Although building a 19-point first-half lead and listen to the Wolverines be serenaded with a chorus of boos, history reared its ugly head in the second half and took Wisconsin's national title hopes with it.
After allowing just 21 first-half yards, the Badger defense crumbled under the Big-House pressure, giving up 278 second-half yards and three scoring drives over 75 yards that gave Michigan its biggest comeback win ever at home, shocking No.8 Wisconsin 27-25.
"This was embarrassing," senior linebacker DeAndre Levy said. "I am more embarrassed than anything. I am baffled to what happened."
The defense of Wisconsin (3-1) was dictating the tempo in the first half, holding Michigan to minus-seven rushing yards and a single first down. Even after Michigan (2-2) finally found the end zone late in the third quarter, the confidence was still overflowing on the Badger sideline, despite all the miscues UW was making.
"With the halftime score, one of the things we addressed in there was there were a lot of missed opportunities out there on the field in the first half from an offensive standpoint," head coach Bret Bielema said. "We just couldn't let that linger."
And in 28 seconds, the Badgers saw their lead go from 12 to nothing.
It started on a poorly-timed blitz that allowed Michigan running back Brandon Minor to find the end zone from 34 yards out to close the gap to 19-14. On the Wisconsin's next offensive play, Evridge's pass attempt bounce off receiver Kyle Jefferson's hip, into the arms of Michigan back John Thompson and he followed a convoy 25 yards into the end zone that stunned Wisconsin and gave Michigan a 20-19 lead.
"It's real hard to put the feeling into words," senior linebacker Jonathan Casillas said. "We had (the momentum) the whole first half and gave our offense great field position. They took (the momentum) right back in the second half and we missed on our chances."
After Michigan tacked on another touchdown to extend the lead to 27-19, Wisconsin had its chances to get back in the game. After Wisconsin's first attempt to tie resulted in an Allan Evridge fumble deep in Michigan territory, the senior quarterback led the Badgers back with 13 seconds left when Evridge connected with Gilreath for a 22-yard touchdown and then with Travis Beckum on the ensuing two-point conversion. Unfortunately, an illegal procedure penalty wiped out the two points and Wisconsin's second chance was unsuccessful, putting the final nail in the coffin.
"It was a phenomenal catch by David but there were so many little things that went wrong," Evridge said. "Little things add up to big things as you can see."
The Badgers also were coping with problems in their wide receiver unit. With Garrett Graham sidelined because of a lower right leg injury and Travis Beckum being limited, Evridge had to rely on his young wide outs, a situation that caused headaches for Wisconsin. Freshman Nick Toon had a touchdown pass go off his hands in the left corner of the end zone and David Gilreath, much like Jefferson, bobbled an easy catch in Michigan territory that the Wolverines ended up intercepting.
Unofficially, Wisconsin had five drops against Michigan.
The amount of turnovers was the story of the first half. Evridge hesitated to unload a third-down pass and was drilled from his blind side, causing the ball to squirt loose and allow Michigan to recover near midfield. After UW's next drive stalled and the Badgers were forced to punt from their own end zone, William Hartman laid a big hit on returner Greg Matthews, jarring the ball loose and into the hands of Mickey Turner, giving UW a first down at its own 40.
Michigan's turnover issues continued, as QB Steven Threet threw interceptions to Shane Carter and Jonathan Casillas. In all, Michigan had five first-half turnovers that led to 16 UW points but had no turnovers in the second half, which was another reason the Badgers lost for the 17th time in 18 trips to Ann Arbor.
"We can't be angry at anybody but ourselves," Levy said. "We gave the game away with bad penalties, missed alignments, things that we practiced all week we had miscues on."