The University of Michigan football team missed its wakeup call on Saturday afternoon and it proved to be a disaster for the Wolverines.
After trailing 24-0 at halftime, Michigan fell to No. 6 Wisconsin, 48-28, at the Big House in the final home game of the season for the Wolverines.
Michigan falls to 7-4 overall, 3-4 in Big Ten play with just one regular season game left, next Saturday at Ohio State. Wisconsin is 10-1, 6-1 and tied for the top sport In the Big Ten with Ohio State and Michigan State.
“We just came out flat,” said Michigan wide receiver Roy Roundtree. “When you’re playing one of the best teams in the country, you can’t afford to do that.”
Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez agreed.
“They’re one of the top ball-control teams In the country and each possession is important against them,” said Rodriguez. “We had chances but we overthrew a few passes and weren’t sharp early.”
Michigan broke out of its funk in the third quarter and scored two quick touchdowns to pull within 10 points, 24-14, but the Badgers closed the door with a devastating running game. Monte Ball ran for 173 yards and four touchdowns and teammate James White ran for 101 and two scores. Wisconsin was without All-American running back John Clay, who was injured.
Wisconsin had 357 yards rushing and 558 total yards of offense. Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien completed his first 13 passes and ended up 14 for 15, mostly completing short passes over the middle.
Still, Wisconsin threw the ball only once in the second half and had 31 straight running plays at one point.
“That’s what we do best,” said Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema.
“We didn’t tackle well, we didn’t execute well,” said Rodriguez.
Michigan starts five true freshmen and Rodriguez said the Wolverines are probably the only NCAA Division I team that can make that statement.
“We’ve had a lot of injuries this year and it’s not an excuse, it’s just a fact,” he said.
Michigan lost at least two more players on Saturday, linebacker Craig Roh and running back Vincent Smith suffered concussions. On senior day in Ann Arbor, only three seniors started for Michigan, Jonas Mouton and James Rogers on defense and guard Steve Schilling on offense.
It was another big day for Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, who became the NCAA’s all-time leading rushing quarterback for one season. Robinson has amassed 1,538 yards rushing this season, breaking the previous record on 1,494 by Beau Morgan of Air Force in 1996.
Robinson had 350 yards of offense on Saturday against the Badgers and scored two touchdowns and passed for two more. He passed for 239 yards.
“I didn’t even know I set the record,” Robinson said at a news conference after the game.
“We didn’t make a big deal of it,” said Rodriguez. “We were just interested in winning the game.”
The game was played in front of a crowd of 112,276 and Michigan drew a total of 783,276 over the season to set a new NCAA-record of 111,897 average per-game, breaking the old mark of 111,025 Michigan set in 2004.
Next Saturday’s Michigan at Ohio State game will begin at noon and will be broadcast on ABC.
For more info: mgoblue, Detroit News, espn