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UM’s Stribling holds his ground against Wisconsin offense

James Hawkins, The Detroit News
Michigan cornerback Channing Stribling nearly intercepts a pass in the first quarter.

Ann Arbor — Michigan senior cornerback Channing Stribling knew he was going to be tested against No. 8-ranked Wisconsin on Saturday.

With All-American Jourdan Lewis patrolling one side of the field, the Badgers wasted little time attacking Stribling on their first drive of the game.

That plan backfired as Stribling nearly intercepted a deep pass down the sideline on third down to force a punt — and provide a hint of things to come.

“They kind of tried to test us early, just figure out who was the weak link, I guess, and we didn’t really have any,” Stribling said. “After that, it didn’t work.”

In fact, nothing seemed to work for Wisconsin’s offense as Michigan held the Badgers to 159 yards of total offense (88 passing, 71 rushing) in a 14-7 win. Stribling played a pivotal role and finished with two tackles, two pass breakups and two interceptions — his first multi-interception game as a Wolverine.

“You got to go the other way (away from Lewis),” Stribling said. “It’s more chances I have to make plays. They had the best receivers and only had two main guys, so they had to throw somebody at me. I just tried to do my best.”

Stribling recorded his first interception with 1:04 left in the first half to give the Wolverines the ball at the Wisconsin 44-yard line and a chance to add to their 7-0 lead.

Then in the fourth quarter, he broke up a pass during a series that led to a three-and-out before picking off an overthrown pass by Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook with 3:24 remaining.

“He’s been a playmaker since he got here,” Lewis said of Stribling. “It’s him feeling comfortable with himself. Now he’s getting into the groove and I’m pretty sure he’s going to be the best corner in the country.”

While Stribling’s performance was perhaps overshadowed by Lewis’ one-handed, game-sealing interception, it didn’t go unnoticed by Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh.

“Big plays were made to stop (Wisconsin’s) drives, their tentative winning drive at the end of the game,” Harbaugh said. “Channing’s interception, Jourdan’s interception. I thought Channing had two other big pass breakups that were outstanding. They were testing him deep.

“I think he got his hands on four or five balls during the game, which is outstanding. He had two interceptions, that’s outstanding for a corner. And he tackled. I thought he had a heck of a ball game. Both of our corners really played well today.”

jhawkins@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @jamesbhawkins