Bob Wojnowski and Angelique S. Chengelis of The Detroit News break down Michigan's win over Wisconsin.
Ann Arbor — There is a certain comfort playing at home week after week, and in Michigan’s case for five straight weeks.
Michigan is 5-0 (2-0 Big Ten) and has reached October without ever leaving Michigan Stadium.
The Wolverines will finally have to venture away from home and will play at Rutgers at 7 p.m. Saturday. It will be their first visit since losing there two years ago. It was Rutgers’ first Big Ten victory and fans stormed the field.
“It’s October and we haven’t been on the road yet but we’re excited to get out of Ann Arbor and take an opponent on in their house,” Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight said. “Two years ago we went to Rutgers, it was a hectic crowd and they stormed the field. We just need to keep our composure and play football. There’s no ifs ands or buts about it. Just play the game.”
Michigan is coming off its biggest test of the season and got its first win over a top-10 team since 2008 by defeating Wisconsin, 14-7, last Saturday.
The Wolverines’ defense was outstanding holding the Badgers to 159 yards, including 71 rushing. It was an old-school grind-it-out win, and that meant something significant to them, considering they had outscored their first four opponents, 208-55.
“We talked about it all week — it’s probably going to be a close game, it’s probably going to be physical, it’s probably going to come down to the end,” running back Ty Isaac said. “We didn’t put as many points on the board as we wanted to, but this was a game we expected to go a 14-7 game, something like that.
“Any time you can beat a top-10 team and let the world know we’ve got something going on here, we’ve got a great defense and it’s special.”
What exactly is going on with the Wolverines?
“It’s not like fluke stuff,” Isaac said. “We’re playing physical. We have a really good defense, the offense is playing well. We respect everybody’s game in this conference, but we have that confidence in knowing each man next to you is going to play as hard as they can for as long as they can.”
The Wolverines have drawn a different level of confidence from beating Wisconsin in a slug-out game.
“It says a lot about our team,” receiver Amara Darboh said. “Wisconsin is a very tough football team, a very good defense, a very good offense. Us beating this team says a lot about our character and says a lot about our players.”
“This win doesn’t define our season,” he said.
Michigan has plenty to fix. First and foremost, the kicking game, considering the Wolverines were 0-for-3 on field goal attempts. And the offense has to be more efficient. Michigan gained 349 yards but was 3-of-15 on third down.
But then there’s the defense that is living up to all the preseason hype and got a boost the last two weeks with the returns of Byron Mone and Taco Charlton and Jourdan Lewis. The Wolverines did lose defensive back Jeremy Clark to a season-ending knee injury last week.
Channing Stribling had two interceptions against the Badgers, and Lewis had one on fourth down to squelch the Badgers’ last chance.
Lewis said it was good for Michigan to face a test to the end of the game.
“To see how hard we fight to the very end and prevail and play relentlessly,” he said.
The players, Lewis said, are unfazed by the prospects of finally hitting the road for a game.
“See, every game is the same,” he said. “We have to prepare our hardest for every single game, it doesn’t matter where it is. Regardless of where we are, we’re going to prepare our hardest.”