First-half observations: Michigan's lead disappears, ahead 13-10 in Wisconsin

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Madison, Wisc. – Michigan, playing in its first road game of the season and looking to make a statement while remaining unbeaten, has watched its advantage quickly disappear and now has a 13-10 lead at halftime against Wisconsin.

The 14th-ranked Wolverines have not won at Camp Randall Stadium the last five meetings. Michigan has to go back to 2001 for a win over the Badgers, a 20-11 decision.

This is Michigan’s (4-0) first of back-to-back road games.

Michigan's Roman Wilson tries to get past Wisconsin's Alexander Smith during the first half on Saturday in Madison, Wis.

Badgers find groove

Michigan’s defense, which picked up the team when it needed in the final minutes of the game against Rutgers to preserve that win, has smothered the Badgers for most of the first half, forcing four-straight three-and-outs to open the game.

Until that point, the Badgers had minus-two yards and no first downs. The Wolverines have sacks from Chris Hinton and David Ojabo.

Mertz, leading Wisconsin’s fifth possession, started to find a groove and recorded the Badgers’ first down until Graham Mertz connected with tight end Jake Ferguson for a 19-yard gain with just more than nine minutes left in the first half.

It was Wisconsin’s most efficient offense of the half but was held to a 34-yard field goal. The Badgers drove 78 yards on 15 plays and used 7:04.  The Badgers, who had five first downs on that final drive of the half, were at 76 yards of offense at that point

The Badgers then made good use of 15 seconds to score on an 18-yard pass from Mertz to pull within three points and ignited the crowd. Mertz kicked things off with a 36-yard pass play. Wisconsin has 139 yards at the end of the half.

Michigan's David Ojabo, left, sacks Wisconsin's Graham Mertz during the first half on Saturday in Madison, Wis.

Ross back in lineup

Michigan linebacker Josh Ross, left the Rutgers game late in the first half last week with a stinger and was listed as probably for this game.

Ross, a two-time captain, is the team’s leading tackler and is wearing a neck roll, but he’s been playing. He has one tackle so far, but he made his presence felt on that hit for two-yard loss.

Wisconsin's Danny Vanden Boom stops Michigan's Hassan Haskins during the first half on Saturday in Madison, Wis.

Big special teams

Joey Velazquez gave Michigan a boost early in the second quarter when he recovered a punt that hit Wisconsin's Hunter Wohler.

The play gave Michigan the ball at the Wisconsin 5-yard line, but the Wolverines stalled and settled for a 26-yard field goal by Jake Moody. Moody added a 47-yard field goal with 27 seconds left in the half. Moody is 7-of-8 on field goals this season.

Breaking out a new look

Under coach Jim Harbaugh, who is in his seventh season coaching the Wolverines, Michigan has worn all-white uniforms for road games.

Against Wisconsin, Michigan broke out a new uniform combination of blue pants with a white jersey. This is the second time this season Michigan has drifted from its more traditional look. Against Washington in a night game, the Wolverines wore an all-blue uniform.

achengelis@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @achengelis