Wolverines coach laments the inability to get it going against the Badgers in team's 24-10 loss Saturday. Angelique S. Chengelis
Madison, Wis. — The Michigan players had been hearing the talk that they hadn’t won a game against a team with a winning record and that the program had not won a road game against a ranked opponent since 2006.
That talk will continue.
After an early spark and a stiff defensive showing, Michigan’s offense couldn’t get much going in the second half, gaining only 65 yards, and lost starting quarterback Brandon Peters, who underwent tests for a head injury, in the third quarter at Wisconsin.
The No. 5 Badgers remain unbeaten at 11-0, 8-0 and on the doorstep of a spot in the national championship playoff, defeating Michigan, 24-10, on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin had only 99 yards in the first half but gained 226 in the second half.
“This one hurts, but we’ll keep fighting, keep battling,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said.
Michigan, ranked No. 19, is 8-3, 5-3 Big Ten and will face rival Ohio State in the regular-season finale next Saturday at Michigan Stadium.
The Wolverines, 0-4 at Camp Randall since their last win here in 2001, did not do much with some good field position. Three times they started in Wisconsin territory — on the 40 in the second quarter, the 41 in the third and the 29 in the third — and did little. They went fumble, punt, field goal, respectively, on those drives.
Against Wisconsin’s top-ranked defense, Michigan gained 234 yards, including a season-low 58 rushing — the Wolverines averaged 1.6 yards per carry on 37 attempts. Chris Evans led the team with 25 yards on 11 carries, while the team’s leading rusher, Karan Higdon, had 20 yards on seven carries, but was limited after trainers worked on his right leg on the sideline.
“We weren’t able to get any big chunks in the running game,” Harbaugh said. “They made more plays. We had some opportunities. Couldn’t get it done today.”
Michigan took its only lead, 10-7, with 6:36 left in the third quarter when linebacker Devin Bush intercepted Wisconsin’s Alex Hornibrook to give Michigan the ball at the Badgers’ 29. Michigan reached the 17 but was pushed back three yards and couldn’t make any ground. Quinn Nordin, who had missed three field goals in each of the previous three games, hit a 39-yard field goal.
The Badgers then regained the lead for good and never looked back after scoring on back-to-back possessions. Hornibrook rebounded quickly from the turnover and led them on a 77-yard, seven-play drive and scored when he hit A.J. Taylor on a 24-yard pass on third down. The two kept the drive alive converting on third and 13 when Taylor caught a 51-yard pass.
“Alex does a good job of being in the moment,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. “That was a heck of a play that Bush made on that and certainly knew we were going to have to try to get some things down the field. It’s a really good defense. I thought Alex just stayed in the moment. And those next couple drives, he gave guys a chance to make plays, and I thought they competed and went and got the ball.”
The next Michigan possession is when Peters was hurt. He left the game following a hard hit by linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel after releasing a throw on third down. Peters was on the field for a long time looking listless. The Michigan players gathered together nearby, and Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and the medical staff tended to him. Peters was taken off the field by motorized cart with 2:13 left in the third quarter. After the game, Harbaugh said Peters was having tests done for a head injury but would join the team on the flight back.
Wolverines coach on his starting quarterback, who was knocked out of the game in the second half. Angelique S. Chengelis
John O’Korn, who had started four games before Peters took over early in the fourth game, took over for Michigan.
Wisconsin built on its lead, making it 21-10, when Kendric Pryor scored on a 32-yard run with 24 seconds left in the third quarter. Hornibrook made another key play on third down, hitting Danny Davis for a 27-yard gain.
“I think we didn’t execute on third down,” said Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst, who had five tackles and was credited for half a sack. “We got down there twice and we didn’t follow through how we should have. That led to them getting points and getting on the board.
“I think just lack of execution (hurt late in the game). I felt like we beat ourselves today.”
Wisconsin’s freshman running back Jonathan Taylor, who was averaging 152.5 yards a game, had 132 against Michigan, including a 52-yard run.
Michigan dominated the first half, outgaining the Badgers, 199-99. Wisconsin had six drives and the Wolverines forced three, three-and-outs. The Badgers were 1-of-6 on third down.
“I felt like the game was in our hands coming out in the second half,” Hurst said. “We didn’t execute.”
The Badgers took a 7-0 lead when Nick Nelson returned the punt 50 yards for the score, catching the Wolverines flat-footed.
On the Wolverines' next drive, a pair of running backs left the game with an injury. Ty Isaac, back for the first time after missing two games with an undisclosed injury, left for the locker room just before the start of the second quarter and leading Higdon was also hobbled and went to the trainer’s table for treatment on his right leg.
During the Wolverines' first series in the second quarter — set up by a near-Khaleke Hudson blocked punt that started Michigan on the Badgers’ 40-yard line — Peters drove the team to the Wisconsin 6-yard line. Two plays later it appeared he hit Donovan Peoples-Jones on a 5-yard touchdown pass on the left side of the end zone. It was ruled incomplete and went to review. Replays showed Peoples-Jones got his left foot down in-bounds before his right quickly landed on the line.
The call was upheld and, after Peters gained three yards, he fumbled.
Wolverines coach discusses receiver's catch, which was ruled out of bounds near the end zone. Angelique S. Chengelis
"Really thought it was a touchdown,” Harbaugh said. “From the reviews on the scoreboard, what the guys said in the press box, looked like the left foot got down first. As far as the fumble, that was a mistake. Shouldn’t be reaching the ball for the end zone unless it’s fourth down.”
Wisconsin was driving on the next series and appeared to have a 15-yard completion to receiver Danny Davis, for a first down to the Michigan 36, but the review overturned the call making it fourth and 14.
The Wolverines, starting at their 16-yard line, then drove 84 yards on seven plays for their first score. On second down, Peters and Peoples-Jones connected on a 48-yard completion to the Wisconsin 36-yard line. Freshman fullback Ben Mason scored on a one-yard run, making it 7-7.
Michigan played without top corner, Lavert Hill, who suffered a concussion last week at Maryland. Freshman Cesar Ruiz started again at right guard for Mike Onwenu, who is two weeks removed from an injury but was dressed for the game.