4B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - October 31, 2005
Michigan 33, Northwestern 17
top offense. for
last 30 minutes
By Matt Venegoni
Daily Sports Editor
EVANSTON - Two drives of less than a minute, over 300 yards and
a shootout in the making.
After the first half of Saturday night's game, it appeared that the
Michigan defense didn't have much of a chance stopping Northwestern.
The defense forced the Wildcats' spread attack to punt three times in
the first half. Every other Michigan stop came from Northwestern mis-
takes - including a fumble return for a touchdown by Leon Hall and
But then something happened after halftime. After giving up 321
yards and looking like a sieve, the defense tightened and Northwestern's
vaunted offense finally appeared mortal.
"I felt we were the same team we were in the first half," defensive
end Alan Branch said. "We kind of felt them out, saw what they had and
stopped them from there on out."
The first possession of the third quarter showed how much of the next
30 minutes would go. Brett Basanez and company got a few yards, but
ended up hurting their drives with penalties.
On second-and-10 from their own 36-yard line, the Wildcats
handed off to freshman standout Tyrell Sutton. The running back
carried the ball for just three yards, but a holding penalty on right
guard Joel Belding negated the play and, more importantly, sent
Northwestern back 10 yards. In a big hole, the Wildcats couldn't
come through with a first down.
"I think our defense was outstanding today," Michigan coach Lloyd
Carr said. "I think they were the difference, if you look at (our) time of
possession, 38 minutes, I credit that to our defense."
Although the Wolverines got help from Northwestern and its five sec-
ond-half penalties, Michigan's seemingly different defense was the real
reason the Wildcats were shutout in the second half.
Going into the game, no one was sure whether Northwestern's offense
could be stopped - not even Carr.
"It's going to be a great challenge for our defense, but what we have
got to try to do is find a way to score some points because I don't think
anybody is going to shut this offense down," Carr said at last Monday's
press conference previewing the Northwestern game.
But some thought that Carr was just being coy with his comments
about the Wildcats.
Said defensive end Rondell Biggs: "Coach Carr likes doing that. He
has confidence in us, and I think that was his way of pumping us up and
telling us we had to come with our A game to stop this team."
Time of Poss
Massey, M. 1
I C H I G A N
Linebacker Shawn Crable (2) pulls down Northwestern quarterback Brett Basanez during Michigan's 33-17 victory on Saturday night.
But the one thing the Wolverines knew that they had to stop was the
Wildcats' running game. Even though most of the attention centered on
Northwestern's passing game, it is the running game that has really made
the Wildcats dangerous this season. But against Michigan, the ground
attack was virtually nonexistent.
"This offense slows your d-line down with shovels and options," defen-
sive line coach Steve Stripling said. "At least when we stopped their run, we
could turn (the line loose). I think that our kids were physically able to hold
up to the running game, and that really helped. I thought the kids had a lot
of energy before the game and took this game as a personal challenge."
The combination of the Wolverines stopping the run and the Wildcats
hurting themselves turned the expected shootout into a game dominated
by the Michigan defense.
"We performed on first down," outside linebacker Shawn Crable said.
"It was second-and-long and third-and-medium, so they had to pass. That's
something we did in the second half that we didn't in the first half."
After forcing just three punts in the first half and relying on turnovers
to slow Northwestern, the Wolverines forced punts on the Wildcats first
five possessions. After that, Michigan stopped two separate fourth down
attempts, sealing the game.
"Against an outstanding offensive football team, which Northwestern
is - a very talented team and a team that knows what they're doing,"
Carr said, "I think our defense came up with their best performance of
B. Thompson 2
Yds Avg Lg
110 36.7 38
110 36.7 38
Yds Avg Lg
53 10.6 21
53 10.6 21
Turnovers play key role in Varsity's road victory
By Ian Herbert
Daily Sports Editor
EVANSTON - Michigan coach Lloyd Carr
often sounds like a broken record when discuss-
ing the keys to the game. Inevitably, Carr men-
tions turnovers - whether it's after a win or a
loss - as one of the reasons for the outcome.
Even after Michigan's season-opening win over
Northern Illinois, a team that
no one thought had a chance
against Michigan - Carr
said, "Obviously, turnovers
were the key."
Maybe it's time to start lis-
tening to him. Because com-
ing into Saturday's game at
Northwestern, the Wolverines
game, against Minnesota, in
won the turnover battle.
had lost just one
which they had
In five wins, the Wolverines had forced 12 turn-
overs while coughing up the ball just five times.
In three losses it had been the opposite: three
turnovers forced by the defense, four made by
"If you win the turnover battle, then your
chances of winning are sky high," cornerback
Leon Hall said after Saturday's win.
Against Northwestern, the Wolverines actu-
ally lost the turnover battle 4-3. But Michi-
gan's turnovers seemed to come at opportune
Hall actually had one of the most timely turn-
overs of the game - just six minutes in. Michi-
gan had scored on a nine-play drive to open the
game, and it looked as if Northwestern would
follow suit. The Wildcats, who started their
first drive of the game on the 35-yard line, had
made it down to the Michigan 13 in just four
plays. On second-and-three, freshman running
back Tyrell Sutton took the handoff and went to
his left, where he was met with a lot of traffic.
Hall saw Sutton and made a hit that knocked
the ball loose.
And he didn't stop there. The junior cor-
nerback picked up the fumble and took it 83
yards to the house. So instead of allowing
threw three interceptions of his own - the most
he's had in a game since coming to Michigan.
But one of interceptions was on a Hail Mary
pass to end the first half, and the other one was
negated when Basanez threw an interception just
three plays later. At the end of the game, it was
clear that turnovers helped Michigan a lot more
than they hurt.
For the game, Michigan got 10 points off
turnovers while Northwestern left the field
IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEED: With three min-
utes left in the first half, the Michigan offense
missed an easy opportunity from Northwestern's
10-yard line. Junior Will Paul, who at the begin-
ning of the season converted from defensive line
to fullback, ran out into the flat for a pass. There
were no defenders around Paul, but he dropped
the potential touchdown pass.
On second down, instead of getting discour-
aged, Michigan ran the same play again, this
time with tight end Mike Massey lining up in
Paul's spot in the backfield. Massey wasn't the
first read, but Northwestern left the play wide
open yet again.
"It was open, and they hadn't been able
cover it, so I think we went back to it,"
Massey said. "It couldn't have been easier. I
caught the ball, turned around and the end
zone was right there."
The touchdown was Massey's first at Michigan.
NOTES: Michigan equipment manager Jon
Falk, who broke his leg last week against Iowa
and had surgery on Monday, missed his first
Michigan football game since 1974. Falk had
worked 384 consecutive games at Michigan -
and 445 consecutive games in his career. Carr
said that Falk's surgery went well, but added
that he has a lot of rehab to do. The Michigan
captains gave Falk the game ball. ... Michigan's
win wraps up the team's conference road sched-
ule. The Wolverines finished the year 3-1 on
the road in the Big Ten after losing their road
opener to Wisconsin on Sept. 24. ... Place kicker
Garrett Rivas made four field goals - tying a
career-high. Rivas hit field goals of 19, 26, 28
and 38 yards.
BIG TEN STANDINGS
Blg Ten Overall
THIS WEEKEND'S RESULTS
Michigan 33, NORTHWESTERN 17
MICHIGAN STATE 46, Indiana 15
Ohio State 45, MINNESOTA 31
Wisconsin 41, ILLINOIS 24
PENN STATE 33, Purdue 15
Cornerbacks Morgan Trent (14) and Leon Hall run down the sideline during Hall's 83-yard fumble return.
Northwestern - or the Evanston fans - to this season, threw two interceptions against
creep back into the game, Michigan took con- Michigan. Fifth-year senior Grant Mason made
trol, going up 14-0 early in the first quarter. a diving catch for one pick and freshman free
The touchdown was Hall's first career defen- safety Brandon Harrison stepped in front of the
sive touchdown but not the first of his career. other - although Harrison fumbled the ball
He returned a punt for touchdown last year while trying to return it.
against Indiana. "I just made two bad reads, two bad throws,
Northwestern quarterback Brett Basanez, who and obviously it cost me," Basanez said.
had thrown just one interception in 265 attempts But Michigan wasn't flawless either. Henne
Northern Illinois W, 33-17
Notre Dame L, 10-17
Eastern Michigan W, 55-0
at Wisconsin L, 20-23
at Michigan State W, 34-31
Minnesota L, 20-23
Penn State W, 27-25
at Iowa W, 23-20
at Northwestern W, 33-17
Ohio State TBA
BRUINS BLAST CARDINAL WITH A
SHOTGUN: UCLA quarterback Drew
Olson led the No. 8 Bruins to a stunning
30-27 comeback win over host Stanford
in overtime on Saturday. With just over
seven minutes remaining in regulation,
the Cardinal led, 24-3. But Olson steered
his team to three quick scoring drives
to tie the game late. Short spring runs
by Maurice Drew sandwiched Olson's
31-yard touchdown pass to Joe Cowan,
and the score was knotted at 24 with
46 seconds to play. In the extra session,
Michael Sgroi connected on a 42-yard
field goal before Brandon Breazell scored
the winning touchdown on a 23-yard
HOW THE AP TOP 25 FARED
Associated Press Poll for the week of Oct. 23
Games updated through Oct. 22
(first-place votes in parentheses)
1. Southern Cal
3. Virginia Tech
6. Miami '
7. Louisiana State
9. Notre Dame
10. Florida State
11. Penn State
12. Ohio State
beat Washington State 55-13
beat Oklahoma State 47-28
beat Boston College 30-10
lost to Florida 14-10
beat Utah State 35-3
beat North Carolina 34-16
beat North Texas 56-3
beat Stanford 30-27 (OT)
beat Maryland 35-27
beat Purdue 33-15
beat Minnesota 45-31
at Mississippi St.
at Virginia Tech
1. Southern Cal (57)
2. Texas (8)
3. Virginia Tech
6. Louisiana State
8. Notre Dame
9. Florida State
10. Penn State
12. Ohio State