Badgers survive fourth-quarter rally to defeat Wolverines
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Once again, the Michigan Wolverines are reeling from an unexpected defeat.
And Wisconsin has the fleet feet of Tyler Donovan to thank for it.
|No Need To Worry|
Michigan and its fans should not drown in its sorrows with Saturday's loss. Since 1980, the Wolverines have lost three times in the game immediately prior to playing Ohio State. Each of those previous three times, the Wolverines have bounced back and defeated the Buckeyes.
Result vs. OSU
Wisconsin's fifth-year senior quarterback frustrated Michigan's defense with his scrambling ability on Saturday, throwing for one touchdown and running for another in the Badgers' 37-21 upset of the Wolverines (No. 12 BSC, No. 13 AP).
Donovan finished the game on the sideline with a nasty welt and twin streaks of blue paint on his throwing hand.
"I got Michigan helmet paint right there," Donovan said. "You should take a picture of that."
Michigan left another streak in Madison, too.
The Badgers (8-3, 4-3 Big Ten) snapped the Wolverines' eight-game winning streak and robbed them of momentum going into their annual matchup with Ohio State.
The loss doesn't eliminate Michigan (8-3, 6-1) from the Big Ten title race or a Rose Bowl appearance, but the Wolverines have to beat the Buckeyes next week -- something they haven't done since 2003.
"The disappointment in this game is that you play to win," Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. "Any time you don't win, you're disappointed. We still have some things to play for."
Wisconsin finally played up to its potential, but the performance came too late for the Badgers to meet any of the high expectations they carried into the season.
"This is what we're capable of," Badgers cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu said. "We really beat them pretty good today. That's the way we should have been playing all year."
Michigan played without injured running back Mike Hart on Saturday, and freshman Ryan Mallett relieved ailing quarterback Chad Henne in the first quarter.
Carr said it was his decision to hold Hart out, even though his lingering ankle injury felt better on Saturday morning than it did in the middle of the week.
"Mike would've played, but I just didn't feel like putting him out there," Carr said.
Mallett took over for Henne on the Wolverines' third possession, after Henne threw an interception that allowed Donovan to drive the Badgers and throw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Travis Beckum.
It was not immediately clear whether Carr removed Henne for his performance or because of a nagging shoulder injury. Carr initially declined comment on Henne before saying he "just didn't feel right."
Still, the Wolverines had a chance to pull off a late rally.
Trailing 23-7 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Mallett threw a pair of touchdowns -- a 97-yarder to Mario Manningham and 26-yarder to Adrian Arrington -- to cut Wisconsin's lead to two with 7:31 left in the game.
Donovan left the game with an apparent wrist injury on the next series. But Wisconsin's defense stopped Michigan's offense cold, setting up a pair of late Wisconsin touchdowns by freshman Zach Brown.
Donovan was 14-of-27 for 245 yards and a touchdown and ran for 49 yards and another score. He consistently scrambled out of trouble against an aggressive Michigan pass rush as Wisconsin built a 20-7 halftime lead despite playing without running back P.J. Hill, who sat out a loss at Ohio State a week ago because of a leg injury.
"Tyler is an unbelievable competitor," Badgers coach Bret Bielema said.
Carr was disappointed with his team's inability to run without Hart or stop the Badgers from running -- even though Hill played only a handful of snaps in the second half.
Still, Carr was pleased that his team didn't give up.
"I will say this, our team fought until the very end and made a couple of great plays there to get us back to within two with seven minutes to go and we came up short," Carr said.
Mallett threw an interception to Ikegwuonu to set up a 6-yard touchdown run by Brown that put Wisconsin ahead 30-21 with 3:11 remaining.
Brown scored again less than a minute later, after Mallett threw incomplete on fourth-and-19 from his own end zone to give the ball back to the Badgers near the goal line.
Coming into Saturday's game, Michigan was well on its way to wiping away memories of its stint as a national laughingstock after losing its first two games -- one of them to Appalachian State of the Football Championship Subdivision. Now, the Wolverines once again must recover from to tough loss going into their biggest game of the year.
"We've been in this position before," offensive tackle Jake Long said. "We're still able to win the Big Ten. We have to have a good week of practice, correct our mistakes, and get ready to play."
2022 Big Ten Conference Standings