Oct. 8, 2011
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Site: Evanston, Ill. (Ryan Field)
Score: #12 Michigan 42, Northwestern 24
Records: U-M (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten), Northwestern (2-3, 0-2 Big Ten)
Next U-M Game: Saturday, Oct. 15 -- at Michigan State (East Lansing, Mich.), Noon (TV: ESPN)
EVANSTON, Ill. -- The University of Michigan football team (No. 12 AP/No. 11 USA Today Coaches) outscored Northwestern 28-0 in the second half on the way to a 42-24 victory on Saturday (Oct. 8) at Ryan Field. U-M prevailed in its first road test to remain unbeaten on the season and in the Big Ten Legends Division.
Despite putting up the first points of the game, the Wolverines, who ranked first in the Big Ten in turnover margin (+7) heading into the contest, committed three turnovers in the opening half. Junior quarterback Denard Robinson (Deerfield Beach, Fla./Deerfield Beach) threw three interceptions in the first half -- which the Wildcats turned into 10 points -- while the Northwestern offense surrendered zero giveaways.
Looking to extend its three-game winning streak at Ryan Field, Michigan forced a three-and-out on the game's first series and then took the ball down the field to score on a nine-yard pass from Robinson to fifth-year senior tight end Steve Watson (Cherry Hills Village, Colo./Mullen) -- the first reception of his career. Northwestern then answered with two touchdowns to take a 14-7 lead heading into the second quarter.
With 8:24 left in the half and still down seven points, Michigan senior/junior safety Jordan Kovacs (Curtice, Ohio/Clay) made a tackle in the backfield to stop the Wildcats on fourth down in Wolverine territory. The Maize and Blue proceeded to convert a short fourth down of its own on its way to scoring on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Robinson to sophomore wideout Jeremy Gallon (Apopka, Fla./Apopka). Northwestern added 10 points in the final 2:21 of the half to hold a 24-14 lead after 30 minutes.
Robinson completed 10-of-18 passes in the first half for 188 yards and two scores. Senior receiver Junior Hemingway (Conway, S.C./Conway) caught four balls for 106 yards, including a 48-yard reception on the opening drive.
After allowing only three points in the three previous first halves combined, the Michigan defense allowed 24 through the first two quarters. Kovacs and junior linebacker Brandin Hawthorne (Pahokee, Fla./Pahokee) led the team with five tackles apiece.
Fueled by a 57-yard grab by junior wide receiver Roy Roundtree (Trotwood, Ohio/Trotwood-Madison) on the first drive of the second half, U-M took the ball 80 yards, capping off the drive with a two-yard Robinson run. The touchdown marked the fifth consecutive game in which Robinson has accounted for at least three scores. One possession later, sophomore quarterback Devin Gardner (Detroit, Mich./Inkster) scored on a one-yard bootleg run to give the Wolverines a 28-24 lead with 2:58 left in the third quarter.
More Michigan scoring came in the final quarter. Sparked by an interception by Hawthorne, senior Michael Shaw (Trotwood, Ohio/Trotwood-Madison) scored on a two-yard run -- the 13th of his career -- to extend the Wolverine lead to 11. On the ensuing Northwestern possession, junior linebacker Kenny Demens (Oak Park, Mich./Detroit Country Day) forced a fumble for the second Wildcats turnover of the game, marking the sixth straight contest with two or more forced turnovers for U-M.
A blocked field goal by NU with 9:13 left gave the Wildcats the ball back, but the Michigan defense ended the drive with a Kovacs fourth-down sack shortly after. Robinson then added a score on the ground late in the game.
The Michigan offense racked up 529 yards en route to scoring the game's final 28 points. Robinson finished the game completing 17-of-26 passes for 337 yards and two touchdowns. He also added 117 yards and two scores on the ground. His performance placed third on the Michigan all-time list for total yards in a game. Hemingway hauled in five passes for 124 yards, while Gallon grabbed five passes for 61 yards and one score.
The Michigan defense held Northwestern scoreless in the final two quarters, allowing only 130 total yards.
Next Saturday (Oct. 15), the Wolverines hit the road for the second consecutive week as they head into East Lansing for a rivalry matchup with Michigan State. Kickoff is set for noon on ESPN and ESPN3.com.
Contact: Justin Dickens (734) 763-4423