Michigan's speed proved too much for Wisconsin's size.
Clarence Williams rushed for 121 yards and Anthony Thomas added 102 yards and two touchdowns as No. 15 Michigan amassed 257 yards against the nation's top-rated rush defense in a 27-10 Big Ten victory over the previously unbeaten and eighth-ranked Badgers.
"I was shocked that a team could run the ball on us like that," Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez said.
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr couldn't believe it either.
"I would've never guessed that we'd be able to be that successful," he said.
The Wolverines (8-2, 7-0 Big Ten), who had struggled with their running game at times this season, can ensure their first back-to-back trips to the Rose Bowl in six years with a victory Saturday at Ohio State. The Wolverines are 9-0 under Carr against top-10 teams.
"We've put ourselves in a good position," quarterback Tom Brady said. "Now we go to Ohio State and try to win the Big Ten championship."
Carr said he was proud of the way his team came back after opening the season with two losses.
"This group of kids didn't point fingers and didn't make any excuses.." he said. "They continued to work hard defending our championship. After the start we had that was an awfuly difficult thing to do."
| Wisconsin quarterback Mike Samuel and the Badgers had nowhere to run -- or hide -- Saturday against Michigan. (AP) |
The Badgers (9-1, 6-1), whose school record-tying nine game winning streak ended, still have a shot at Pasadena with a victory against Penn State and an Ohio State victory over Michigan.
"This loss is tough because it takes it (the Rose Bowl bid) out our hands," defensive back Tim Rosga said.
Except for an 80-yard touchdown pass that gave Wisconsin a 7-0 lead, there was little the Wolverines did wrong and little the Badgers did right. Michigan outgained Wisconsin 476-190.
Despite an offensive line that averages 313 pounds, the Badgers simply couldn't move the Michigan defense. The Wolverines held the Badgers to a season-low 58 yards rushing, 32 of that coming in the final nine minutes after the game had been decided.
"When you look at the two teams, you see we were outmanned defensively as far as physical size," Carr said. "And I thought what our guys did for being that undersized was tremendous."
Ron Dayne, who had rushed for 100 or more yards in eight consecutive games, was held to 53 yards, one of the lowest outputs of his career.
"He starts out slow in the backfield but then gets going and he's hard to bring down," linebacker James Hall said. "We just had to stop him before he got going and we did a good job doing that."
At least three times Dayne appeared to run the wrong play as Mike Samuel turned on the option to make a pitch only to see that Dayne had run the other way. Dayne said he had an ear infection and couldn't hear the audibles.
Michigan running backs ran through big holes all day behind lead blocker Aaron Shea. On Thomas' 15-yard TD run late in the second quarter, Shea knocked down three Badgers and Thomas ran untouched to the end zone.
"We're not used to being out there on the field that much and we're not used to having people run on us like that," linebacker Donnel Thompson said.
Wisconsin had held Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota to less than 30 yards rushing in their previous three games and was giving up an average of 62.7 yards for the season. Thomas nearly surpassed that on his first carry, breaking off left tackle and racing 59 yards to the end zone to open a 14-7 lead with 12:04 left in the second quarter.
"I didn't feel we played as well as we could and Michigan had a lot to do with that," Alvarez said. "They beat us in all phases of the game and they're an outstanding football team."
Michigan's other touchdown came in the first quarter when Brady found Jerame Tuman alone in the back of the end zone for a 6-yard score. That was set up by a 30-yard pass to Shea over the middle.
Brady was 15-of-24 passing for 202 yards with one interception.
The Badgers opened the scoring on he first play of their third possession when Samuel connected with Chris Chambers on an 80-yard TD pass. Chambers slipped behind cornerback William Peterson, caught the ball at the Michigan 40 and outran him to the end zone.
It was the third-longest TD pass in Wisconsin history and the longest ever against a Big Ten opponent. Samuel was 7-of-17 for 126 yards with one interception.
Wisconsin's other score came on a 39-yard field goal by Matt Davenport after the Badgers took over on Michigan's 10 following Tim Rosga's third blocked punt of the season.
Michigan answered on its next two possessions with field goals of 29 and 49 yards by Jay Feely.
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