Badgers rally, fall short against fourth-ranked Wolverines
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Jourdan Lewis leaped, fully extended his right arm, squeezed the point of the football into his palm and pinned it against his hip.
No. 4 Michigan needed the spectacular play to seal its latest victory, the first one that wasn’t a rout this season.
Wilton Speight threw a tiebreaking, 46-yard touchdown pass to Amara Darboh midway through the fourth quarter and Lewis made his spectacular play near midfield with 2:15 left, helping the Wolverines hold on to beat No. 8 Wisconsin 14-7 on Saturday. The interception was reminiscent of a one-handed reception famously made by a New York Giants receiver.
"I’ve seen Odell Beckham do that," Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh said. "The most impressive thing about it was he jumped a little early."
The Wolverines (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) beat a top-10 opponent for the first time since a Rich Rodriguez-coached team rallied to beat the ninth-ranked Badgers in 2008. And it was a defensive struggle throughout.
Wisconsin (4-1, 1-1) had the ball at its 8 with 2:59 and no timeouts left with a chance to beat a third team ranked in the top 10. The Badgers went for it on fourth-and-10 from its 8, and Alex Hornibrook’s deep pass was picked off by Lewis. Lewis leaped to snatch the ball out of the air reminded some of a one-handed interception Charles Woodson made in 1997 at Michigan State.
"It’s a great feeling to be compared to someone so great," Lewis said. "It’s humbling."
Hornibrook , in his second start, threw three interceptions. The freshman quarterback did throw a game-tying, 17-yard TD pass to Dare Ogunbowale midway through the third quarter. Hornibrook finished 9 of 25 for 88 yards and the Badgers were held to just 71 yards rushing.
"We couldn’t really get any drives going," he said.
Wisconsin was 1 of 6 on third down in the fourth quarter and earned a first down on just 3 of 15 third downs.
"We didn’t convert," Badgers coach Paul Chryst said. "We didn’t get anything consistently going in the run game."
Michigan had chances to have a bigger cushion, but Kenny Allen missed two field goals and his replacement, Ryan Tice missed a field goal.
"To win championships, you’ve got to make field goals," said Harbaugh, adding the two will compete during practice for the job.
Wisconsin: The Badgers have impressive wins against then-No. 8 Michigan State and then-No. 5 LSU, but could not overcome the turnovers made by Hornibrook.
Michigan: The Wolverines suddenly have some serious woes on special teams. Allen is just 4 of 8 on field goals this season, and got benched. Highly touted freshman Quinn Nordin, who had Harbaugh sleep over at his house during a recruiting visit, is not an option because he’s injured. The Wolverines were also plagued by penalties on punts.
The Wolverines will likely stay right where they are in The Associated Press poll. The Badgers will probably move down a few spots because the next highest-ranked team to lose was No. 12 Florida State.
In a unique formation, Harbaugh called for nine players to be directly behind center Mason Cole, and had Speight speaking to the Wolverines in the long line. Then, the Wolverines got into a traditional, tight formation to pave the way for De’Veon Smith to run up the middle for 5 yards against the Badgers to set up Hill’s TD run. Harbaugh said his son, Jay, an assistant coach, installed the unique formation during a recent practice. "Maybe it has a future," Harbaugh said with a grin.
Wisconsin: The Badgers’ run of games against top-10 teams extends to three with a home game against No. 2 Ohio State. "The season’s only going to keep getting harder," said Corey Clement, who ran for 68 yards on 17 carries.
Michigan: Finally, the Wolverines hit the road. They play at Rutgers, which is coming off a 58-0 loss at Ohio State to fall to 2-3 overall and 0-2 in the Big Ten.