Bad things can happen on the road. Just ask the Wolverines.
They have yet to beat a ranked opponent away from Michigan Stadium since 2006. They haven’t beaten Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium since 2001, either.
At first, Saturday’s first half against the fifth-ranked Badgers didn’t bode well for Michigan’s chances at snapping either streak. But the Wolverines put together an impressive response late in the second quarter, tying the game at seven.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Brandon Peters connected with freshman receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones on a beautifully-placed deep ball for a 48-yard gain. Peters stood in the pocket and hit sophomore running back Chris Evans to convert a crucial third down. Then he hit sophomore tight end Sean McKeon, giving Michigan four chances to punch it in from the one-yard line.
It would only take one try, thanks to the efforts of the Wolverines’ jumbo package and freshman fullback Ben Mason, who scored his first career touchdown.
It was an impressive response by Michigan, especially considering what had transpired before.
The Wolverines left several big plays on the field throughout the early part of the first half. On their first drive, Peters had sophomore receiver Kekoa Crawford open deep. Peters missed. On their fourth drive, Peters had redshirt sophomore tight end Zach Gentry open deep. This time, he left the ball short and it was broken up by a Wisconsin defender.
And though the defense played admirably, preventing Wisconsin from any success, special teams was another story.
Freshman punter Brad Robbins struggled with his hang time and distance. It didn’t cost him on his first two punts — but it would on his third.
A wobbly punt barely reached midfield before Wisconsin’s Nick Nelson picked the ball up, sidestepping traffic and taking the punt back for a touchdown to give his team an early lead. When Michigan did connect on big plays, it wasn’t able to take full advantage. A 35-yard pass to Gentry gave the Wolverines the ball on Wisconsin’s six-yard line.
A run on first down was stuffed. A fade to freshman receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones was ruled incomplete. Then, on 3rd-and-goal, Peters took off — and promptly fumbled the ball, costing his team precious points.
But Michigan’s defense held Wisconsin to a punt on its ensuing drive, stopping the Badgers near midfield. Then Peters and the offense took over and breathed life into Michigan.