The Michigan football team lost 21-14 to Northwestern on Saturday, the Wolverines’ eighth loss of the season. This year’s team now holds the program record for losses in a season.
For the first time since 2002, Michigan will enter Saturday’s game at Ohio State without a chance to win at least a share of the Big Ten title.
With the Wildcats’ first touchdown, Michigan clinched its worst scoring defense in program history. Even if the Wolverines shut out the Buckeyes, Michigan will have given up 25.4 points per game. The previous mark was 23.8, set in 1962.
Although Michigan scored just one offensive touchdown, its running game was productive in the cold, wet conditions.
With junior Brandon Minor and freshman Sam McGuffie out with injuries, the Wolverines (2-5 Big Ten, 3-8 overall) looked to junior running back Carlos Brown.
Entering Saturday, Brown had four yards on three carries and hadn’t even dressed in several games this season.
But Brown had 115 yards on 23 carries against the Wildcats (4-3, 8-3).
Despite Brown’s effort, Northwestern snapped a five-game losing streak to Michigan.
Redshirt quarterback sophomore Nick Sheridan started Saturday, but redshirt freshman Steven Threet replaced him in the second half. After Threet went down with an injury, Sheridan finished the game.
Sheridan went 8-of-29 for 61 yards. Threet was 4-of-7 for 22 yards and one interception.
Junior free safety Stevie Brown intercepted a pass on the game’s opening drive and returned it to the eight-yard line. But the Wolverines’ ensuing drive stalled when Sheridan’s second- and third-down passes were nearly intercepted.
Northwestern blocked a 23-yard field goal attempt, but the Wolverines forced a three-and-out on the Wildcats’ next drive.
Freshman Martavious Odoms dropped the ensuing Northwestern punt and Wildcat wide receiver Eric Peterman recovered the ball just before it went out of bounds.
Then, on a third-and-18, Northwestern running back Stephen Simmons ran 21 yards for a touchdown, giving Northwestern a 7-0 lead.
Later in the first quarter, Sheridan ran for a four-yard touchdown to cap a 61-yard, 11-play drive. Ten of those plays were runs, including seven by Brown.
With 6:30 left in the second quarter, redshirt freshman Michael Williams blocked the Northwestern punt. Williams missed his attempt to grab the ball, and redshirt sophomore Ricky Reyes picked it up and ran into the end zone to give the Wolverines a 14-7 lead.
It was the first blocked punt returned for a touchdown since Marlin Jackson’s in 2001 against Wisconsin.
After Michigan went three-and-out on the second-half’s first drive, Northwestern blocked Zoltan Mesko’s punt.
The Wildcats took over at the Wolverine 40-yard line and needed just five plays to score. Northwestern quarterback C.J. Bacher hit Ross Lane in the end zone on a third-and-goal from the 17-yard line to tie the game at 14.
Michigan went three-and-out again on its next drive, and the Wildcats took over at their 34-yard line. On the drive’s fourth play, Bacher found Eric Peterman wide open deep downfield for a 53-yard touchdown, which put Northwestern up 21-14. Peterson ran by senior Brandon Harrison, and neither Stevie Brown nor fifth-year senior Charles Stewart helped deep.
Sophomore cornerback Donovan Warren intercepted a pass early in the fourth quarter. He ran the ball into the end zone but was ruled out of bounds at the Northwestern 44-yard line.
Michigan’s ensuing drive ended when Threet’s pass to fifth-year senior Mike Massey was a little high and intercepted in the end zone.
Neither team scored in the fourth quarter.
For full coverage of this afternoon’s loss, check SportsMonday on November 17.