MADISON – Michigan officially lost when Chad Henne slipped on the wet turf as time expired. But the game was over long before that.

The Badgers called a timeout from the Michigan four-yard line with 38 seconds left on the clock. After the pause, quarterback John Stocco threw two incomplete passes – the second of which Michigan cornerback Leon Hall nearly intercepted in the back corner of the end zone.

But Stocco made up for those miscues with a four-yard quarterback draw that put the Badgers ahead for good. Michigan lost to Wisconsin 23-20 – the first time it opened the Big Ten season with a loss since 1981.

“It was hard-hitting football,” Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. “It was a great football game, but from our standpoint, it’s certainly a great disappointment.”

Seconds after Stocco crossed the goal line, fireworks shot up from the southeast corner of the end zone, in spite of Wisconsin’s impending extra-point attempt.

As it turns out, the Badgers’ celebration was premature by just 24 seconds. Michigan’s offense sputtered in its last-second comeback attempt, culminating in Henne’s stumble on fourth-and-20.

“It’s hard,” Michigan nose tackle Gabe Watson said. “You always try to keep your head up and think that if the offense is not doing it, the defense is going to pull it out, and then if the defense is not doing it, the offense or special teams – We’re always looking forward for the best. But it’s hard to see. They haven’t beat us in the last eight years, and it’s tough just to lose to them.”

Stocco wouldn’t have been in position to make the play if tailback Brian Calhoun hadn’t chipped away at the Michigan defense throughout the second half. In the final 30 minutes, Calhoun gained 111 yards on 23 carries and caught five passes for 48 yards.

The Wolverines contained Calhoun in the first half, limiting the nation’s leading scorer to 53 yards on the ground. But Wisconsin’s relentless reliance on Calhoun paid off on its final possession of the game.

With 4:29 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Badgers regained possession on their 48-yard line, and Calhoun ran the ball on three straight plays. Stocco then completed a nine-yard pass to wide receiver Brandon Williams, but Calhoun received the next four touches, getting the ball inside the Michigan five and setting up the game-winning score.

“He does a great job of reading his blocks and making great cuts,” Carr said. “The six, seven, eight-yarders – those runs keep the chains moving and maintain possession.”

Calhoun accounted for 39 of the 52 yards Wisconsin amassed on its final drive. Even more impressive, the 5-foot-10 tailback touched the ball 42 times for 223 yards of total offense. As a team, the Badgers notched 287 yards on 75 plays.

“I gained a lot of respect for him,” Carr said of Calhoun. “I liked him coming into this game. He is one tough guy, and he keeps coming.”

Calhoun capitalized on Wisconsin’s great field position throughout the second half with his lone touchdown early in the fourth quarter. In his second straight start, Michigan tailback Max Martin fumbled on the Wolverines’ 23-yard line. After Wisconsin linebacker Mark Zalewski recovered the ball and Michigan committed a personal foul, Calhoun ran twice for 12 yards and the score, which pulled the Badgers within three points, 13-10.

One of the few Wolverines able to stop Calhoun, linebacker David Harris recorded all nine of his tackles against the tailback, including two for a loss. But Harris and the rest of the Michigan defense could only do so much after being on the field for more than 20 minutes in the second half.

“The last drive – you can’t think about being fatigued,” Harris said. “With everything on the line like it was, you pretty much just put it out of your mind and play as hard as you can.”

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