Posted by Adam Jacobi
MICHIGAN WON. After a slow start, Michigan outscored Northwestern 28-0 in the second half to earn a 42-24 victory in Evanston. Denard Robinson overcame three early interceptions to lead the Wolverines with 325 yards passing and 117 yards on the ground. The win pushes Michigan's record to 6-0, its best start since 2006 when the Wolverines opened the season 11-0.
WHY MICHIGAN WON: For the first half, Northwestern looked like the sharper team; the Wildcats led 24-14 and that was only after a pair of dropped passes in the end zone by Northwestern receivers before a half-ending field goal. Michigan came out strong in the second half, and once the turnovers started for Northwestern, this game was in hand for the Wolverines.
WHEN MICHIGAN WON: Michigan took the lead in the third quarter, but this one didn't appear to be truly in the bag until Northwestern failed on a 4th down conversion with a little over seven minutes left -- and more on that play in a bit. The Wildcats wouldn't get the ball back until there was 2 minutes left and an 18-point Michigan lead, and at that point the game's functionally over.
WHAT MICHIGAN WON: This was Michigan's first game away from home, and also a quality test of Michigan's mettle -- especially with a 10-point deficit. Denard Robinson, in particular, righted his ship and got out of the second half without committing a turnover, which was instrumental in Michigan's comeback. The Wolverines don't have much time to enjoy the victory, though, as a road game at Michigan State looms this week.
WHAT NORTHWESTERN LOST: Believe it or not, Northwestern's now on a three-game losing streak, dropping contests to Army, Illinois, and now Michigan. The Wildcats surrendered a late, backbreaking touchdown drive to both Army and Illinois, and now the complete second half collapse is on Northwestern's resume. Dan Persa at least looked good this week, though certainly not at his 2010 levels of play. This game might have gone a different way if Northwestern played as sharp as it did in the first half, but alas, no such luck -- and now Northwestern is 2-3.
THAT WAS CRAZY: On Northwestern's 4th down play mentioned earlier, Persa had his helmet ripped off by a blitzing Jordan Kovacs in the pocket. He stayed up and scrambled to get the play off, but it feel incomplete. Pat Fitzgerald screamed for a face mask penalty, which he didn't get... but Fitzgerald did get a 15-yard penalty for his efforts to persuade the officials. At a high volume. Two inches from the officials' faces. Oh, and Persa was ruled down at the point where Kovacs took off his helmet, so it went down as a 10-yard sack. Not fun times for the Wildcats, there.