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Second-half surge lifts unbeaten Michigan over Northwestern

Denard Robinson's strong second half lifts Michigan over Northwestern
Denard Robinson's strong second half lifts Michigan over Northwestern
Associated Press

Brady Hoke insists there was no “Knute Rockne-type” halftime speech to the University of Michigan football team Saturday night at Northwestern.

His Wolverines trailed, 24-14 at halftime to the Wildcats, and the No. 12-ranked unbeaten team from Ann Arbor was in real trouble in its first road game of the season. But in the second half it was a different story.

Michigan outscored Northwestern, 28-0 after the intermission to win going away, 42-24 in front of a sold-out crowd of 47,330 at Ryan Field, in Evanston, Ill.

“Nothing special,” Hoke said when asked what he said to his team at halftime. “Just basics, fundamental stuff. We had to get back to what we do best.”

Yes, there was no call to win one for the Gipper.

“We made a few adjustments but no big thing,” said Michigan safety Jordan Kovacs.

Michigan’s second-half strength is nothing new. Before the game, the Wolverines had outscored opponents, 86-21.

On Saturday Michigan committed three first-half turnovers, all Denard Robinson interceptions, then committed none in the second half. Michigan came into the game leading the Big Ten with plus-7 in takeaways. Northwestern committed two second-half turnovers, after making none before intermission.

“When you turn the ball over three times and commit three bad penalties (in the first half), you’re going to fall behind,” said Hoke.

In the second half, Robinson took over, as he often does.

The quarterback finished with 442 yards of offense and led his team to four second-half touchdown drives, hitting 7 of 8 passes and rushing for 69 yards over the final 30 minutes. He threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more.

Michigan backup quarterback Devin Gardner replaced Robinson in one series when the Wolverines had the ball inside the 10-yard line when “Shoelaces” suffered an injured lefthand. Gardner looked Denard-like when he scored on a one-yard bootleg.

Later in the game, Robinson provided a highlight when he scored and lost his shoe in the process.

Michigan, 6-0, is now bowl eligible and is 6-0 for the first time since 2006. Northwestern, which has lost two straight, has lost six straight home league openers.

It was Michigan’s road opener and the Wolverines stay on the road next week when they travel to East Lansing to meet Michigan State. That game begins at noon and will be televised by ESPN.

For more info: mgoblue, annarbor.com, ESPN

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