for this game

Michigan rallies to stun No. 8 Wisconsin

Sep 28, 2008 - 1:49 AM ANN ARBOR, Michigan (Ticker) -- Score one for Rich Rodriguez and Michigan, who gave their fans quite a thrill on a historic day at the Big House.

The underdog Wolverines erased a 19-point halftime deficit and survived a turnover-filled slugfest to upset eighth-ranked Wisconsin, 27-25, in Saturday's Big Ten Conference opener for both schools.

"It is just a great win," Rodriguez said. "I am so proud of these young men."

Michigan (2-2, 1-0 Big Ten) looked listless in falling behind, 19-0, through the opening 30 minutes and entered the break to a chorus of boos from the capacity crowd at Michigan Stadium.

But in the 500th game played at the storied stadium, the Wolverines reeled off 27 straight second-half points to record the second-biggest comeback victory in school history.

"There was no panic," Rodriguez said. "We were just trying to make some corrections. But if there was a hole to crawl into, I'm sure a bunch of us, including myself, would have liked to crawl into it.

"But we didn't. We hung in there with the guys and they did a tremendous job on defense to keep us in it. That's why I felt at halftime that we still had a chance."

It was a signature win for Rodriguez, who received a hero's welcome upon his arrival to Ann Arbor in the winter but has come under fire following Michigan's inauspicious start .

Rodriguez, who already compiled an impressive coaching resume during his seven-year stint at West Virginia, guided Michigan to the biggest comeback win since the Wolverines started playing their home games here in 1927.

The largest deficit Michigan has ever rallied from was a 21-point margin in 2003, when the Wolverines posted a 38-35 win at Minnesota.

"Obviously, the crowd helped us in the second half," Rodriguez said. "We had a bounce in our step in the fourth quarter and we pulled off a great win."

Wisconsin (3-1, 0-1) appeared headed to an easy win after forcing five turnovers in the first half.

But the Wolverines played inspired football after the break and took their first lead of the game at 20-19 when linebacker John Thompson intercepted a tipped pass at Wisconsin's 25-yard line and followed a host of blockers across the goal line with 10:24 remaining.

"My first goal was to get to the end zone," Thompson said. "The ball popped up, so I ran to the football and got my hands on it and as soon as I did, I was thinking end zone."

Michigan expanded its lead to 27-19 on Sam McGuffie's 3-yard touchdown run with 5:11 remaining.

That set the stage for a wild ending. After losing a fumble deep in Michigan territory on their previous possession, the Badgers pulled within 27-25 on Allan Evridge's 22-yard TD pass to David Gilreath with 13 seconds left.

Wisconsin appeared to forge a tie when Evridge found tight end Travis Beckum for a diving two-point conversion. But the play was nullified by an ineligible receiver penalty on Beckum, and Evridge's pass on the ensuing attempt sailed well out of the end zone.

"It was improper alignment on our part, which was kind of the story for us all day," Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said. "Travis wasn't lined up correctly."

The failed conversion essentially ended the contest and secured Michigan's 23rd consecutive win in a Big Ten home opener.

Conversely, Wisconsin dropped its fifth consecutive contest here and fell to 6-27 all-time at the Big House. The Badgers have not won here since 1994.

Michigan finally got on the scoreboard with 2:22 remaining in the third quarter when Steven Threet, who struggled in the first half, found Kevin Koger for a 26-yard touchdown pass to make it 19-7.

The Wolverines clawed within 19-14 on Brandon Minor's 34-yard TD run with 10:27 remaining. Thompson rumbled for his go-ahead score just three seconds later.

"There were doing a great job up front and bringing guys that have a great group back on defense," Evridge said. "They bring things, but that's football."

Michigan was outgained, 384-268, in a game that was marred by a combined total of nine turnovers.

Threet completed just 12-of-31 attempts for 96 yards and was intercepted twice. The freshman finished with 89 rushing yards, including a 58-yard scamper that set up McGuffie's TD in the fourth quarter.

"I have to take my hat off to our defense," Threet said. "They played amazing and kept us in the ballgame in the first half, and we weren't doing it ourselves."

"(Threet) normally makes great decisions, but he didn't make good ones in the first half," Rodriguez added. "He hung in there, and we had to hang in there with him because he is our best one."

Evridge finished 20-of-37 for 226 yards and two interceptions. Wisconsin's John Clay rushed for 52 yards and scored on a 5-yard run in the second quarter that gave the Badgers a 13-0 cushion.