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Michigan looks to stay focused vs. Northwestern

Oct 24, 2006 - 7:24 PM Northwestern (2-6) at No. 2 Michigan (8-0), 12:00 pm EDT

ANN ARBOR, Michigan (Ticker) - Few would criticize Michigan for looking ahead a few weeks, but the Wolverines claim they will not allow themselves to do so.

After surviving a tough six-game stretch, the second-ranked Wolverines get a break Saturday when they host lowly Big Ten Conference foe Northwestern, which is coming off the biggest collapse in Division I-A history.

Michigan (8-0, 5-0 Big Ten) began its rugged stretch with a 47-21 road rout of then-No. 2 Notre Dame, then followed with victories over Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan State, Penn State and Iowa. The Wolverines only have this game and matchups vs. Ball State and Indiana before ending their regular season at top-ranked Ohio State on November 18.

The Wolverines were engaged in a tough matchup with the Hawkeyes here last Saturday before pulling away for a 20-6 victory. Mike Hart ran for 99 of his 126 yards and two touchdowns in the second half.

Michigan yielded just 41 yards on the ground and leads the country in rushing defense (33.6).

However, Hart says the Wolverines are not looking ahead to their clash with the Buckeyes yet.

"Everyone knows we've played our toughest games, our toughest stretch. Everyone knows that," Hart told the Detroit Free Press. "Now what are we going to do these next few weeks? Are we going to fall by the wayside so we're not ready when we get to O-State, or are we going to get better every week?"

Michigan may be without its top two receivers. Mario Manningham has missed the past two games after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, while Adrian Arrington may be disciplined after being arraigned on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge.

The Wildcats (2-6, 0-4) are coming off an embarrassing 41-38 home setback to Michigan State. Northwestern held a 38-3 lead midway through the third quarter before surrendering 38 unanswered points.

New starter C.J. Bacher threw for 245 yards and three touchdowns and Tyrell Sutton rushed for 172 yards for the Wildcats, who have lost five straight games.

The Wolverines have won three in a row over the Wildcats since a 54-51 loss in Evanston in 2001.

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