Michigan doing best to ride momentum of win over Irish

Senior running back Mike Hart said his Wolverines squad has nothing to lose going into Big Ten play.

by Luke Middendorf

Michigan got a bit of a jump-start last weekend with 38-0 blowout of Notre Dame, and the Wolverines (1-2 overall, 0-0 Big Ten) is back on track to contend for a Big Ten title.

After starting the year 0-2, the Wolverines did not get off to the start that they or the rest of the nation expected. But running back Mike Hart said he had little doubt in his mind that Michigan could turn this season around in a hurry.

“We have nothing to lose. We’re 0-2,” Hart said before the Notre Dame game. “People are not going to expect anything out of us.”

Hart guaranteed a victory against Notre Dame last week, and said he wanted to carry the team on his shoulders.

With 187 yards and two touchdowns against the Fighting Irish, Hart sealed the deal and helped bring hope to the fans of Ann Arbor.

Another player stepped up in a big way against Notre Dame, with true freshman quarterback Ryan Mallett getting his first career start. Mallet passed for three touchdowns and made very few mistakes to lead the Wolverines to their first victory.

Mallett and fellow freshman quarterback Jimmy Clausen of Notre Dame faced off in the battle of the beat-down, and the Wolverine quarterback came out on top.

Irish freshman Jimmy Clausen was 11 of 17 for just 74 yards and an interception. Clausen was sacked eight times, leading to Notre Dame’s rushing total of minus-6 yards.

“I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes,” Mallett said of Clausen. “But he’s a great player.”

Badgers survive scare

The No. 7 Wisconsin Badgers sneaked out with a 45-31 victory over the Citadel last Saturday, surviving what could have been an Appalachian State type of loss.

Running back P.J. Hill carried most of the load for the Badgers, tying a school record with five touchdowns in the victory.

“Coach is always telling me the weight is on my shoulders,” Hill said. “I’ll take it, when I see the opportunity to get a few yards or score a touchdown.”

Wisconsin (3-0 overall, 0-0 Big Ten), extended the nation’s longest winning streak to 12 games, going back to last season. The streak, however, was in jeopardy in their game against the Citadel, as the score was tied at 21 going into halftime.

Ironically, the last loss for the Citadel was last season against Appalachian State, the same team that took down Michigan in the first week of the season.

But the Badgers avoided the same fate as the Wolverines with a big second half, sealing their fate when Tyler Donovan tossed a 25-yard touchdown pass to Travis Beckum to put the Badgers up 45-21 in the fourth quarter.

“(The Citadel) won six of their last seven games. They came in here with no flinch in their mechanism to go out there and score some points on us,” said Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema. “In the second half we just wore them down.”

Players of the week

The Big Ten announced their players of the week Monday. On offense, quarterback Kellen Lewis of Indiana took the honor. Lewis tallied five touchdowns in the Hoosiers’ victory over Akron, including two on the ground.

Lewis led the attack for Indiana by putting up 199 rushing yards, a career best. The sophomore quarterback also completed 79.2 percent of his passes by going 19 of 24 for 137 yards.

On defense, two players were award winners. Jonal Saint-Dic, a senior defensive end from Michigan State, forced a pair of fumbles while adding five total tackles. Among the tackles, three were for a loss and two were sacks. Ohio State junior linebacker James Laurinaitis was the other winner, picking off two passes and recording a team-high eight tackles. The Wayzata native also recorded a sack in the Buckeyes’ road victory over Washington.

The special teams player of the week was freshman return man David Gilreath of Wisconsin. Gilreath, originally from New Hope, Minn., totaled 148 yards against the Citadel, averaging 25 yards per kickoff return and 18.3 yards per punt return.