EVANSTON, Ill. — No. 15 Michigan flirted with a loss on the road.
But unlike the season-opening loss at Notre Dame, this comeback was completed.
Karan Higdon’s 5-yard touchdown run with 4:06 to play Saturday gave Michigan its first lead of the contest, and proved to be the winner as the Wolverines erased a 17-point deficit to win 20-17 at Northwestern.
On this day, Michigan finished the game with 11 penalties for 100 yards. The Wolverines struggled with vanilla offense and sloppy defense throughout a nightmarish first half. Couldn’t get much going through the air. Couldn’t get much going on the ground.
But found a way.
Higdon finished with 30 carries for 115 yards and two scores, and Patterson was 15 of 24 passing for 196 yards. He made numerous key plays on the ground, evading defenders and gaining 31 yards on seven carries.
Michigan’s defense allowed 10 points and 105 yards in the first quarter, but kept the Wildcats in check the rest of the way, as Northwestern finished with 202 yards of total offense.
After a poor first half, Michigan found itself down 17-7 at halftime with a productive early third-quarter drive that moved 69 yards in 11 plays. But Patterson’s throw to an open Grant Perry in the end zone was long, resulting in a field goal.
Michigan got another defensive stop, leading to another lengthy drive — highlighted by a 24-yard throw from Patterson to Nick Eubanks. Patterson’s attempt for Nico Collins on a slant in the end zone went high. Quinn Nordin added another field goal in the red zone, making it 17-13, Wildcats after three quarters.
After another defensive stop, Michigan had a drive stopped on a controversial holding call on Higdon that wiped out a first-down scramble from Patterson.
After a punt and another hold by the defense, Patterson methodically moved the ball down the field once more, zipping in a throw for 22 yards to tight end Zach Gentry to set up first-and-goal from the 6-yard line with five minutes to play. Higdon crashed in off right tackle from five yards out to give the Wolverines their first lead of the game, 20-17, with 4:06 to play.
Northwestern had one final chance with four seconds left at its own 49, but Josh Uche sacked Clayton Thorson as time expired.
Northwestern dominated the first half, taking the opening drive 56 yards for a touchdown, then adding a field goal with 3:58 in the first quarter.
It got worse, though, as the Wildcats took a botched Michigan fourth-down play and turned it into a 52-yard touchdown drive, polished off by a 3-yard scoring run from John Moten IV, putting the Wolverines down 17-0.