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Big Ten: Michigan win sets up showdown for title

By Wire services
Published November 16, 2003

EVANSTON, Ill. - Coming off of a bye week, Lloyd Carr feared Michigan might spend too much time thinking about Ohio State, the Rose Bowl, the Big Ten title - everything but Northwestern.

The Wolverines wasted no time Saturday proving their coach wrong.

John Navarre passed for 288 yards and two touchdowns as Michigan jumped all over Northwestern in a 24-point second quarter and beat the Wildcats 41-10.

"Any time you have Ohio State the next week, you worry about a letdown no matter who you're playing because that game is special," Carr said. "Coming off a bye week made it more questionable in my mind."

Michigan is one win from its league-record 41st conference title and a likely trip to the Rose Bowl. Saturday, the Wolverines will host Ohio State for sole possession of the Big Ten championship.

Navarre led the Wolverines to a huge second quarter with touchdowns to Braylon Edwards and Jason Avant, who made a one-handed grab to give Michigan a 31-3 lead at halftime.

Navarre completed his first eight passes and led Michigan into scoring position on every possession of the first half except for the final series, when the Wolverines let the clock run down before halftime.

Wildcats linebacker Pat Durr left no doubt about which team he thinks is the best in the Big Ten. The Wildcats lost 20-0 to Ohio State this season.

"By far, Michigan," Durr said. "Offensively, they're balanced and they have so many weapons. Defensively, they fly around."

IOWA 40, MINNESOTA 22: Iowa wanted to protect the pig and defend its turf. With some timely turnovers, the Hawkeyes did both.

Iowa recovered four fumbles and intercepted a pass, and Nate Kaeding tied his school record with four field goals.

The visiting Golden Gophers gained 563 yards but Iowa led 40-6 by the time Minnesota got into the end zone.

The Hawkeyes' opportunistic defense ensured that the Floyd of Rosedale, the pig statue that goes to the winner of the annual game, will stay in Iowa City.

The Gophers led the nation in rushing coming in at 304 yards a game but gained only 54 in the middle two quarters.

"I don't think we really cared too much about people hyping them up on offense," Iowa defensive end Howard Hodges said. "It was more like, they're coming into Kinnick (Stadium) and they wanted to run across the field and take Floyd from us."

Minnesota quarterback Asad Abdul-Khaliq lost three fumbles and threw an interception. He threw for 388 yards but no touchdowns. Minnesota's leading rusher, Marion Barber III, left with a groin injury after gaining 25 yards on the first two plays.

WISCONSIN 56, MICHIGAN ST. 21: The only thing Lee Evans loves more than facing Michigan State is seeing the Spartans in man-to-man coverage.

"If you beat your man, then you can have a lot of success," Evans said after tying a Big Ten record with five touchdown catches for the host Badgers.

The Spartans never adjusted, doubling Evans only when he lined up in the slot but usually leaving sophomore cornerback Darren Barnett to fend for himself when Wisconsin's career receiving leader lined up outside.

"He's the best receiver I've ever faced," Barnett said. "I've never seen anyone want the ball so much. He's so fluid and talented. But we didn't come out ready to play him."

Evans tied the Big Ten mark for TD catches in a game, set in 1993 by Minnesota's Omar Douglas, and caught 10 passes for 258 yards, passing Al Toon's school mark of 252, set in 1983 vs. Purdue. Evans caught TDs of 9, 75, 18, 70 and 18 yards from Jim Sorgi.

Dwayne Smith, who replaced Booker Stanley (knee) on the first series, ran 21 times for 207 yards and three scores, giving the Badgers a 200-yard receiver and 200-yard runner in the same game for the second time ever. The first was Sept.6 against Akron.

PENN STATE 52, INDIANA 7: Zack Mills passed for 173 yards and three touchdowns and Tony Johnson had three TD catches for the host Nittany Lions. PSU snapped a six-game losing streak, its longest since losing seven in a row in 1931.

[Last modified November 16, 2003, 01:34:40]


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