Since falling behind by a touchdown in the second quarter, the Northwestern Wildcats have battled back to take control of their game Saturday against Michigan, and now lead 24-21 heading into the fourth quarter.
For the Wildcats, it was a productive third quarter, thanks in large part to quarterback Kain Colter. The junior quarterback threw his second touchdown of the game to open the second half, hitting Dan Vitale for a 23-yard score. Kicker Jeff Budzien added a field goal later in the third to give the Wildcats a 10-point lead.
But before Northwestern could get too comfortable, Michigan came back to cut their lead to the current three point margin. Devin Gardner hit Fitzgerald Touissaint out of the backfield, and the running back did the rest, taking the ball 23 yards for the score. Toussaint's score cut the Northwestern lead to 24-21.
For Northwestern, Saturday is a must-win game if they hope to keep their Big Ten title hopes alive. The Wildcats trail both Nebraska and Michigan by one game in the Legends Division standings, and a loss would eliminate them from any chance of playing in the conference title game.
A quick start and a quick finish to the first half have allowed Northwestern to go into halftime tied with Michigan at 14-14.
Things started off promising for the Wildcats, which entered Saturday at 4-1 in Big Ten play, and in need of a win to stay alive in the conference championship race. Northwestern got on the board early in the first quarter, thanks to a Venric Mark touchdown run. It capped a 10-play drive, that spanned 78 yards.
Maybe more impressive though was Northwestern's touchdown before the half to tie things up at 14. It came on a six-play, 56-yard drive, which spanned just 1:28. The drive ended with a beautiful Kain Culter touchdown pass to Trevor Siemian.
Meanwhile, Michigan has had little trouble moving the ball on Northwestern as well. The Wolverines scored in the first quarter on an 8-yard touchdown run by Devin Gardner and followed it up with a 1-yard run by Thomas Rawls for their second score of the game.
Gardner, who is starting the second straight game for the injured Denard Robinson has been impressive, with 76 yards and another 48 rushing.
After one quarter, Northwestern and Michigan are tied at 7-7 in a crucial Big Ten Legends Division showdown.
For Northwestern, the visitors got the scoring started early, thanks to the talented Venric Mark. The running back carried the ball five times on the Wildcats' opening drive for 20 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown score to put the Wildcats up 7-0.
Michigan wouldn't take long to respond though.
On their next drive, the Wolverines, who are without Denard Robinson for the second straight week due to an elbow injury, were led down the field by backup quarterback Devin Gardner. Gardner completed five of his seven passes on the drive for 57 yards, then used his feet for the final few. Gardner's 8-yard touchdown run tied things at 7-7.
This is a particularly important game for the Wildcats, who at 3-2 in the Big Ten, trail both Nebraska an Michigan (4-1 apiece) in the Legends Division standings.