ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — With seven wins, Michigan has likely locked up a bowl game in a warm climate.
The Wolverines would love to upset Wisconsin and stun rival Ohio State to make their expected postseason trip even sweeter.
“To win these next two games is very motivating,” nose tackle Adam Patterson said Monday. “My understanding is, the more wins, the better the bowls.”
Michigan (7-3, 3-3 Big Ten) is a 5½-point underdog Saturday at home against the sixth-ranked Badgers (9-1, 5-1) and probably will be expected to lose by even more next week on the road against the No. 8 Buckeyes, who have won six straight in the series.
“We need this Ohio State win, bigger than anything,” cornerback James Rogers said. “That’s something we’ve been waiting on. I guarantee that’s where our focus is going to be at real soon.
“We’re going to take on Wisconsin first.”
The Badgers could make Michigan pay for peeking ahead to its next opponent.
They’ve won five straight Big Ten games — including a 13-point victory over then-No. 1 Ohio State — since losing to Michigan State and are coming off an 83-20 rout of Indiana.
Wisconsin is big, strong and experienced on offense and appears to be set up for even more success against a small, weak and inexperienced defense that has given up an average of 38.2 points and 456-plus yards in conference games.
Rogers, though, is confident the Badgers won’t be able to run up the score as they did against the Hoosiers.
“I guarantee they’re not going to score 83 points on us,” he said.
If Wisconsin comes close to that total — as Illinois did in a 67-65 triple-overtime loss in the last game at the Big House — Michigan won’t be able to overcome quarterback Denard Robinson having another lackluster game.
Robinson threw for 176 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions during Saturday’s win at Purdue. He also had two fumbles on 22 carries, managing a season-low 3.1 yards per rush. But he bounced back well enough to complete a 25-yard pass to Kevin Koger on a third-and-7 and to run for 11 yards on a third-and-9 from the Purdue 20, setting up Stephen Hopkins’ TD run that gave the Wolverines a 27-16 lead with 1:58 remaining.
“He was having a tough day,” coach Rich Rodriguez said. “But in the last drive, he was the difference.”
After an electric start that helped Michigan open 5-0, Robinson has fizzled at times. The past two games, he has thrown two interceptions and been held to 3.3 yards or fewer per rushing attempt.
“There’s pretty good people he’s playing against, but I don’t think he’s hit a wall,” Rodriguez said. “I just think he had some bad moments in the last game.”