MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin’s Michael Deiter started for the 38th consecutive time on Saturday — 16 at center, 11 at left guard, and 11 at left tackle.
Not bad for a three-star recruit who didn’t field offers from the Ohio States and Alabamas of college football. Instead, Wisconsin saw in Deiter, a Genoa graduate, a people-mover who could develop into a mainstay on the offensive line.
Wisconsin offensive lineman Michael Deiter scores a touchdown in the fourth quarter of a game against Illinois this season. The Genoa graduate's strength and versatility are among the reasons the Badgers are 11-0 this season.
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The Badgers’ prudence paid off. Deiter, a junior, is the most valuable member of one of the top lines in the country, opening holes for freshman phenom running back Jonathan Taylor and placing Wisconsin two wins away from the College Football Playoff.
“We’ve hit the point where we have been working for so long, you expect [to win],” Deiter said last week. “You knew at some point we were going to get better. How would you not? It’s just been a lot of fun.”
Deiter, a 6-foot-6, 328-pound goliath, is one of the most versatile offensive linemen in the sport. He played left guard and center in his first two seasons before moving to left tackle this season, filling a void left by first-round draft pick Ryan Ramczyk. Through 11 games, Deiter’s only been responsible for one sack while the Badgers rank 18th nationally in rushing offense.
“I never thought I’d play tackle at the college level,” Dieter said. “I never thought I’d have the length to play tackle. Every week, it’s just about getting better. There’s no way I can say I have it down — not yet.”
And it’s not just on the field where Deiter’s presence is felt. He’s also developed into a vocal leader, one of the voices on the team that draws attention when it’s heard.
In two weeks, he’ll face Ohio State, his boyhood rooting interest, with a national championship opportunity possibly at stake.
SECOND GUESSING: Most, not all, was well for Michigan in the first half.
The Wolverines outplayed Wisconsin, despite what the scoreboard said, and dominated statistically. Michigan converted 4 of 9 third-down attempts, and Wisconsin only converted 1 of 6.
But those numbers differed greatly in the second half: Wisconsin was 4 of 9 and Michigan was 1 of 11. Three of Wisconsin's five longest plays from scrimmage came on third-and-long.
“We just didn’t execute on third down,” senior defensive lineman Maurice Hurst said. “We didn't follow through how we should have, and that led to them getting points on the board.”
HOUSE OF HORRORS: Michigan continued a recent streak of futility in Madison with Saturday’s loss to the Badgers.
After only losing twice at Camp Randall Stadium during a 35-year stretch, from 1966 to 2001, the Wolverines have now lost their last four games at Wisconsin — 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2017.
Since the start of the 2004 season, Wisconsin is 85-10 at home, ranking second among Power Five schools. Ohio State’s 89 wins are first.
ROAD BLUES: Saturday was Michigan’s 16th consecutive loss to a ranked opponent on the road, an ignominious streak for a proud program.
The Wolverines’ last such victory came against Notre Dame in 2006. Another inglorious number is the amount of days it’s been since Michigan beat a team with a winning record: 414, dating to Oct. 1 of last year when UM beat Wisconsin.
“Just keep fighting,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said.
DOWN HILL: Sophomore cornerback Lavert Hill did not travel to Wisconsin after suffering a concussion last week at Maryland.
Hill’s status was unclear all week, as he didn’t practice. He entered the concussion protocol during the second quarter of the Maryland game.
Without Hill, senior Brandon Watson started. He had two tackles and two pass breakups, and he was also on the wrong end of a Wisconsin third-and-long completion.
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