ANN ARBOR - Michigan's march toward another Big Ten championship continues after yesterday's miraculous 45-37 triple-overtime victory over Michigan State in the Big House.
By RON MUSSELMAN
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
But the 12th-ranked Wolverines (8-1, 6-0) must contend with idle Wisconsin (8-0, 5-0), whom they do not play this season.
Should both teams win their remaining games and be declared co-champions, the Badgers would be guaranteed at least a trip to the Rose Bowl because Michigan went last year.
"We can't worry about Wisconsin," senior center David Baas said. "They're going to do what they're going to do, and we're going to do the same, which is try to win out and win a Big Ten championship.
"I knew the way the Big Ten schedule was shaped this year that certain teams didn't play certain teams, as is the case with us and Wisconsin. I knew if you wanted to win the Big Ten this year, you were going to have to be undefeated.
"One loss may destroy you."
Michigan, idle this Saturday, hosts Northwestern in two weeks before wrapping up its season at bitter rival Ohio State on Nov. 20. The Badgers, meanwhile, play Minnesota at home Saturday, then finish on the road at Michigan State and Iowa.
"You have to remain unblemished, and so far, it's coming true for us," Baas said. "Wisconsin is a great team, and they have a couple games left. We're just going to have to see how it turns out."
There's a slight chance the Badgers could qualify for the Bowl Championship Series national championship game in the Orange Bowl if they finish unbeaten. Under that scenario, Michigan would likely return to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
"I think you're wasting energy and time if you concern yourself with things that you have no control over," Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. "At some point, when we get to 12 teams [in the Big Ten], we'll be able to make a lot of money by having playoff games and that will settle some of this."
Although it is a long shot, the Wolverines could qualify for another BCS game, if the Badgers play in the Rose Bowl.
"That's where we want to go - to a BCS game," cornerback Marlin Jackson said.
BIG NUMBERS: The two teams combined for 1,031 yards total offense, 52 first down and 82 points.
The Spartans rolled up 368 yards on the ground and 535 yards overall against the Wolverines, who had the nation's third-stingiest run defense coming in, allowing 71.6 yards per game.
Michigan State tailback DeAndra Cobb rushed for 205 yards on 22 carries - a 9.3 average - and scored on runs of 72 and 64 yards.
"They exploited us on those two plays," safety Ernest Shazor said.
QUICK HITS: Michigan State lost starting quarterback Drew Stanton to a separated right throwing shoulder with 3:15 to play in the first half after he was hit by LaMarr Woodley. Stanton, who passed for 95 yards and rushed for 80, is expected to miss 2-3 weeks. His replacement, Damon Dowdell, completed 8 of 13 passes for 72 yards and gained 32 yards on six carries. ... Michigan finished 5-0 in October after its seventh consecutive win. ... Braylon Edwards' three touchdown catches were a career high. He also became UM's career receiving yardage leader (3,206 yards), passing Anthony Carter. And he moved into second place (behind Carter) in school history with 35 touchdown receptions. ... Linebacker Scott McClintock led the Wolverines with 12 tackles. ... Kicker Garrett Rivas set a career-high with 13 points.