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Published: Sunday, 11/13/2005

Wolverines notebook: After 3-3 start, UM has rebounded to stay alive in race for Big Ten title

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

ANN ARBOR - It wasn't so long ago that Michigan was 3-3. After yesterday's 41-14 win over Indiana, which lost its fifth straight game, the Wolverines are 7-3 and find the door still cracked to a Big Ten title share.

That will be decided next weekend when Penn State visits Michigan State and the Wolverines host arch-rival Ohio State.

That UM is still in the mix at 5-2 in conference play is a pretty fair accomplishment, said coach Lloyd Carr.

"The win here against Penn State, especially considering the way we won on the last play, certainly got us going," Carr said of an Oct. 15 game that started UM's current four-game win streak. "Going into that game I thought [our players] were resilient, tough people who have made great investments in their athletic careers and had a great belief.

"I think everyone finally realized that they couldn't do it as individuals and that there had to be a great trust in each other, meaning that everybody had to be accountable. That allowed us to fight out of a difficult situation."

Indiana, meanwhile, is headed in the other direction with a season-ending game against state rival Purdue next Saturday. The Hoosiers once owned records of 3-0 and 4-1, but fell to 4-6 and 1-6 yesterday.

"I just feel bad for our seniors because we didn't get what we set out to get for them," said Indiana coach Terry Hoeppner.

HART RESTS: Carr said that running back Mike Hart could have played yesterday and that the fact he didn't "was affected by next week," meaning the Ohio State game.

Hart has been nursing an ankle injury. He has played in six games and has 573 net rushing yards.

"He was bugging me to play, but I wanted to wait and see how we got started in the game," Carr said. "We got up and it didn't make sense to play him. I think the extra three or four days [of rest] going into Tuesday's practice will put him where he needs to be."

PASSING FANCY: Carr said improved execution in the passing game was the main focus during UM's bye week. Quarterback Chad Henne, who passed for 174 yards and three touchdowns, said the mission was accomplished.

"The wide receivers were always in the right spots and the line gave me plenty of time," said Henne, who surpassed the 2,000-yard passing mark for the second straight season. "It all came together today and that's all any quarterback can ask for.

"Today gave us a pretty good idea that we're pushing forward offensively to where we know we can be."

THREE-DOT DATA: Carr coached his 70th game in Michigan Stadium yesterday. His record is 62-8. ... Freshman wide receiver Antonio Bass had the first three receptions of his career for UM. ... The Wolverines' 41 first-half points were their most in one half since 45 against Indiana during a 58-0 shutout in 2000. ... It was UM's 14th straight win vs. the Hoosiers. ... Running back Kevin Grady rushed for a career-high 94 yards and had his first multi-touchdown game. ... Wideout Jason Avant's five catches gave him 157 for his career, moving him past David Terrell and into fourth place on UM's all-time list. ... Henne is now No. 4 on the school's career TD pass list with 44. ... Steve Breaston needs 35 receiving yards against Ohio State Saturday to join Wisconsin's Nick Davis as the only Big Ten players to record 1,000 career yards in three different categories - pass receiving, kickoff returns and punt returns.


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