ANN ARBOR, Michigan (Ticker) -- Michigan got its wake-up call at halftime.
Mike Hart rushed for 151 yards and three touchdowns and Chad Henne passed for a pair of scores as the ninth-ranked Wolverines erupted in the second half to rout Northwestern, 42-20, and remain unbeaten in the Big Ten Conference.
"I knew we had to step up in the second half," Hart said. "I didn't want to send the seniors out with a loss."
"Everybody knew we didn't play a good first half," Henne added. "I don't think we were focused in the first half, but we got it done in the second half. We came out with fire in our eyes."
Michigan (9-1, 7-0 Big Ten) sputtered in the first half, managing only a 7-6 lead at the intermission. The Wolverines responded by scoring touchdowns on their first five possessions of the second half.
Michigan got more good news when Wisconsin was routed by Michigan State, 49-14, for its first loss of the season. That result leaves the Wolverines in position to clinch the outright Big Ten title with a win at Ohio State next week.
"Coach (Lloyd) Carr wasn't happy going into the tunnel. Some of the guys in the offensive line weren't picking up stunts," Henne said."(Senior center David) Baas got on the guys who weren't picking them up."
Carr felt that some of Michigan's first-half sluggishness might have been a result of not playing last week.
"Coming off a bye, you never know what you're going to get," Carr said. "We practiced well but we certainly didn't come out here ready to play offensively. It was obvious. We had penalties. We fumbled the ball. We did everything. We had guys open and we missed them, so we were in a dogfight. The good news is that our defense played extremely well."
Henne completed 19-of-26 passes for 187 yards. His 10-yard TD pass to Steve Breaston gave Michigan a 35-13 cushion 5:11 into the fourth quarter. Just 35 seconds later, Breaston completed the Wolverines' barrage with a 67-yard punt return for a touchdown.
"We were able to run the football a lot more effectively (in the second half)," Carr said.
Breaston, who has been bothered by a stress fracture in his foot and a broken finger all season, recorded 272 all-purpose yards on 14 touches.
"My foot felt a whole lot better this week," Breaston said. "I had a great week of practice. I could feel that I was getting my speed back."
"He has been hobbled since spring," Carr said. "In the last few days of practice we really began to see an explosiveness about him that we haven't seen since last fall."
Noah Herron rushed for 156 yards and Brett Basanez completed 23-of-43 passes for 211 yards for the Wildcats (5-5, 4-3), who need to win their final two games to become bowl eligible.
"It wasn't like we got our butt stomped," Northwestern coach coach Randy Walker. "We left some points on the field, but we weren't playing just another team out there. When it came to crunch time, they (Michigan) know how to crunch."
Michigan has won eight straight since losing at Notre Dame and can finish unbeaten in the Big Ten with a victory at Ohio State next week.
"This is our season," linebacker LaMarr Woodley said of the Ohio State game. "We're competing for the ring. We have a lot to lose and they don't have anything to lose."