EVANSTON, Ill. — Karan Higdon ran for 115 yards and two touchdowns, Shea Patterson threw 196 yards and No. 14 Michigan overcame a 17-point deficit to beat Northwestern 20-17 on Saturday.
Higdon gave the Wolverines (4-1, 2-0 Big Ten) the lead with a 5-yard run with 4:06 remaining. Higdon averaged 3.8 yards on 30 carries, and Patterson completed 15-of-24 passes to help Michigan win its fourth in a row.
Michigan held Northwestern to 97 yards of total offense in the final three quarters and had six sacks for the game. Defensive end Chase Winovich had a team-high eight solo tackles and a sack.
It was Michigan's biggest comeback since 2011 against Notre Dame (also 17 points) and Jim Harbaugh's largest comeback as a college coach.
"I talked about it at halftime. We are being tested and it's time to find out what we're made of,"' Harbaugh said. "Our guys really responded."
Clayton Thorson completed 16-of-27 passes for 174 yards for Northwestern (1-3, 1-1) in the Wildcats' third consecutive loss.
John Moten IV had 36 yards on 13 rushes and a touchdown in his first start for Northwestern. He took over for Jeremy Larkin after Larkin retired this week because of a spinal condition.
Michigan has won seven consecutive games at Ryan Field.
A 14½-point underdog, Northwestern jumped out to a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter on short TD runs by Thorson and Moten and a career-high 45-yard field goal by Charlie Kuhbander.
Michigan, which had minus-2 yards on its first two possessions, pulled to 17-7 on Higdon's 4-yard run in the second quarter. The Wolverines made it 17-13 in the third on Quinn Nordin's two field goals.
Neither team could generate much offense in the fourth until Hidgon's second TD capped an 11-play, 67-yard drive. The key play in the drive was a 22-yard pass from Patterson to Zach Gentry for first-and-goal at the 6.
"Offensively, it just seemed like the plays we made in the first half, we went 0-fer in the second half," Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald said. "I thought Michigan's front dominated the second half, and that was the difference in the game."
Michigan: It certainly wasn't pretty — particularly on the offensive side — but the defense stepped up to shut down the Wildcats following a fast start.
Northwestern: After being on a pitch count in the first three games, Thorson went the distance and eliminated the mistakes that led to the loss against Akron two weeks ago. But again, the offense bogged down after a fast start and struggled to gain first downs in the second half.