Michigan Wolverines football team faces another ranked team in No. 13 Wisconsin Badgers
By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer
ANN ARBOR — Wisconsin’s wait is almost over.
The 13th-ranked Badgers are set to play at Michigan on Saturday night, three weeks after their season-opening win.
Wisconsin has been idle because it canceled two games due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the program.
“It’s been kind of weird and sad a little bit, not being able to play,” Badgers receiver Kendric Pryor said. “I don’t pay too much attention to the rankings, but I do look and see where we’re at each week.”
Wisconsin (1-0, 1-1 Big Ten) has dropped in the AP Top 25 in each of the last two weeks after rising to No. 9 following its 45-7 win over Illinois.
The Badgers bounced back well enough with testing results that athletic director Barry Alvarez announced Monday the team would be back on the field against the Wolverines (1-2, 1-2), confident that the coronavirus outbreak has been handled.
As of last week, Wisconsin had 27 active COVID-19 cases involving 15 players and 12 staffers.
“That adversity is kind of affecting all teams,” Pryor said. “It may have hit us a little bit harder than it hit other people, but it’s how you bounce back from it.”
Michigan has had plenty of adversity on the field, putting Jim Harbaugh in danger of having the first 1-3 team at the school since 1967.
To avoid that dubious distinction, Harbaugh has to lead the Wolverines to an upset victory for the first time. Harbaugh is 0-10 as an underdog, leading college football’s winningest program.
“My expectation is to win this game,” Harbaugh said.
The Wolverines, who started the season No. 16, are unranked for the first time since the end of the 2017 season. That is also the last time they lost two straight games in the regular season.
“Being 1-2, you can tell there is pressure building on us,” Michigan defensive end Taylor Upshaw acknowledged. “We have to perform the way we’re capable of performing.”
The Wolverines will be without one of their best players, defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, who broke his leg in last week’s loss at Indiana.
Upshaw, who has played sparingly since stepping on campus in 2018, sounds ready to take advantage of a chance to play more.
“I haven’t received the playing time that I would have wanted,” Upshaw said. “Now, it’s a do-or-die situation so I’m happy I get to showcase my skills to the nation.”