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Michigan Wolverines lay biggest egg ever in home football loss to Wisconsin Badgers, 49-11

Michigan receiver Mike Sainristil, front, defended by Wisconsin’s Faion Hicks, fails to make a catch in the end zone in the third quarter in Ann Arbor on Saturday. (AP photo)

By LARRY LAGE

AP Sports Writer

ANN ARBOR — No. 13 Wisconsin was ready, not rusty, in its first game in three weeks.

Michigan, meanwhile, looked lost and lifeless in a third straight loss.

Nakia Watson and Mason Stokke each scored two touchdowns in the first half, helping the Badgers build a big lead in a 49-11 rout of the Wolverines on Saturday night.

Wisconsin (2-0) returned to competition after canceling two games of its all-Big Ten schedule due to a COVID-19 breakout within the program and rolled past a hapless team.

“I’m really proud of the way that everyone kind of worked through what we’ve gone through,” coach Paul Chryst said.

The Wolverines (1-3) fell behind 28-0 at halftime, their largest deficit at home since the Big House opened in 1927, and finished with their most lopsided loss at home since a 1935 loss to Ohio State.

“We were thoroughly beaten in every phase,” coach Jim Harbaugh acknowledged after the latest loss dropped Michigan to its worst start since 1967. “We didn’t do anything well. We did not play good. We did not coach good.”

Early on, it appeared Michigan might put up a fight before getting knocked out in front of friends and family in its mostly empty stadium.

The Wolverines forced the Graham Mertz-led offense to punt after the game’s opening possession, only to give the ball back on the next snap when a dropped pass was picked off.

Wisconsin’s first two touchdowns — Watson’s 2-yard run and Mertz’s 1-yard pass to Stokke — were four plays after Joe Milton’s passes were intercepted. The running back and fullback scored their second touchdowns on runs in the second quarter, giving the Badgers a 28-0 lead that was large enough against an offensively challenged team.