Led by cornerback James Whitley, Michigan's defense set up two field goals with interceptions, came up with a key safety and then turned back a final Syracuse drive as the sixth-ranked Wolverines outlasted Syracuse, 18-13, Saturday night.
The Orangemen (2-1) looked ready to steal a victory away from Michigan (3-0) as they drove the length of the field in the final three minutes. Syracuse made it to the Michigan 9-yard line, but Madei Williams' fourth-and-4 pass was beyond the reach of a diving Pat Woodcock and Michigan took over on downs.
"They had a lot of big plays on that last drive," said Michigan linebacker James Hall. "We just wanted to keep our composure, pull together and make a stand."
Jeff Del Verne's 31-yard field goal with 3:42 to play gave Michigan a five-point advantage and put Syracuse in a touchdown-or-nothing situation.
With the game tied at 13-13 late in the third quarter, the Wolverines defense chased Troy Nunes, Syracuse's redshirt freshman quarterback, into his own end zone.
Nunes, after dodging defenders and spinning away, tried a long pass but it fell yards away from the nearest Syracuse receiver and the officials flagged him for intentional grounding and a safety that put Michigan ahead, 15-13.
A blitzing Whitley added a crucial sack in the fourth quarter that ended a Syracuse drive that had pushed to the Wolverines' 30.