By: Aidan Champion
No. 6 Michigan is well rested for its final test before it travels to East Lansing for what is expected to be an epic showdown with in-state rival No. 9 Michigan State.
The Wolverines have dominated throughout their road to six wins thus far. Their win over Nebraska was certainly closer than what was expected, but they did what good teams do, and that was find a way to win despite a poor performance.
Michigan ranks at No. 7 in the nation in rushing offense with 246.5 per game. Defensively, they’re a top-25 team in passing yards allowed. The numbers don’t do this Michigan team, justice, though, as it’s clear that Jim Harbaugh’s squad can excel in any area of the field on any given day.
While many might count Northwestern as just another block in the road, it would be unwise to take this team lightly, despite its tremendous drop off from last season.
The Wildcats come off a surprising sound victory over Rutgers, in which they held the Scarlet Knights offense to just seven points. Rutgers did have 11 penalties, though, which surely made a difference in its attempt to gain momentum.
Two weeks prior, Northwestern was blown out 56-7 against Nebraska, who currently ranks last in the Big Ten West.
Michigan’s rushing defense will have to come ready to play on Saturday, as Northwestern’s biggest offensive threat in running back Evan Hull is averaging 93.67 rushing yards per game.
As far as offense goes, there simply just doesn’t seem to be anything major that would restrict the Wolverines from marching the field in Saturday’s contest. Michigan’s offense is peaking at just the right time. After questions surrounding the Wolverines’ ability to rely on competing in the air were held against the team in its first few weeks, quarterback Cade McNamara put on dominant passing displays in two-straight games.
McNamara’s last outing against Nebraska was his best of the season, as he threw for 255 yards on 22 completions.
Should Michigan have just an average performance, there’s no reason it shouldn’t win by more than a touchdown against a very inferior opponent.
But Northwestern will be coming in high on meeting the .500 mark, and a win against a top-10 opponent on the road would be the highlight of its season. Expect the Wildcats to bring everything they’ve got on Saturday.
This game is an opportunity for Michigan to showcase its best performance yet before it heads to Spartan Stadium. The Wolverines had a week off to regather and rest up before they begin the second half of their season.
A mere win on Saturday won’t be enough in the grand scheme of things. Momentum will be everything going into the matchup against MSU, and a strong outing on both sides of the ball would give the Wolverines a huge edge before Halloween Weekend.
Michigan and Northwestern face off in Ann Arbor at noon on Saturday in the battle for the George Jewett Trophy.
Written by: Aidan Champion
Aidan is an MSU Journalism Student and Spartan Football writer for: impact89fm.org
Photo Courtesy of InsideNU.com