Make no bones about it. The Michigan Wolverines must win today’s matchup against Northwestern in a big way.
The Michigan Wolverines arrived in Evanston, Illinois yesterday afternoon, in preparation for today’s matchup against the Northwestern Wildcats. Although the Wolverines enter this game as heavy favorites (-28) on a five-game win streak (2011-2015), they cannot overlook their opponents.
Quality teams do three things:
- They win the close games.
- They win the games they aren’t supposed to win.
- Win the blowouts in a lopsided way.
Fueled by their one-score loss to Notre Dame, Michigan has been on a gridiron tear for the past few weeks. They have blown out lackluster squads from Western Michigan, SMU and Nebraska by a combined score of 150-33.
The Wolverine defensive unit ranks 3rd in the nation on pass defense and total defensive ranking. They also hold down 58th place in first down defense and rank 85th in red zone defense. Low opponent scores and rough first down and red zone statistics mean that Michigan has effectively adopted a “bend but not break” strategy. Look for them to shore up those statistics against Northwestern.
I fully expect Don Brown’s boys to blow up Northwestern’s game plan early and continuously. The defensive front, lead by Rashan Gary will break Clayton Thorson’s will to win with numerous quarterback hits and sacks.
Shea Patterson, Karan Higdon and Co. face a pedestrian Wildcats defensive unit. Northwestern, 75th in total defense, allows an average of 380 yards per game. Purdue, Duke and Akron are the three powerhouses that have run over the Wildcats defensive squad. Expect Shea Patterson to link up with Donovan Peoples-Jones heavily in the first half.
Michigan will head into halftime with a multi-touchdown lead before asking Karan Higdon to burn clock in the second half. Dylan McCaffrey will make another 4th quarter appearance and Michigan will comfortably roll into Week 6 with a 4-1 record.