Who: Northwestern Wildcats (5-0;1-0) @ Michigan Wolverines (4-1;1-0)
Where: Michigan Stadium — Ann Arbor, Michigan
Kickoff: Saturday, October 10th at 3:30 PM ET
TV: Big Ten Network
Latest Line: Michigan by 7.5
Matchup: Two of the top 10 teams in Total Defense in the FBS square off on Saturday, and if you’re looking for a game where the entertainment level is high, you may want to look away.
Northwestern and Michigan are ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in Points Per Game Allowed after five weeks, and with two offenses that have not looked sharp so far this year, those rankings very well could remain in tact after this weekend.
The Michigan defense, led by LB Desmond Morgan, CB Jabrill Peppers and DE Chris Wormley, has looked fantastic all year, and is currently riding a two-game shutout streak into today’s contest.
Northwestern QB Clayton Thorson will have his hands full all day trying to avoid Michigan’s dominant pass rush. His two most reliable targets, WR Dan Vitale and WR Christian Jones, will need to have huge days for the Wildcats to have any chance.
Just as Northwestern’s offense looks to struggle, so does Michigan’s. With the availability of RB De’Veon Smith still up in the air, the Wolverines may have to rely more on QB Jake Rudock and backup RBs Ty Isaac and Drake Johnson. Nobody on the offensive side of the ball has shown as much consistent production as Smith this year, and without him, especially against this Wildcat defense, it may be a long day for this Michigan offense as well.
Prediction: There’s no doubt this is going to be a defensive battle. Neither QB is going to win this game single-handedly, and especially if Michigan is without Smith, neither offense has one player who can take over the game offensively. With that being the case, I trust the Wolverines’ defense more to keep the Wildcats out of the endzone, which may end up being the difference in this game.
Michigan 13, Northwestern 6