Wolverine Wednesday: Northwestern Week

Michigan Wolverines 6-3 (2-3 Big Ten) vs. Northwestern Wildcats 4-5 (0-5 Big Ten)


Michigan Last Week: Michigan lost their second ball game in a row, and third of the year, last week against Nebraska. The Wolverines also ended the day with negative rushing yards for the second consecutive week.  Cornhuskers running back Ameer Abdullah scored the go-ahead touchdown with 2:03 left to play. The following possession, Michigan drove the ball to their 42 yard-line, but turned the ball over on a failed fourth down attempt. Saturday was Michigan head coach Brady Hoke’s first loss at the Big House of his career.


Northwestern Last Week: The Wildcats had a bye last week. Northwestern is coming off five consecutive Big Ten loses.


Michigan Team Leaders:

Passing- Devin Gardner 139/229, 2,185 yards, 14 touchdowns

Rushing- Fitzgerald Toussaint 172 carries, 601 yards, 3.5 average, 11 touchdowns

Receiving- Jeremy Gallon 55 receptions, 947 yards, 17.2 average, 7 touchdowns


Northwestern Team Leaders:

Passing- Trevor Siemian 108/181, 1,349 yards, 7 touchdowns

Rushing- Treyvon Green 94 carries, 612 yards, 6.5 average, 8 touchdowns

Receiving-Tony Jones 38 receptions, 492 yards, 12.9 average, 4 touchdowns


Michigan National Rankings:

Passing Yards-51st 250.0

Rushing Yards-97th 135.3

Points For-32nd 35.1

Points Against-61st 25.9


Northwestern National Rankings:

Passing Yards-82nd 210.4

Rushing Yards-47th 188.9

Points For-74th 28.0

Points Against-62nd 26.0


The Matchup:

Michigan’s hopes of a Big Ten title have dwindled out. The only thing that the Wolverines have left to play for is pride and their seniors. If Michigan can win out, they can still salvage a decent bowl game. Not the bowl game that Michigan would have hoped for, or a bowl game to Michigan’s standards, but a decent bowl nevertheless.

Northwestern is a very winnable game for Michigan. The Wildcats have not won a Big Ten game all season and are dead last in the Big Ten Legends division.

Defensively, Michigan matches up well against Northwestern. A majority of the Wildcats’ offense comes from their ability to run the football. Dual threat quarterback Kain Colter presents an option threat in the running game. Colter splits time with quarterback Trevon Siemian. Although Michigan has been able to stop the run successfully this season, they have not faced a quarterback as mobile as Colter. The Wolverines have struggled with scrambling quarterbacks in the past, but have shown the ability to maintain rush lanes this season. Both quarterbacks turn the ball over a fair amount, Siemian especially likes to force balls over the middle. Michigan’s secondary has increased their interceptions and productivity as the year has gone on, this week should be no different.

The rushing game has been the downfall of Michigan’s offense thus far this season. The Wolverines now have rushed for negative net rushing yardage in back-to-back weeks. In an attempt to combat the rushing issue, freshman running back Derrick Green was featured more last week against Nebraska. He finished with a team high 11 rushing yards on eight carries. The Wolverines did not rush for a single first down.  In combination with a horrible rushing game, Michigan’s offensive linemen gave up seven sacks for the second straight week. Clearly, something needs to be done schematically or with personnel up front. I would look for Michigan to incorporate more quick passes and read option plays. It may be time for Offensive Coordinator Al Borges to accept that the power rushing game is not going to work this season and to fall back to the spread look that Michigan used last year.


Matt Moore contributes writings about the NFL Draft and Michigan Football for ProFootballCentral. Follow Matt on Twitter @Matt23Moore

photo via: Maizenbrew.com