Northwestern (7-2) at Michigan (6-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, Nov. 10, 12 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Michigan Stadium (109,901) -- Ann Arbor, Michigan. Television: ESPN. Home Record: Northwestern 5-1, Michigan 4-0. Away Record: Northwestern 2-1, Michigan 2-2. Neutral Record: Northwestern 0-0, Michigan 0-1. Conference Record: Northwestern 3-2, Michigan 4-1. Series Record: Michigan leads, 53-15-2.
GAME NOTES: The Northwestern Wildcats are set to invade The Big House in Ann Arbor to take on the Michigan Wolverines in a key Big Ten Conference matchup.
After jumping out to a 5-0 start, Northwestern has split its last four contests. The Wildcats are coming off a bye, and they notched a 28-17 win over Iowa in their Homecoming tilt two weekends ago. They'll wrap up their road schedule at Michigan State next weekend before returning home to host Illinois the following week in the regular-season finale.
Michigan is tied with Nebraska atop the league's Legends Division standings, although the Cornhuskers own the tie-breaker by virtue of their head-to-head victory earlier this season. The Wolverines have won four of their last five outings, including a 35-13 triumph at Minnesota last weekend. They have won 12 straight at home, as their last lost at Michigan Stadium came against Ohio State on Nov. 27, 2010.
UM holds a commanding 53-15-2 edge in the all-time series with NU. The Wolverines claimed a 42-24 victory last October in Evanston.
The Wildcats don't pass the ball a whole lot (109th-ranked passing offense), but they rank third in the conference and 13th nationally in rushing offense, averaging 237.6 yards per game on the ground. Venrik Mark is the Big Ten's second-leading rusher with an average of 119.7 rushing yards. He has run for at least 77 yards in ever game this season, including six 100-yard games. What makes Northwestern even tougher to defend is the athletic ability of quarterback Kain Colter, who is averaging a healthy 69.1 rushing yards to go along with 11 touchdowns on the ground. Against Iowa two weeks ago, Colter ran for a career-high 166 yards and accounted for four TDs (three rushing, one passing). Mark also had a big day, rushing for 162 yards to go over 1,000 for the season, the first Wildcat to do so since Tyrell Sutton in 2006.
Northwestern's defense held Iowa off the scoreboard until the final minute of the third quarter. The Hawkeyes made only two trips inside the red zone despite winning the time-of-possession battle by nine minutes. Wildcats senior linebacker David Nwabuisi recorded 18 total tackles and 11 solo, both personal-bests. Damien Proby chipped in with 12 stops. On the season, Northwestern ranks 10th in the Big Ten in total defense (393.8 ypg allowed), although two of its last three opponents have failed to eclipse 20 points. Proby is among the conference leaders with 86 tackles, while Nwabuisi is right behind him with 75, including 6.5 for loss. Defensive end Tyler Scott leads the Big Ten with 7.0 sacks.
Like their counterpart, the Wolverines also boast a dynamic dual-threat quarterback in Denard Robinson. With his next passing TD, Robinson will become the first player in Big Ten history to post 50 passing TDs and 40 rushing TDs. However, he missed last week's game with an elbow injury and is questionable to return this weekend. Fortunately for the Maize and Blue, junior backup Devin Gardner stepped in against Minnesota and threw for two touchdowns while running for another. Gardner completed 12-of-18 passes for 234 yards in a tough road environment, helping UM earn bowl eligibility. Fitzgerald Toussaint added 70 rushing yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.
For the sixth time this season, Michigan held an opponent to 13 points or less against Minnesota. Senior linebacker Kenny Demens headlined that effort with 10 tackles, while Jake Ryan added nine stops, including three for loss. On the season, Michigan leads the nation in pass defense (145.4 ypg) and ranks seventh in total defense (288.7 ypg). In fact, the Wolverines have not allowed 200 passing yards in a single game this season. The team has allowed just 12.1 points per game over its last seven contests, while allowing only six TDs over that span. Only Nebraska managed to score more than 13 points during the stretch, as Big Ten opponents are scoring just 11.8 ppg against the Wolverines.
Northwestern has not beaten Michigan since 2008, and that victory came in Ann Arbor. Coming off a bye and with Robinson potentially unavailable, the Wildcats certainly have a shot to end their series skid this time around.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northwestern 17, Michigan 14
11/07 11:03:08 ET