FACTS & STATS: Site: Ryan Field (47,330) — Evanston, Illinois.
Television: ESPN2. Home Record: UM 4-2, NU 2-3. Away Record: UM 0-3, NU 1-2.
Neutral Record: UM 0-0, NU 0-0. Conference Record: UM 2-3, NU 2-3. Series
Record: Michigan leads, 55-15-2.
GAME NOTES: The Michigan Wolverines head to Ryan Field to take on the fading
Northwestern Wildcats in Big Ten Conference play.
Michigan is coming off last Saturday’s 34-10 rout over Indiana, the team’s
second win in a span of three games. For all of the trials and tribulations
the Wolverines have endured so far this season, they can still become bowl
eligible by winning two of their final three games (Maryland, at Ohio State).
However, they are winless in three tries on the road.
Meanwhile, Northwestern has dropped three straight since a three-game win
streak, which included an upset over then No. 17 Wisconsin. The Wildcats
traveled to Iowa last weekend and were turned away with a lopsided, 48-7
defeat. They’ll step out of conference play next week to face Notre Dame
before wrapping up their schedule against Purdue and Illinois.
Michigan has won eight of the last nine meetings, and leads the all-time
series with Northwestern, 55-15-2.
Prior to their 34-point outburst against Indiana, the Wolverines had been held
below 20 points in four of their previous five games and averaged just 15.4
ppg during that span. Drake Johnson had a breakout game with a game-high 122
yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries (7.6 ypg). The offense has sorely
needed someone to step up in the running game since leading rusher Derrick
Green (78.5 ypg) was lost for the season with a broken clavicle a month ago.
Amara Darboh finished with 107 yards and a score on nine catches, while Devin
Gardner completed 22-of-29 pass attempts for 220 yards with two TDs and one
interception in the victory.
Michigan’s defense turned in a strong performance against the Hoosiers,
holding the nation’s eighth-best rushing attack 120 yards below its season
average. Indiana’s Tevin Coleman, the nation’s leading rusher with 170 ypg
entering the contest, finished with 108 hard-fought yards on 27 carries (4.0
ypg), and did not reach the end zone. The Wolverines, who have yielded only
3.15 ypc and seven rushing TDs on the season to rank among the national
leaders, also allowed only 24 passing yards for the game. Linebacker Jake Ryan
continued his stellar senior campaign as he notched a team-high 11 tackles
(2.5 TFL) and forced a pair fumbles.
Northwestern has averaged just under 14 points over its last three games, all
losses. On the season, the Wildcats are 113th in the nation in scoring offense
(19.1 ppg) and 114th in total offense (330.0 ypg). They have not eclipsed 30
points in a game this season. It was more of the same last week against Iowa,
as NU’s offense managed only 13 first downs and 180 yards for the game. Trevor
Siemian completed just 8-of-18 passes for 68 yards and was sacked five times.
If there was a bright spot, it was the play of true freshman running back
Justin Jackson, who came up four yards shy of his fourth straight 100-yard
rushing performance. Jackson carried 24 times (4.0 ypc) in his first career
While Northwestern’s offense was busy punting the ball away on each of its
first four drives, Iowa scored three touchdowns and a field goal for a quick
24-0 lead, and the Wildcats were never able to recover. The Hawkeyes went on
to rack up 24 first downs and 483 yards from scrimmage, nearly tripling NU in
total offense. Wildcats safety Traveon Henry led the way with a career-high 14
tackles, although Hawkeyes ball-carriers were regularly getting to the second
level of the defense untouched. Linebacker Chi Chi Ariguzo finished with 10
tackles and a forced fumble.
It has been a very trying season in Evanston, but the Wildcats can still
qualify for a bowl with wins in three of their final four games. Notre Dame is
the only one of those four remaining opponents that currently has a winning
record. Keep in mind, the Wolverines are also fighting for a postseason berth
and won’t just lay down, although they have struggled on the road.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northwestern 30, Michigan 20