Michigan-Northwestern Preview

By CHRIS ZADOROZNY, Sports Editor

Denard Robinson or Devin Gardner? Which player will quarterback the Michigan Wolverines offense on Saturday? It is not known, as head coach Brady Hoke avoided the question all week long.

Hoke knew that Robinson wouldn’t play against Minnesota last Friday. Will the same happen again? Will Robinson be healthy enough to start, let alone play?

We will know only by gametime. The real talk of this game will be whoever wins, is pushing Nebraska for the Legends Division lead. Northwestern is ranked 24, while Michigan is unranked.

Gardner proved himself against Minnesota, and although they proved to be a decent team, no matter who you play, you must play well. Gardner did just that.

This game is crucial in the final few games of the season for both teams. One team will win, and become closer to the goal of the B1G 10 Championship. The other, will fall and presumably get a lower named bowl, and not gain the goal of winning the B1G 10.

Michigan beat Michigan State, can they beat Northwestern?

This is more than just Denard vs. Devin. This is for everything. This is for the Legends Division (or so both teams hope). This is for the B1G 10.

Let’s break this down. The game starts at 12:00pm. The time for the final three games of the year for Michigan. Not the most ideal time, but it’s what they were stuck with. How will they fare against the Wildcats?

No matter who starts at quarterback for Michigan, it’s looking like they have the edge. Robinson is huge in the ground game. He can use his speed to get through the Wildcat defense. Gardner has the advantage in the air.

Kain Colter, the starter for the Wildcat offense, will look to find his receivers and use his big running back, Venric Mark, to find the end zone.

On the year, Mark has nine touchdowns on 166 carries and over 1,000 yards. That’s more than Robinson. Shocked? Yea, me too.

Luckily, one good thing for the Michigan defense is they only allow an average of 13.8 points per game. The rushing game for the Wolverines is increasingly getting better with each week. They average 200+ yards per game, and with Rawls and Toussaint both torching the Golden Gopher defense last week, expect a little bit of the same again.

The Wildcats average 30.4 points per game, so the offense will look to score early and often. Jake Ryan leads the Michigan defense and his presence will hinder on whether or not Colter will actually be productive.

Michigan is projected as a 9.5 point favorite, but don’t be surprised if it’s a little closer or a little higher. It could go either way honestly. Defense wins championships, and the Michigan defense is much better than the Wildcat defense.

Michigan should be able to win this game, and close the gap against Nebraska, who is in a must win game in Happy Valley. Expect a bit of a blowout too.

Prediction: Michigan 42, Northwestern 21

To read the original post that appeared online only in The Michigan Journal, on Saturday, November 17, 2012, go to www.michiganjournal.org

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