Found November 09, 2012 on
Fox Sports Detroit:
Penn State Nittany Lions
Ohio State Buckeyes
Minnesota Golden Gophers
Brady Hoke always tell his players that every game is a championship game, but right now, he's not exaggerating. For the Wolverines to reach their ultimate goal -- the Big Ten Championship Game (televised by FOX) -- they know they have to win their final three regular-season games and hope someone beats Nebraska.
That's going to be tough -- Penn State is the toughest test left for the Cornhuskers -- but it won't matter if Michigan doesn't beat Northwestern and Iowa at home and then finishes the year with a win at Ohio State.
First up are the Wildcats, who still have designs of their own on the Legends Division title. Northwestern's chances are even more remote than Michigan's -- they need to win out while Nebraska would have to lose twice -- but they aren't about to give up.
NORTHWESTERN'S OFFENSE VS. MICHIGAN'S DEFENSE
This is going to be pretty simple. Northwestern is going to run, run and then they will run some more. They don't pass the ball well at the best of times, and they certainly won't be throwing much against Michigan's nation-best pass defense.
So you're going to see quarterback Kain Colter and tailback Venric Mark attacking Michigan with the read-option -- the same basic offense that the Wolverines use when Denard Robinson is healthy and Fitz Toussaint is playing well. Mark, also a dangerous kick returner, is already over 1,000 yards for the season. Colter had 166 yards and three touchdowns last week against Iowa.
They aren't likely to have that much success against the Wolverines, but they probably need the duo to combine for at least 150 yards and a couple touchdowns to have a chance. If Michigan is able to shut down the run or get out to an early lead, Northwestern would likely have to take Colter out of the game and bring in passing specialist Trevor Siemian.
Siemian won't lose a game -- he's thrown only one interception in 163 passes this season -- but he's not likely to lead much of a rally, either. The Wildcats don't have a single receiver averaging 30 yards a game or 13 yards a catch.
MICHIGAN'S OFFENSE VS. NORTHWESTERN'S DEFENSE
Want to know how this is going to go? Get Brady Hoke to tell you whether Denard Robinson or Devin Gardner is going to start at quarterback. Hoke isn't telling anyone if Robinson has recovered from the nerve damage to his passing elbow or if Gardner will be starting for the second week in a row.
As anyone who watched Michigan's win over Minnesota knows, the Wolverines offense will change drastically depending on who is at quarterback. If Robinson returns, the Wolverines will be back to the read-option that highlights his spectacular running skills while hiding his inability to pick up yards consistently through the air. Toussaint hasn't been much help at all this season, despite a 1,000-yard season a year ago. If Robinson is playing, Gardner goes back to wide receiver to provide a big, athletic threat.
If Gardner starts, everything changes. He'll be taking snaps under center and working more on play-action roll-out plays. He's still a dangerous running threat, even if he doesn't have Robinson's breakaway speed. Gardner has a more accurate arm than Robinson, especially after Gardner got warmed up against the Golden Gophers. There were still a few signs of rust, but by the end of the day, he was showing his ability to keep plays alive and hit receivers downfield. That's something that Michigan doesn't have with Robinson behind center.
Either quarterback would benefit greatly from improved play from Michigan's offensive line. Usually a strength, the Wolverines have struggled all season to get their running backs going, whether it's been Toussaint, Thomas Rawls or Justice Hayes.
Both the coaching staff and the offensive linemen themselves say that's due to poor blocking, and there were hints this week that a shuffle might not be far away. Even if that doesn't happen Saturday, it will have to take place soon for Michigan to have any chance of beating Ohio State in two weeks.
Michigan is a flawed team, but the one thing the Wolverines are very good at is stopping the run. That's going to take away most of Northwestern's offense, and the Wolverines should be able to move the ball against a mediocre Wildcat defense no matter which quarterback starts.
If Michigan can get out to an early lead and force Northwestern to pass, this could get ugly. Michigan wins 28-10.
BEST OF MAXIM
In just his first season, Brady Hoke turned a beleaguered Michigan program into a Sugar Bowl squad. The early success stemmed from key schematic adjustments which transformed the dynamic Denard Robinson and a spread-based attack. Hoke has proved doubters wrong and earned the respect of Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald, among others.
Entering the 10th game of the 2012 season it appears the Wolverines have a legitimate question mark regarding the quarterback position for the first time in three seasons. Uncertainty, yes. Controversy, ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!! If Denard Robinson is healthy he will, and should, be the starting quarterback against the Northwestern Wildcats. The problem is that, unlike last week...
Michigan QB Devin Gardner (12) about to score a first half touchdown on this 8 yard run. (Image courtesy of John T. Greilick / Detroit News )
The Michigan Wolverines escaped Ann Arbor today with a 38-31 overtime victory over the Northwestern Wildcats and in addition to keeping Brady Hoke’s undefeated home winning streak alive at 13 connective games they remain in the hunt for the...
Giving up 31 points in one game isn’t something that pleases Brady Hoke and the Michigan coaching staff. Northwestern was able to attack the Wolverines on the perimeter. But a great defensive call late solidified the 38-31 overtime win.
Michigan Football improved to 7-3 (5-1) with a dramatic 38-31 victory in OT on Saturday afternoon against Northwestern.
Brady Hoke asked the first question at his post game presser. “How many of you (reporters) had your stories written before the finish?” Most of the room raised their hands. For Hoke, these last second wins are now officially old hat. Walking back to...
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Roy Roundtree made Desmond Howard proud.
Roundtree, wearing Howard's No. 21 legend jersey, caught a 53-yard Hail Mary pass with 16 seconds left to set up a game-tying field goal, and Michigan went on to beat Northwestern 38-31 in overtime.
The victory keeps Michigan's chances of a Legends Division title alive. To make the Big Ten Championship Game (televised...
Michigan was down by three points to Northwestern with 18 seconds remaining in the game. Needing to get into field goal range, Devin Gardner found Roy Roundtree for the big gain, and setting U-M up for the game tying field goal.
Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke wouldn’t tip his hand as to who might get the start at quarterback Saturday against Northwestern. Whats the best-case scenario for the Wolverines?
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- Devin Gardner ran for a 1-yard touchdown in overtime and Michigan's defense responded with a stop, giving the Wolverines a wild 38-31 win over Northwestern on Saturday.
Check out the video. Michigan needed a miracle against Northwestern and they got it. Michigan Wolverines quarterback Devin Gardner hit wide receiver Roy Roundtree who juggled and caught a 53-yard pass with just eight seconds left in the game
24 Northwestern (7-2) AT Michigan (6-3) Time: 12:00 PM EDT | Spread: Michigan -9 The Pick: Northwestern wins, covers. Why?: Denard Robinson will either be ineffective or out of the game entirely with what seems to be a haunting injury. Devin Gardner was impressive last week, but he’s still largely unproven. To beat [...]
On a day when a trio of tackles were honored as legends, it was a receiver that made the biggest play. Roy Roundtree has become a big play legend in his own right while donning Desmond Howard’s legends jersey and has now been on the receiving end of two of the most improbable comebacks in Michigan history.
Michigan 38 – Northwestern 31 (OT)
Photo: Dustin Johnston
Elsewhere in the college basketball world there will be games at military bases and aircraft carriers but Michigan will open its season in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines host Slippery Rock, a school most associated with scoreboard updates at Michigan stadium, to begin the 2012-13 campaign. The Wolverines were nearly flawless in exhibition play and hope to carry...
No. 5 Michigan opens its season tomorrow against Slippery Rock. Coach John Beilein discussed The Rock and the Wolverines focus going into their first game of 2012-13. Beilein also discussed the lineup and rotations to start the season, Stauskas’ injury situation, Burke and Albrecht playing in the same back court, and more. ***Full Video of the Press conference included***
Three games remain in the regular season and Michigan must win all of them to stay in the Big Ten title hunt. And just like last week, the Wolverines might have to do it without Denard Robinson. All week, Brady Hoke has been coy about Denard’s status. When asked about Denard’s status on Thursday morning, Hoke said, “We’ve got a plan in place and we’ve been running through...