Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 11/9/12
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. PREDICTION 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.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Goran Dragic gets eight stitches on mouth, returns to game

Hugh Freeze on Tunsil situation: 'I know nothing'

Did father's offensive Twitter account affect Connor Cook's draft stock?

Jared Goff might be only rookie quarterback to start Week 1

White Sox send David Ortiz off with box of cigars


49ers players laud Chip Kelly’s ‘genius’ offense

Cubs celebrate Cinco De Mayo with clubhouse mariachi band

Why would the Philadelphia Eagles keep Sam Bradford?

Steve Kerr: Steph Curry probably out for Game 3 against Blazers

Tyronn Lue hits back at Charles Barkley over comments

Redskins' lock up TE Reed for five-years and $50 million

WATCH: Jim Harbaugh dabs after hitting softball homer off a tee

Patriots rookie QB Jacoby Brissett to negotiate contract himself

Gabrielle Union continues to question referees

Marc-Andre Fleury supportive of Matt Murray starting

5-star QB Tate Martell posts recruiting update

WATCH: Kyle Lowry ignores security guard's fist bump attempt

Colorado Senate kills bill to make 'Mile High' legal name of Broncos stadium

Recruit says he decommitted from Ohio State because Urban Meyer did not recognize him

Report: Joe Paterno first heard of Sandusky's child abuse in 1976

Seahawks officially place Marshawn Lynch on retired list

Ezekiel Eliiott's Cowboys' jersey is the best-selling rookie jersey

Before becoming world champ Canelo Alvarez sold Popsicles

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

How are the Warriors winning without Stephen Curry?

QUIZ: Name every player in MLB to pitch a perfect game

Dangerous hits spotlighted in Round 2 of the NHL playoffs

QUIZ: Name every Triple A Minor League Baseball team

Most exciting games of the 2016 NBA playoffs so far

Five bizarre moments in Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs

How the Sharks have 'weathered the storm' against the Predators

Okay, who stole the Kansas City Royals player off that billboard?

Eight players to watch in Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs

A Round-By-Round Look At the NFL Draft

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker