Illinois-Michigan Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated October 09, 2012
Michigan is back in the poll, climbing to No. 25 after an impressive win over Purdue, and heads into Saturday's game favored to beat Illinois by more than two touchdowns. The Wolverines (3-2, 1-0 Big Ten) in theory could be looking ahead to next week's game against rival Michigan State. "I don't think we'll have any problems,'' coach Brady Hoke said sternly Monday. Hoke seems to deliver a message each week that keeps his players thinking and talking about the next game - not the big picture. "I'm going to tell you the exact same thing coach Hoke tell us every day, `Every week is a championship week,''' defensive tackle Will Campbell said. "Every week we're going to be playing for a Big Ten championship.'' The Wolverines are coming off a 44-13 victory against the Boilermakers and have steadily improved since opening with a lopsided loss to Alabama. Illinois (2-4, 0-2) has lost three straight games by a combined score of 118-45 and four games this year by an average of 26 points. The Wolverines insist they're taking the Illini seriously because they're one of the teams to beat in their quest to end a conference championship drought that dates to 2004. "If you overlook any game in the Big Ten, you're going to lose that game,'' offensive tackle Taylor Lewan said. If Michigan can't figure out a way to run the ball without Denard Robinson doing it, it might have a hard time ending a four-game losing streak to the Spartans on Oct. 20 at the Big House. On nearly 20 carries in the last two losses to Michigan State, Robinson is averaging just 3.3 yards per rushing attempt for 128 yards combined. Robinson, as he often has when the Wolverines win, was spectacular on the ground at Purdue. The speedy senior ran for 235 yards at Purdue and became the Big Ten's all-time leading rushing quarterback with 3,905 yards. He was named the conference's co-player of the week on offense for a ninth time, tying the record total set by Wisconsin running back Ron Dayne. There were plenty of records set the last time the Illini visited the Big House. Robinson threw for 305 yards and three touchdowns before leaving with an injury after three quarters in Michigan's 67-65, three-overtime win over Illinois on Nov. 6, 2010 - the highest-scoring game in Big Ten history. Though the Wolverines are coming off another excellent offensive performance, running back Fitzgerald Toussaint was held to 19 yards rushing on 17 carries in the win at Purdue. He has just 169 yards rushing - 3.2 yards per carry - in four games this year after averaging 5.6 yards per attempt for a total of 1,091 yards last season. Is Hoke concerned with the lack of production the team is getting from its running backs? "I would be lying if I said I wasn't,'' he acknowledged. Thomas Rawls has made the most of limited opportunities. Rawls ran for 33 yards on just four carries against Purdue and is averaging 5-plus yards on 16 attempts that have been spread sparingly out over three games. After Hoke vowed that he's going to stick with Toussaint at tailback, the second-year coach was asked if he thought about playing Rawls earlier in games? "No, not really,'' Hoke said. Hoke explained that Toussaint hasn't proven that he can't do the job, saying he simply ran against a defense that was designed to stop him last Saturday. "A year ago, I think Fitz ran for 170 yards against Purdue - they weren't going to let him did that,'' Hoke said. "They were very concerned with taking that part of our offense away. Denard rushed for 235, so something has got to give.''
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
The Best Names in College Football for 2016
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Dwyane Wade’s cousin shot and killed in Chicago

NFL tries to reduce kick returns, promptly causes more kick returns

San Francisco Giants inching closer to a record they really don’t want

Clint Dempsey undergoing testing for irregular heartbeat

Troubling details emerge from Jeremy Jeffress' DWI arrest

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Chargers would welcome Joey Bosa if he signed contract

Falcons rookie Keanu Neal needs surgery on knee

Jerry Jones unhappy with Ezekiel Elliott's dispensary visit

Texas Tech using fake Twitter accounts to track players

Nike creates custom Air Jordan shoes in tribute to Craig Sager

Browns wanted ‘second-round pick and then some’ for Gordon

Heading into the homestretch: 2016 ROY favorites

Premier League notebook: The love affair at Man U

One Gotta Go: NFL legends talking comedians is no joke

It's all about timing: The evolution of the clock in sports

Predicting the unpredictable: Your MTV VMAs rundown

10 great moments in the career of Roberto Duran

Marshall’s first impression of Fitzpatrick: ‘He was terrible’

One Gotta Go: NFL legends bring the hate for fast food

What you need to know about the Champions League draw

Six worst quarterback situations in the NFL

Can the San Francisco Giants bust their teamwide slump?

A look at 2016 college football conference changes

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.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Premier League notebook: The love affair at Man U

Heading into the homestretch: 2016 ROY favorites

One Gotta Go: NFL legends talking comedians is no joke

It's all about timing: The evolution of the clock in sports

Predicting the unpredictable: Your MTV VMAs rundown

10 great moments in the career of Roberto Duran

The 20 best boxing movies of all time

One Gotta Go: NFL legends bring the hate for fast food

What you need to know about the Champions League draw

Can the San Francisco Giants bust their teamwide slump?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker