"Maybe I am not freaking out about this game like I should be. Of course, I have been wrong pretty much the entire year trying to read this team. They've lost the games they should have won and won some ones that could have gone the other way. That said, my heart says we win this one -- and like the White Sox did in the World Series, I shake the curse! Then again if we lose, you can blame it on me and I'll be convinced that something is deeply upsetting the football gods about my predictions. Anyway, on to the game. The night setting and playing this game on the road makes me think of that trip to Camp Randall, but again, I think this time is different. I think if Michigan is going to win, their fastest way to it is creativity on defense. On the option plays, they need to rotate responsibilities to prevent being predictable. They need late rotation in their secondary to disguise coverages, and they need to zone blitz some to mix it up in the underneath coverage. The pass defense has done pretty well all season and they need to have their best game yet. Some way or another the defense has to get pressure on Brett Basanez. Penn State was able to do this and the ‘Cats offense bogged down a bit when that happened. The other key is obviously slowing down Tyrell Sutton. This kid doesn't get arm tackled; Michigan has hit well all year long but they better have saved some because Sutton can punish defenders all game long. Watching him in high school and now in college it's almost as if he's immune to punishment because he plays with no fear whatsoever.
"On offense, Michigan needs to exploit this porous defense. Chad Henne should have absolutely all day to throw (Northwestern is averaging less than a sack per game) and he needs to make some things happen. Michigan needs to incorporate Mario Manningham more. He made a bad read on the seam post route last week but they are going to need to use their guns to stay on top of the score. I think Tim Massaquoi and Tyler Ecker could have good days as well. The backfield situation needs to play out, I think Mike Hart will play but the question is how effectively and for how long, etc.? If he's in Michigan State health, he could have a big day. If he's hobbled, he may be a liability and the young backs will need to pick up for him. Michigan needs to get the screen package going because they could have some success with it. It's obvious on tape this is an area Northwestern struggles in. I also expect Steve Breaston to have a potential big day on special teams. Before my final prediction let me give a tip of the cap to Randy Walker on an outstanding job coaching this season. He has injuries and other situations, his players have dropped like flies, but the team is having an incredible season. They could easily be 6-1 if they could have held against Penn State. He's done a great job with Basanez and with playing the freshman Sutton. The defense has been awful but this team has overcome it and Walker is making miles with inches."
Michael Taylor adds:
"You know, if Michigan scores 28 points each game, they'd have won them all. I think that's true this week as well. With Mike Hart struggling with two injuries now it'll be hard for Michigan to get to 28. They are going to have to score on big plays ... last week they didn't go over the top but this week I think they will have to get Manningham in there and go for it.
"It could be a wild one -- last year we couldn't stop them (the Wolverines won 42-20, but the Wildcats gained over 200 yards both running and passing) ... but on the other hand their defense is terrible."
Back to Turel:
"Now to the prediction ... as always with this season I can picture a late close game with one unit blundering so the other has to win it either on offense or defense, but this week something tells me the Wolverines will not be the ones to blow it. Something tells me this week I can pick Michigan and they will win (something that hasn't happened since EMU) ... so there you have it … call it the ‘something tells me' factor. Meechigan 34, Northwestern 31."
Turel's and MT's Final Words, Game Prediction
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