#13 Northwestern (5-0, 1-0) at #18 Michigan (4-1, 1-0)
When: Saturday, October 10th, 2015
Where: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
Time: 3:30 ET
TV: Big Ten Network Radio: XM 84
The 13th ranked Northwestern Wildcats enter this week’s game in Ann Arbor, Michigan looking for their first 6-0 start since 1962. The Wildcats have played outstanding defense this year limiting their opponents to just 7 points a game – the Nation’s best. Northwestern has held four opponents to 10 points or fewer this season and is 5th nationally in total defense, giving up just 247.4 yards per game. Linebacker Anthony Walker, who leads the team with 44 tackles, has recorded 8.5 tackles for loss and also returned a fumble for a touchdown to put the game out of reach in a win over Minnesota last week. Offensively, they’re doing just enough to win, but need to get much better if they want to compete for a Big Ten title. Their passing game, led by quarterback Clayton Thorson is ranked 119th out of 128 schools. Running back Justin Jackson, however, leads the 14th best rushing attack in the nation with 636 rushing, but only has 1 touchdown. Northwestern has not beaten Michigan in 7 years, but took them to overtime in two of the last three seasons.
Michigan’s defense can not be overlooked as well. They are coming off back-to-back shutouts for the first time since 2000 with wins over BYU and Maryland. Statistically, the rank 2nd in total defense (184 yards/game), 3rd against the pass (112.2), 4th against the run (71.8), and 2nd in points allowed (7.6). Coach Jim Harbaugh seems to have this program going in the right direction since the opening night loss in Utah. Looking back on that loss, Utah is undefeated and ranked in the top 10. De’Veon Smith, who leads the Wolverines with 331 rushing yards rushing and 5 total touchdowns, missed the win over Maryland with a foot injury but is expected to play on Saturday. Senior quarterback Jake Rudock continued his struggles last week with 16-of-32 passing for 180 yards and threw his 6th interception of the season. Wolverines DT Maurice Hurst has recorded a sack in each of his last three games.
This should be a fun defensive game to watch as the total is set at 34.5 – one of the lowest totals I’ve seen in a College game in some time. Ten points is a lot to lay against a good defense. I have to take Northwestern in this one as one of my top plays of the week.
Pick: Northwestern +10