Last weekend Michigan passed their test with flying colors. However, calling it a test wouldn’t do justice to the environment. It wasn’t as much a game, as it was an exhibition. Marquise Gray was out, it was a home game, and Minnesota had no player that could match-up at any position. It was that type of game where the Wolverines were able to name a number, and score however many points they decided. Today the Wolverines find themselves in a much different situation. The opposition, Northwestern, finally got their quarterback back last week, Dan Persa, and it is a road game.
It will be interesting to see if Michigan’s #2 scoring defense in the nation will be paying attention to any of the peripherals, or if they will just play the same winning football that they have the previous five weeks. Dan Persa isn’t the most talented player in the world, but he is a gritty veteran who I would consider to be a gamer. He is a probably a Mike Kafka clone, mobile but not a burner, and accurate but not the strongest arm in the world. His ability to hold onto the ball will be paramount this evening (7:00 pm start), as Michigan has made a habit of forcing turnovers. A road crowd may be able to neutralize some of the Michigan opportunism, but there are expected to be at least as many Michigan fans as Northwestern one’s.
Michigan has been getting to the quarterback this season, which was something they were unable to do in their 3-3-5 scheme last year. Persa must make the right play and throw the ball away, or take a sack in stead of holding onto the ball too long and forcing an errant pass. Unfortunately for Northwestern, they have to play defense too. Michigan nearly put up 600 total yards last week, and their high-octane offense shows no signs of slowing down. In fact they are speeding up; as different players are getting involved to help lead Michigan to Victory. Fitzgerald Toussaint ran for 108 yards last week, Thomas Rawls had 73, and even backup quarterback Devin Gardner got involved with 39 yards on 6 attempts.
I have Michigan winning on the road for the first time this season: 26-14. I think it will be close until the 4th quarter and Michigan will do enough to hold on.