Michigan Football: Wolverines Will Punish Fighting Illini in Big House

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistOctober 11, 2012

CHAMPAIGN, IL - NOVEMBER 12: David Molk #50 of the Michigan Wolverines prepares to snap the ball against the Illinois Fighting Illini defense at Memorial Stadium on November 12, 2011 in Champaign, Illinois. Michigan defeated Illinois 31-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Brady Hoke has his Michigan Wolverines squad focused on the task at hand, taking care of business against the Illinois Fighting Illini on Saturday at Michigan Stadium and not looking ahead to next week's meeting with the Michigan State Spartans.

That's bad news for an Illinois team that has lost it's last three games by a combined score of 118-45.

While Michigan won last season's meeting, 31-14, Denard Robinson was a factor for all of the wrong reasons.

He completed 6-of-10 passes for only 92 yards and an interception, and while he scored two rushing touchdowns, he was limited to 30 yards rushing on 12 carries before leaving the game with a bruised wrist in the third quarter.

But Illinois' run defense isn't what it was last season, and Robinson will have ample opportunity to show the Fighting Illini what he's capable of on the ground.

Fitzgerald Toussaint ran for a career-best 192 yards on 27 carries against the Fighting Illini last season, and he figures to get plenty of touches again this week as Brady Hoke is committed to his junior halfback, telling reporters that his struggles against Purdue had more to do with Purdue than Toussaint's ability. (h/t MLive)

With Illinois' run defense allowing 11 touchdowns and more than 3.5 yards per carry on the ground in 2012, they have no answers for Michigan's running game.

Illinois' QB Nathan Scheelhaase has completed nearly 63 percent of his passes (54-of-86) for 533 yards over his past two-and-a-half games, but he's thrown four interceptions and only two touchdown passes.

He won't find things easy against a Michigan defense that ranks seventh against the pass, and while the Wolverines have only four interceptions on the season, they have the talent to force Scheelhaase into making poor decisions with the football, resulting in turnovers and quick three-and-outs.

Illinois isn't Michigan State, but they'll serve as a suitable tuneup and confidence builder for a Michigan squad looking to remain in contention for a Big Ten championship.