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Michigan Football: Defense Will Key Wolverines' Run to Big Ten Title Game

ANN ARBOR, MI - OCTOBER 20: Royce Jenkins-Jones #52, Kenny Demens #25 and Dennis Norfeet #26 of the Michigan Wolverines celebrate a win over the Michigan State Spartans at Michigan Stadium on October 20, 2012 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Wolverines defeated the Spartans 12-10.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images
Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IOctober 23, 2012

Winning a football game is a walk in the park when your defense is allowing less than eight points per game. 

For the Michigan Wolverines, a newfound scoring defense will key them all the way to the Big Ten conference championship game this December. 

Brady Hoke's defensive unit began the season on shaky ground, surrendering 41 points to Alabama and then 25 to Air Force one week later. Since September 8, though, none of Michigan's opponents have scored more than 13 points over the course of a game.

Greg Mattison's defense has found its groove at the perfect time.

Through the Wolverines first three Big Ten games this fall, they have allowed just 23 total points. That equates to just under 7.7 points per game allowed over that time. For the season, Michigan's scoring defense ranks 16th. But, over the last month, it has been arguably the best in college football.

Not even Alabama's defense has been as dominant as Michigan's in the month of October. Granted, the Wolverines have taken on some watered-down competition, but they've still managed to get it done in impressive fashion.

Michigan has five games left on the schedule this season and will need to win each one to ensure that it earns a trip to the conference title game at season's end. 

By far the toughest of the Wolverines' final five matchups is the first one, at Nebraska. The Cornhuskers boast the No. 6 rushing attack in the nation and the No. 12 scoring offense, so we will witness just how stout Michigan's defense is this weekend in Lincoln. 

A strong defensive performance on the road, however, would have Michigan 4-0 in the Big Ten Legends division and two games up on Nebraska and Northwestern.

With Michigan's offense struggling for the first time in a long time this season, ranking just 54th in scoring, 17th in rushing and 109th in passing offense, it's up to Mattison's defense to carry the Wolverines to their first Big Ten championship since they won in 2004 under Lloyd Carr.

At the moment, there's no reason to doubt that the defense will get it done.


Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter for more College Football conversation. 

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