In a battle of shaky Big Ten teams, both the Michigan Wolverines and Northwestern Wildcats will look to get back on track when the former travels to Ryan Field on Saturday.
Michigan has lost two straight, first at the hands of then-No. 22 Michigan State and then to Nebraska. Remember, this is the same Wolverines team that was nearly upset by Akron and Connecticut in September (two teams currently with three wins between them).
Northwestern is a loser of five straight, with its only wins from early in the season coming against three teams with a combined seven wins. (The fourth doesn't count—Maine of the CAA has nine wins.)
Will Michigan win, with a big showdown against No. 3 Ohio State at the end of the month? Or will Northwestern finally get its first conference win of the year?
Here's a look at everything fans need to know.
When: Saturday, Nov. 16 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Ryan Field, Evanston, Ill.
Television: Big Ten Network
Live Stream: ESPN3
Betting Lines (via Vegas Insider)
- Over/Under: 52.5
- Spread: Northwestern (-3)
Spartans Injury Report (via USA Today)
|Wolverines Injury Report|
|Russell Bellomy||QB||08/30/2013||will miss the entire season||out||knee|
|Joey Burzynski||G||10/21/2013||will miss the remainder of the season||out||knee|
|Amara Darboh||WR||08/21/2013||will miss the entire season||out||foot|
|Will Hagerup||P||08/30/2013||will miss the entire season||suspended||disciplinary|
|Drake Johnson||RB||09/02/2013||will miss the remainder of the season||out||knee|
|Ondre Pipkins||DT||10/06/2013||will miss the remainder of the season||out||knee|
|Wyatt Shallman||FB||11/10/2013||is questionable for Saturday's game against Northwestern||questionable||undisclosed|
|Tom Strobel||DE||11/10/2013||is questionable for Saturday's game against Northwestern||questionable||undisclosed|
Wildcats Injury Report (via USA Today)
|Wildcats Injury Report|
|Stephen Buckley||RB||11/02/2013||is out indefinitely||out||knee|
|Collin Ellis||LB||11/11/2013||is questionable for Saturday's game against Michigan||questionable||leg|
|Will Hampton||DT||11/11/2013||is questionable for Saturday's game against Michigan||questionable||undisclosed|
|Daniel Jones||CB||09/03/2013||will miss the remainder of the season||out||knee|
|Tony Jones||WR||11/11/2013||is questionable for Saturday's game against Michigan||questionable||lower body|
|Jack Konopka||T||11/11/2013||is questionable for Saturday's game against Michigan||questionable||undisclosed|
|Warren Long||RB||11/11/2013||is questionable for Saturday's game against Michigan||questionable||undisclosed|
|Dean Lowry||DE||11/11/2013||is questionable for Saturday's game against Michigan||questionable||lower body|
|Venric Mark||RB||11/11/2013||will miss the remainder of the season||out||ankle|
|Sean McEvilly||DT||11/11/2013||is questionable for Saturday's game against Michigan||questionable||lower body|
|Jaylen Prater||LB||11/11/2013||is questionable for Saturday's game against Michigan||questionable||undisclosed|
|Mark Szott||TE||11/11/2013||is questionable for Saturday's game against Michigan||questionable||undisclosed|
|Mike Trumpy||RB||11/11/2013||is questionable for Saturday's game against Michigan||questionable||undisclosed|
|Nick VanHoose||CB||11/11/2013||is questionable for Saturday's game against Michigan||questionable||head|
Can Michigan Run the Ball?
In recent weeks, Michigan has been anything but productive on the ground.
Against the Spartans, the Wolverines finished the game with minus-48 rushing yards. The contest last week against Nebraska was an improvement, as the Wolverines managed minus-21 on the ground.
Of course, these numbers are inflated by the hits Devin Gardner continues to take. He's completing over 60 percent of his passes but has thrown 14 touchdowns to 15 interceptions.
Starting back Fitzgerald Toussaint, the man mostly responsible for getting the ground attack going, has been a disappointment in recent weeks:
|Fitzgerald Toussaint Last Two Games|
|@ Michigan State||8||20||2.5||9||0||1||2|
It gets worse. Northwestern only allows just over 168 rushing yards per game. While the Wildcats have struggled in recent weeks against backs such as Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah (127 yards), they appear to have a favorable matchup against a struggling Michigan team.
Things are as bad as they seem for the Wolverines.
Offensive coordinator Al Borges seems like a deer in headlights in recent weeks, as does his offensive line when it comes to protecting Gardner. The junior quarterback continues to take an excessive amount of hits and fails to produce through the air.
These factors combine to create a horrific ground attack that Borges simply cannot seem to figure out. Northwestern has been bad in recent weeks, but its players can still smell blood in the water.
At home, Northwestern slips by as Michigan stumbles over itself.
Wildcats win 28-24