First of all I have to apologize for last weeks close-call against UMass.
You see, the thing is, I didn't wear my lucky jersey and I'm positive that was a direct correlation to almost losing to an FCS opponent. As a Michigan fan, I let you down and I take full responsibility for my actions. Rest assured, it won't happen again.
There's at least a couple of reasons to be (more) optimistic about tomorrow's game against Bowling Green and I'll highlight a few of those as we take a look at some of the key match-ups we'll see on the field in Ann Arbor Saturday.
Bowling Green's Offense vs. Michigan's Defense
Fear Factor: 7
Generally I'd feel a little less optimistic about any match-up involving Michigan's defense but, good news for the Wolverines, Bowling Green will be without starting quarterback Matt Schliz. Schliz has thrown for some okay numbers (664 yards at 64.8%, 2 TDS, and 4 INTS) but, as we've seen so far, "okay" is probably enough to give the Wolverine's secondary fits.
Aaron Pankratz came in for Schliz last week when he went down and completed 5 of 8 passes for 111 (22 YPA!!) yards. The Falcons' other option at QB is walk-on and red-shirt freshman Kellen Pagel. Regardless of who starts, expect them to be chucking the football to Kamar Jorden who leads the FBS with 34 receptions and is 6th in receiving yards at 343.
If you couldn't tell from those numbers Bowling Green isn't much of a running team, averaging only 83 rushing yards per game. Their run-to-pass ratio is about 75-116 meaning, for those who don't like math—Bowling Green rushes about 39% of the time.
This may change against Michigan with Schliz being out of the game but, whatever the case, expect the Falcons to be able to move the ball and keep things at least a little interesting for a while.
Key Match-up: Kamar Jorden and anyone unfortunate enough to have to guard him.
Michigan's Offense vs. Bowling Green's Defense
Fear Factor: 0
If you're a Michigan fan you'll probably giggle a little when you read this: Bowling Green is 98th overall in rushing defense and have conceded an average of 5 YPC against teams that don't have Denard Robinson. The best thing the Falcons can hope to do is stack as many men in the box as they can afford and force Denard to throw the ball.
Bowling Green is slightly less of a trainwreck in this department. Marshall's QB coughed up 4 INT's last week against this unit, bringing their total up to 7 INT's in 3 games. I don't see this being much of a problem for the Wolverines since Denard and co. should be pre-occupied with putting up ridiculous numbers in the ground game.
Fitzgerald Toussaint is listed at 75% (Probable) for this week and, since he dressed last week, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him and Micheal Cox get some reps in at tailback. If Michigan is isn't in an "OMG PANIC" position to end the 3rd quarter, we may even see some action from Devin Gardner and Tate Forcier but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
[EDIT: Apparently Michigan will play the backups regardless of score. Freep - "...And a bunch of other guys, more running backs, more receivers, more linemen," Rodriguez said about who will play. "We've got to get them in the game whether we're ahead or not. We've got to try to get more guys ready to play."]
Key Matchup: Denard Robinson against everyone.
Fear Factor: 10
Michigan is awful in just about every aspect of special teams going 1/5 for field goals and, I swear to God, if Jeremy Gallon is returning punts again this week... (*trails off meaningfully).
Special teams haven't really stood out for Bowling Green, but I would have to say that it doesn't really matter much at this point. If they can manage to avoid stupid penalties during Michigan field goal attempts (if there are any) and punt the ball in the general direction of a Michigan return man—they should be just fine in this department.
Fear Factor: 6
Michigan's defense just isn't good enough to write anybody off at this point but I think they can win this game. BGSU will undoubtedly find a way to move the ball down the field and put up points but I don't think they are good enough defensively to cause Michigan too many worries.
Michigan is currently 25.5 point favorites and I really couldn't tell you how I would bet. I would feel a lot better if last week hadn't been so close. This game has a lot of implications for Michigan going into Big 10 play next week against Indiana.
Bonus Big 10 Content!
Angry Iowa Running-Back-Hating God, as MGoBlog has so lovingly dubbed it, has seen fit to decimate Iowa's RB corps, striking down Jewel Hampton (ACL) and Paki O'Meara (Concussion). This leaves Adam Robinson and "anybody else who wants to volunteer," according to Kirk Ferentz on the depth chart for Iowa.
While I don't like to see anyone get hurt, this bodes slightly better ("well" is too strong of a word) for Michigan who hosts the Hawkeyes October 16th.
In OSU news, Jim Tressel has come out and said that Brutus is "Probable" for tomorrow's game against the Eastern Michigan. If you hadn't heard, Rufus, Ohio University's mascot, got in to a bit of a tussle with Brutus during the pregame show at the Horseshoe last Saturday.
Don Treadwell has taken over head coaching duties for Michigan State in Mark Dantonio's absence. I'm sure I speak for all of the Michigan nation when I wish Coach Dantonio a speedy recovery. A heart-attack is nothing to joke about and, while we'd all like to see him on the sideline as soon as possible, we hope he takes it easy and comes back when doctors are sure he's at 100 percent.
Add Chris Borland along with Nick Toon and David Gilreath to the list of injured badgers. Toon and Gilreath should be back for Big 10 play but Borland (shoulder) is going to be out the rest of the season.
Evan Royster is apparently not in the proverbial "Dog House" after getting benched halfway through Penn State's game last week against Kent State. "I think we have a bunch of kids we're trying to bring along," Paterno said. "We got ahead fairly early against Kent State, and it was a good time to play some of those kids." I'm not sure what that means beyond it being the political answer but we could be seeing less of Royster in the near future, who hasn't been very productive anyway.