Last Week: Beat Northwestern 42 - 24
What we learned: Michigan lives and dies by Denard Robinson, and that isn't always a good thing.
In a strange week of shifting fortunes for teams, perhaps none was stranger than Michigan's comeback win over Northwestern.
Just looking over the final score and the box score you wouldn't think the Wolverines had any trouble.
Michigan gained 541 yards of total offense, passed for 362 on a nearly 70 percent completion rate, and gained 179 yards rushing.
Even the conversion rates make Michigan's day seem pretty easy: 14 for 17 on third down and one for one on fourth.
However, at halftime Michigan was down by 10 points. No one was sure that Michigan would be able to slow Northwestern down enough to catch up.
Two eighty-yard touchdown drives later, Michigan was back in control and wouldn't look back.
The story is largely one of turnovers. Denard threw three interceptions in the first half, and not one of them was even close to excusable.
Robinson was under or over-throwing his receivers badly.
It was these three interceptions that killed the Wolverine offense in the first half, giving the ball back to Northwestern. The rest of the offense was slowly but effectively moving the ball.
After leading the team the length of the field for an opening drive touchdown Robinson followed up on the next two drives with an interception. He threw one before halftime that set up a Northwestern score.
In the second half Robinson settled down and started completing his passes at a better rate and avoiding turnovers. Meanwhile, the Michigan defense started to take over.
In the second half the Wolverines forced an interception, a fumble, a (controversial) failed fourth down try, and a punt. Northwestern had the ball less than ten minutes in the second half.
Just as the Notre Dame game showed how much Michigan depends on Robinson, so too does this game. When Robinson was off—and by that I mean very off—the Wolverines were abysmal.
When Robinson was on, Michigan moved down the field with ease for touchdowns.
Next week the Michigan State defense won't be so forgiving.
If Robinson struggles—and remember, he threw three interceptions against the Spartans last year, two in the red zone—Michigan State will have an easy path to a win.
If Robinson plays confident and doesn't turn the ball over? Maybe the Wolverines justify the lofty ranking.
Next Week: at Michigan State; Noon, ESPN