The Michigan Wolverines are 6-0 and are on the brink of returning back to Big Ten glory. It all starts this week against Michigan State. Here are five reasons why the Big Blue will avenge last season's loss on Saturday against Michigan State.
Michigan is playing a lot better, and it happens to be because they are playing better on offense and defense, and the coaches are better.
Game time is 12:00 p.m. EST in East Lansing.
The Michigan Wolverines defense is vastly improved from a year ago.
They may have just given up 24 points to Northwestern, but they held them scoreless in the second half. The Wolverines are giving up just 12.5 points to opponents, which is down from 32.5 points a year ago.
They also are forcing more turnovers. Michigan had 14 total last season. This season, they already have seven.
They are also limiting opponents to 202.5 passing yards per game and 134 rushing yards per game. This is down from last year, when they gave up 188.9 yards on the ground and 261.8 passing yards.
Michigan State is averaging 398 yards per game; 276 yards through the air and 128 yards on the ground.
To a passing offense, Michigan gave up 331 yards to Dan Persa. Michigan State has a better quarterback in Kirk Cousins.
Michigan allowed 107 on the ground to Northwestern last week.
However, Michigan is better in the secondary, and blitzes and puts more pressure on opposing quarterbacks this season.
The most important statistic for this Michigan defense is, in the second half, they have a 93-point differential between the points they have scored (114) and the points they have allowed (21). (Wolverine Nation).
It will all come down to this: Can they stop Kirk Cousins' aerial attack and the rushing duo of Edwin Baker and Le'Veon Bell?
Denard Robinson threw three interceptions last week. All were in the first half, but then he was more accurate in the second half.
Michigan State has forced 10 turnovers this season. Michigan has had seven fumbles, lost two of them and thrown nine interceptions.
The key against Michigan State is to avoid turnovers.
If they don't, Kirk Cousins and his offense will make too many plays to beat you and sooner rather than later, Michigan will have to play from behind.
Robinson has led Michigan to a few come from behind wins as they did against Notre Dame and Northwestern. Robinson was also accurate in those comeback wins, as he did have an interception. Robinson also showed he can make long passes, and was rather accurate doing so.
Play smart and protect the football and Michigan will not have to worry about playing from behind.
The Michigan Wolverines have a full slate of new coaches, and they are a reason why the Wolverines are 6-0.
Brady Hoke did a great job putting his coaches together. On offense, Al Borges has the Wolverines still explosive, but made the passing game significantly better and the running backs more involved.
Borges has gotten Denard Robinson comfortable throwing, and everyone involved in the offense to make it that much scarier.
On defense, Greg Mattison switched schemes from the 3-3-5 to the 4-3 and it has worked a lot better. The Wolverines defense has been a lot more aggressive under Mattison.
With this defense, Mattison has done a great job mixing blitzes, defending the pass and making adjustments from the first to second half.
As the Big Ten schedule gets tougher, it will be more important for Hoke and his coaching staff to keep making adjustments from half to half, to get everyone involved and have a balanced attack on both sides of the ball.
Denard Robinson is having a lot better season, and staying healthy is a big reason why he is.
Possibly Robinson's throwing ability, which has improved, has changed that. With Robinson throwing, he doesn't have to run and take as many direct and hard hits.
Let's compare his stats:
This season, through six games, he is 67-for-117 for 1,130 passing yards, with 10 touchdowns and a 151.2 quarterback rating. Robinson has 720 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.
The only downside, he has nine interceptions and a 57.3 completion percentage, but let's be positive at least Robinson is giving Michigan a more balanced attack.
Last year, Robinson was 182-for-291, and had 2,570 passing yards, 18 touchdowns and a 149.6 quarterback rating. He also had 1,702 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns.
He had 11 interceptions and a 62.5 completion percentage.
Robinson is on pace to pass most of his passing statistics from a year ago, which is a positive. All Robinson needs to do is be smart with his arm and legs.
Brady Hoke could become the first Michigan coach to win the Paul Bunyan Trophy in his first season. It would also make people believe even more that he is the Michigan man that they have searched for since Lloyd Carr left.
Every other coach that has success at Michigan has beaten their rivals.
Plus, Michigan hasn't beaten their rivals in three years.
Beating Michigan State would get Michigan back to being a contender in the Big Ten and more reasons to be on the national radar.