Preview: Michigan at Rutgers

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9Nov 2018
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Preview: Michigan at Rutgers

RUSHING OFFENSE vs. RUTGERS RUSHING DEFENSE

Michigan has worked its way up to #30 in rushing offense (218 yards/game), and they’re tied for #29 at 5.04 yards/carry. The running back group is led by Karan Higdon, who has dominated the carries in the backfield; he has 173 carries for 963 yards (5.57 YPC) and 7 touchdowns. Quarterback Shea Patterson (51 carries, 187 yards, 2 TD) is second on the team in carries, just one ahead of backup running back Chris Evans (50/251/3). Despite talk about a vastly improved offensive line, Michigan is just #64 in Line Yards and #67 in Standard Down Line Yards. It’s still a slog at times, but the threat of the QB run has opened up a few things. Rutgers is #120 in rushing defense (234 yards allowed/game), and they’re allowing 5.64 YPC (#122). Wisconsin and Illinois both ran for 300+ yards on the Scarlet Knights, and Kansas was up over 400. Senior weakside linebacker Trevor Morris (6’1″, 228 lbs.) leads the team with 81 tackles, while senior middle linebacker Deonte Roberts (6’1″, 235) is second with 71. They’re #90 in tackles for loss, led by sophomore defensive end Elorm Lumor (6’3″, 246) with 6.0. None of Rutgers’ top four defensive tackles is above 300 lbs. This should be a good matchup for Michigan.
Advantage: Michigan

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19Oct 2018
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Preview: Michigan at Michigan State

RUSH OFFENSE vs. MICHIGAN STATE RUSH DEFENSE

Michigan is #28 in rushing offense (217 yards/game) and #20 in yards per carry (5.35). Leading rusher Karan Higdon (687 yards, 5.73 yards/carry, 6 TD) has missed some time due to injury, but he has carried the ball almost 25 times a game over the last three contests. Backup Chris Evans returned last week but only ran the ball 5 times (for 18 yards), perhaps because the coaching staff didn’t want to run him too much in the return from his hamstring injury. He and Tru Wilson (6 carries, 26 yards last week) both have 35 attempts on the year. Quarterback Shea Patterson busted out a couple runs on zone reads last week, one for an 81-yarder and another for a 7-yard touchdown. The offensive line had its best game last week against Wisconsin, and left tackle Jon Runyan, Jr. was named the team’s top lineman. The offensive line as a whole is #52 in Line Yards, but they have improved throughout the season and should continue to ascend. Michigan State is #1 in rush defense (62 yards allowed/game) and #1 in yards allowed per carry (2.34). Junior linebacker Joe Bachie (6’2″, 238 lbs.) leads the team with 43 tackles, followed by junior safety Justin Layne (6’2″, 185) with 42, and senior Star linebacker Andrew Dowell (6’1″, 220) with 41. Junior defensive end Kenny Willekes (6’4″, 260) leads the team with 9 tackles for loss, while junior defensive tackle Raequan Williams (6’4″, 300) has 6. The Spartans run a 4-3 defense with Dowell serving as a hybrid player. Even though Michigan has been improving, the #1 rush defense is probably going to present some problems for the Wolverines.
Advantage: Michigan State

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12Oct 2018
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Preview: Michigan vs. Wisconsin

RUSH OFFENSE vs. WISCONSIN RUSH DEFENSE

Michigan is #42 in rushing offense (200 yards/game), and the team’s 5.08 yards per carry is #35 nationally. The team is led by Karan Higdon (582 yards, 5.8 yards/carry, 5 TD), who is averaging just over 20 carries per game, which would be the highest number of carries for any running back in over a decade. Backup Chris Evans (172/5.7/2) has missed the last couple games with a hamstring injury, but he should be back this week. Wisconsin is #43 in rushing defense (130 yards allowed/game) and gives up 4.43 yards per carry (tied for #81). The leading tacklers are senior linebackers Ryan Connelly (6’3″, 237 lbs.) and T.J. Edwards (6’1″, 242) with 29 and 26 tackles, respectively. The next two guys on the list are the starting safeties, who have 25 stops each. Edwards (5.5) and Connelly (4.5) also lead the team in tackles for loss. The Badgers have a massive nose tackle in Olive Sagapolu (6’2″, 342), but they have had a terrible rash of injuries at defensive end and will be without starter Isaiahh Loudermilk.
Advantage: Michigan

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5Oct 2018
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Preview: Michigan vs. Maryland

RUSH OFFENSE vs. MARYLAND RUSH DEFENSE

Michigan is #36 in rushing offense (206 yards/game) and #28 in yards per carry (5.24). Running back Karan Higdon has 115+ yards in three out of his four games at 6.3 yards per attempt. With backup Chris Evans out due to a hamstring injury last week, it was Higdon’s show in a tight game against Northwestern: Higdon out-carried third-stringer Tru Wilson, 30-to-1. The offensive line has been okay, but they aren’t capable of paving the way in the run game when teams aren’t respecting the pass. Michigan tends to run left only, perhaps so they can run bootlegs back to quarterback Shea Patterson’s dominant hand. Maryland is #18 in rushing defense (104 yards allowed/game), and they’re holding opponents to 2.67 yards allowed/carry, which is tied for #8 nationally. It helps that they have played four teams who are #127, #91, #84, and #34 in rushing (Tulsa is #34). Of course, Maryland helped put those teams low in the rankings, but the Terps haven’t been playing the cream of the rushing crop. Senior linebacker Tre Watson (6’2″, 236 lbs.), a transfer from Illinois, leads the team with 39 tackles, following by 6’1″, 245 lb. junior linebacker Isaiah Davis (32). Junior safety Antoine Brooks, Jr. (5’11”, 210) and senior safety Darnell Savage, Jr. (5’11”, 200) lead the team with 4.5 and 4.0 tackles for loss, respectively, a category in which Maryland ranks 52nd. I don’t think Michigan will tee off on the Terrapins, but I think they will have a slight advantage.
Advantage: Michigan

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28Sep 2018
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Preview: Michigan at Northwestern

RUSH OFFENSE vs. NORTHWESTERN RUSH DEFENSE

Michigan is #36 overall (212 yards/game) at running the ball, even after a dominant game last week that saw them run for 285 yards. Karan Higdon has been a difference-maker in his last two games played (25 carries, 292 yards, 2 TD), but he missed the SMU game with an undisclosed injury. The Wolverines will probably be looking to junior Tru Wilson (23 carries, 150 yards, 1 TD) as the primary backup, and it will be interesting to see whether sophomore O’Maury Samuels (9 carries, 49 yards) or freshman Christian Turner (10 carries, 55 yards) steps in next, with junior Chris Evans likely out with a hamstring injury. Up front the offensive line has continued to improve, and left tackle Jon Runyan, Jr. played his best game last week. Northwestern is #42 in rushing defense (130 yards allowed/game) and #59 in yards allowed per carry (3.89). Redshirt sophomore MIKE Paddy Fisher (6’4″, 241 lbs.) leads the team with 28 tackles, followed by sophomore WILL Blake Gallagher (6’1″, 227) with 26 and fifth year senior Nate Hall (6’2″, 231) has 21. The Wildcats are #95 in tackles for loss, led by redshirt junior defensive end Joe Gaziano (6’4″, 275) with 4. Senior defensive tackle Jordan Thompson (6’3″, 292) is second with 3. Northwestern runs a 4-3 or 4-2-5 defense.
Advantage: Michigan

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