Preview: Michigan vs. Ohio State

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24Nov 2017
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Preview: Michigan vs. Ohio State

RUSH OFFENSE vs. OHIO STATE RUSH DEFENSE

Michigan is #35 in rushing offense (194 yards/game) and #52 in rushing average (4.64 yards/carry). Starter Karan Higdon has been hampered by an ankle injury over the past couple weeks and managed just 7 attempts for 20 yards last week against Wisconsin. With Ty Isaac working through an injury, Michigan’s three-man rotation was largely limited to Chris Evans (11 carries for 25 yards last week). Michigan is #20 in Adjusted Line Yards and #49 in Standard Down Line Yards. The line had been playing better for a few weeks, but the Wisconsin game saw the lowest yards per carry (1.57) all season, as well as the lowest rushing output (58 yards), with the previous low being 102 against Michigan State. Ohio State is #12 in rushing defense (114 yards allowed/game), and they allow the 10th fewest yards per carry (3.16). Their defense is actually #1 in Adjusted Line Yards and #4 in Standard Down Line Yards, so they’re very stout up front with a lot of guys they can rotate in as part of the front four. They’re #8 in tackles for loss with defense ends Nick Bosa (6’4″, 270 lbs.) and Sam Hubbard (6’5″, 265) leading the way with 11.5 and 7.5, respectively. Somewhat surprisingly, Ohio State’s top two tacklers are safeties Jordan Fuller (6’2″, 207) with 54 and Damon Webb (5’11”, 195) with 49. The last time Ohio State’s leading tackler wasn’t a linebacker¬†and the last time when the leading tackler didn’t have 100 tackles was in 2011, when safety C.J. Barnett led the squad with 75 tackles. The Buckeyes have some quality linebackers, but they don’t have a dominant player like Ryan Shazier or Raekwon McMillan.
Advantage: Ohio State

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17Nov 2017
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Preview: Michigan at Wisconsin

RUSH OFFENSE vs. WISCONSIN RUSH DEFENSE

Michigan is #30 in rushing offense (208 yards/game), and that ranking comes after 865 yards and 11 touchdowns over the past three games. The Wolverines are tied for #41 in rushing average (4.91 yards/carry) and tied for #34 in rushing touchdowns. A couple of those stats are made more impressive by the fact that Michigan has generally struggled to pass the ball all season. Michigan’s offensive line is #10 in Adjusted Line Yards and #35 in Standard Down Line Yards, so they’re doing okay. Starting running back Karan Higdon (854 yards, 6.62 yards/carry, 10 TDs) left last week’s Maryland game with an ankle injury, but he is expected to return; he has two 200-yard games this season. Meanwhile, right guard Michael Onwenu is also expected back from injury. Wisconsin is #1 nationally in rush defense (81.5 yards allowed/game), and they have allowed fewer than 100 yards to six out of ten opponents so far. The most productive running team against them was Nebraska, who had 110 yards and averaged 4.23 yards/carry. Linebacker Ryan Connelly (6’3″, 228 lbs.) leads the team with 55 tackles, and seven of the top nine tacklers are linebackers in their base 3-4 defense. Six players have between 5.5 and 9.5 tackles for loss, led by senior outside linebacker Garret Dooley (6’3″, 246). The team is tied at #31 with 69 tackles for loss this season. Michigan has run the ball better than some people give them credit for this season, but it’s an offense still finding its way against the #1 run-stuffing defense in the nation.
Advantage: Wisconsin

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10Nov 2017
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Preview: Michigan at Maryland

RUSH OFFENSE vs. MARYLAND RUSH DEFENSE

Michigan has moved up to #29 nationally with 213 yards/game on the ground. They’re #38 in rushing average (4.98 yards/carry). Junior running back Karan Higdon has taken the lead with about 30 more carries than the top two other backs, and he’s now on pace to top 1,000 yards for the season (804 yards, 10 TDs). The Wolverines ran the ball all over Minnesota last week, with nearly 400 yards on the ground and three 60+ yard runs (2 by Chris Evans, 1 by Higdon). Michigan has improved its run blocking up front, partly due to the insertion of Juwann Bushell-Beatty at right tackle a few weeks ago. Maryland, meanwhile, is #77 in rush defense (175 yards allowed/game) and in yards per carry allowed (4.46). The leading tackler is senior linebacker Jermaine Carter, Jr. (6’0″, 228 lbs.) with 59, but the next three leading tacklers are all defensive backs. The leading tackler for losses is sophomore nickelback Antoine Brooks, Jr. (5’11”, 210) with 7.5, followed by Carter’s 6.0. Altogether, the Terrapins are tied for #81 in tackles for loss with 49 so far. They run a hybrid 3-4/4-3 with a standup Buck linebacker who plays like a weakside end. Coming off a week in which Michigan ran for almost 400 yards and Maryland gave up 239 rushing yards to Rutgers, the Wolverines should be in decent shape.
Advantage: Michigan

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3Nov 2017
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Preview: Michigan vs. Minnesota

RUSH OFFENSE vs. MINNESOTA RUSH DEFENSE

Michigan is up to #38 in rushing offense (193.4 yards/game) and #57 in yards per carry (4.57). Karan Higdon has taken over the leading role with 604 yards and 8 touchdowns on 5.9 yards/carry. Ty Isaac has also run well, but he left last weekend’s game with an injury, and Kareem Walker also left with a sprained ankle. The other top option is Chris Evans (298 yards on 3.9 yards/carry). The offensive line is #19 in Adjusted Line Yards this season. The group has improved noticeably over the past few weeks, particularly in the run game since right tackle Nolan Ulizio was replaced by Juwann Bushell-Beatty. The Gophers are #36 in rushing defense (132.8 yards allowed/game) and #54 in yards allowed per carry (4.12). The leading tackler is middle linebacker Thomas Barber (6’1″, 233 lbs.) with 75 stops, and he’s followed by weakside linebacker Jonathan Celestin (6’1″, 232) with 60 tackles. Barber is #2 on the team in tackles for loss (8.0), topped only by DE/OLB Carter Coughlin (6’4″, 245) and his 8.5 tackles for loss. Minnesota has a solid interior defensive line with nose tackle Steven Richardson (6’0″, 300) and 3-tech Gary Moore (6’4″, 295). The Gophers are solid up front, but Michigan seems to have an upward trend right now that I expect to continue in the running game.
Advantage: Michigan

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27Oct 2017
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Preview: Michigan vs. Rutgers

 

RUSH OFFENSE vs. RUTGERS RUSH DEFENSE

Michigan is #56 in rushing (173 yards/game) but #80 in rushing average (4.08 yards/carry). The Wolverines have overly committed to the running game since passing is such a difficulty. Karan Higdon has seemingly taken hold of the starting running back job (446 yards, 6 TDs), while Ty Isaac is the primary backup (439 yards, 2 TDs). Michigan has installed redshirt junior Juwann Bushell-Beatty at right tackle, and he seems more effective against the run than redshirt sophomore Nolan Ulizio was. Rutgers is #61 in rushing defense (159 yards allowed/game) and #73 in yards allowed per carry (4.46). The Scarlet Knights run a 4-3 defense, and they are led in tackles by inside linebackers Trevor Morris (6’1″, 232 lbs.) and Deonte Roberts (6’1″, 235) with 57 and 51 tackles, respectively. Rutgers is #129 (out of 130 teams) in tackles for loss with just 25 through seven games. Michigan transfer Ross Douglas is fifth on the squad with 27 tackles.
Advantage: Michigan

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