Routine. Practice. Effort. Concentrated intensity. Communication. Desire. Fear. Validation. All for the 915th win in program history. All for history.
How to witness
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
Radio: WWJ, AM Radio 950, as well as Sirius Radio, Channel 135, and XM radio, Channel 195.
Online streaming: Available on BTN2Go.
UM has given up 7 rushing touchdowns this year, tied for fewest in the Big Ten. They also pace the conference in tackles for loss, with 66. In conference play, they average 8.4 TFL's per contest. Northwestern's offensive line has mostly kept their tailbacks clean (4.88 TFL's allowed per game on the year), but they have surrendered 23 sacks of Trevor Siemian, almost 3 per game.
Michigan's offense is equally flawed, given its penchant for interceptions (14 given, and only 3 forced, both of which are last in the Big Ten), and its total points per game is second-last in the conference to the Wildcats.
Three names to know
It would be tempting to cheat here and nominate the entire Northwestern offensive line, since they probably hold the key to how competent NU's offense will look. Trevor Siemian has been one of the most sacked quarterbacks in the Big Ten, and as a result he's never gotten in a rhythm all season long. His receivers have had problems catching passes, but more often than not it's out of surprise that one was catchable. (Sound familiar?) As a result, this might be a banner day for Michigan's defensive front, and hopefully Frank Clark's number is called early and often.
Justin Jackson is Northwestern's feature back, and the more you watch him, the more that little things jump out and impress you. He's not big - at all - but the former four-star is strong as an ox for someone so lithe, and he has vision and decision-making to rival a senior tailback. Jackson is the most trust-worthy, reliable part of NU's offense, and he provides a slightly shiftier test than Tevin Coleman.
As well, a name to look out for is Northwestern's middle linebacker, Anthony Walker. The second-year freshman started his first game against Penn State and reached the end zone on a pick-six. He's been unreliable at times since then, but he's notched 12 tackles the last two games and has a nose for the ball. With veteran linebacker Collin Ellis out, and DT Chance Carter, LB Chi Chi Ariguzo and two other defensive tackles all questionable with injuries, Walker is an important X-factor.
For all the talk of Michigan's chances of winning in the Big House in a week versus the Terrapins, this is our last, best chance to win - and we may very well walk out of Evanston without a victory. So, now is a good moment to start getting off the roller coaster that this entire season has been. Do some early Christmas shopping, go out for lunch, then make it back to cheer on the Wolverines. Win or lose, there's always another game. It's just that Michigan will probably be done after twelve this year, with a long, quiet December.