What does #12 Michigan (5-1) have to do to win a huge rivalry game over #7 Michigan State (6-0) on Saturday afternoon?
Let's get right to it:
Protect the Football and Seize Opportunities
Both of these teams have the capability of making the opposition pay for mistakes. This is where the quarterback play comes in for both teams.
Jake Rudock and Connor Cook will be the maestros that lead their teams' offenses during this game. On talent alone, this would certainly be advantage Spartans, but it is not as cut and dry as that.
The quarterback that protects the football the most and executes his respective offense's gameplan the best will be the one who puts his team in prime position to win the football game.
On one hand, Cook is arguably the best player on the field for either team and has the ability to put the Spartans on his back, while Rudock will have chances to take advantage of a banged up back end of the MSU defense.
Win the Trenches
Does this seem obvious? It may, but it applies to this matchup in a big way.
For the Spartans, they have one of the best fronts in the land on both sides of the ball. On defense, Shilique Calhoun and Malik McDowell lead a unit that wrecks havoc up front. The offensive line has very good players in Jack Conklin and Jack Allen, but injuries have hampered them, leading to inconsistencies.
Michigan's offensive line is steadily improving each week, but will face their biggest challenge of the season so far this week. Mason Cole did a nice job against Calhoun in the previous matchup, so we'll see if he can follow that up.
The defensive line has proven to be one of the deepest and most dominant in the land, so we will see how they are able to matchup against a banged up MSU offensive line.
Limit MSU's Skill Players
The Spartans have some of the best offensive weapons in the country. Running backs LJ Scott and Madre London, along with pass catchers Aaron Burbridge and Josiah Price all could have chances to shine.
Michigan's defense will have to be on its absolute A-game against a Spartan team that has a quarterback that can spread the ball around and the best set of skill players they have seen so far.
Win the Field Position Battle
Michigan's special teams have been vastly improved this season. Michigan State's, however, has not. This could very well be the week Jabrill Peppers pops a touchdown on a punt return.
The Wolverines have been one of the best teams in the country at starting drives in favorable field position. They will be in good shape if they can continue that on Saturday.
What do you think Michigan has to do to win? Sound off in the comments below!