Pat Fitzgerald's 13th-ranked Northwestern Wildcats (5-0) travel to Ann Arbor on Saturday to take on Jim Harbaugh and his 18th-ranked Michigan Wolverines (4-1) in the biggest early season matchup that the Big Ten Conference has had to offer so far this season.
Which is a surprise to many.
It is not often that a team's homecoming game ends up being one of their toughest games of the season, but here we are. Northwestern has been excellent so far this season and has yet to lose a game, while the Wolverines have been putting a beating on everyone since their week one loss at Utah.
This matchup features two of the top five defenses in all of college football, so the biggest thing to look out for in this game is basically who blinks first.
Northwestern has a pair of players on offense in quarterback Clayton Thorson and running back Justin Jackson who are two of the better players at their position in the conference. Thorson is only a redshirt freshman, but he has made his fair share of big plays in his team's big start and Jackson is one of the best running backs in the country.
This is not the best offensive team Michigan has played, but they will still be on high alert on the defensive side of the football. It would be a big surprise to seem them not keep performing well in this game.
Linebacker Anthony Walker leads the Wildcats on defense, which is ranked fifth-overall in the country. We will see how Jake Rudock and compary, an already struggling offense at times, fares against the best defensive team they have seen through six weeks. Expect the Wolverines to keep running the football like they have been, or at least try to.
De'Veon Smith and Channing Stribling are expected to play following missing last week's game at Maryland, so that will provide a boost to both sides of the football.
In terms of a score prediction, I have the Wolverines winning this game 20-3. Michigan should be able to get enough out of its offense and will score a late touchdown to seal the game.
Be sure to make your prediction for this game using the Crowd's Line widget directly below:
Teams: Northwestern vs. Michigan
Date: October 10th, 2015
Location: Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich. (107,601)
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET
Television: Big Ten Network/BTN2Go
Radio: Michigan/IMG Sports Network (for a list of affiliates, click here)
Spread: Michigan -10
- This is the 74th meeting between Michigan and Northwestern. The Wolverines lead the all-time series 56-15-2.
- Michigan has won 31 of the last 35 games in this series.
- They are also 34-6-2 all-time at Michigan Stadium against the Wildcats
- The Wolverines have won 16 of their last 20 Homecoming games and are 88-28-2 all-time.
- The last three games between these two teams have been decided by less than a score with Michigan winning each. (Remember M00N?)
- Pat Fitzgerald was a keynote speaker at this summer's "Exposure U" camp held at U-M.
Hitting the Links: MnB's Northwestern vs. Michigan Coverage
10-10 - Northwestern vs. Michigan: Keys to a Wolverine Victory
10-9 - Matchups to Watch: Northwestern vs. Michigan
10-9 - Staff Roundtable and Predictions: Northwestern vs. Michigan
10-8 - S&P+ Predicts the Michigan-Northwestern Score
10-8 - The Michigan Man Podcast Episode 269 w/ Northwestern Radio Voice Dave Eanet
10-8 - Behind Enemy Lines: Q&A with Inside NU
10-8 - Week Six Best Bets: Do or Die with Rice?
10-7 - Getting to Know the Northwestern Wildcats
10-6 - Big Ten Week Six Odds: Letdown Spots at a Premium
10-5 - Smith and Stribling Back at Practice
10-5 - Big Ten's Two Most Impressive Teams Meet Saturday in Ann Arbor
10-4 - Michigan Opens at 12-point Favorite Over Northwestern
Week Six College Football TV Schedule