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Michigan’s keys to victory against Northwestern

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NCAA Football: Michigan at Nebraska Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

The sixth-ranked Michigan Wolverines (6-0) look to stay perfect on Saturday as they host the Northwestern Wildcats (3-3). Michigan is the heavy favorite in this one, and a win would set up one of the biggest games in the history of the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry on Oct. 30.

If Michigan wants to avoid the upset, there are a few things it can do to help lead to a comfortable win. Here are the keys to victory for Michigan against the Wildcats.

Establish the run game

Michigan’s run game as of late certainly hasn’t been as dominant as it was during non-conference play, but it has still been extremely effective. This week against Northwestern is a good opportunity to get back to that dominance from early in the season. Northwestern’s defense struggles against the run, giving up 206 yards per game on the ground, the worst in the Big Ten. The duo of Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum should be able to exploit that weakness and have big days for the offense.

Stay focused

College football is a crazy game. The unthinkable seems to happen every weekend, especially this year. There is chaos around every corner and you never know who is going to pull off the weekend’s big shocker. It is important for the Wolverines to treat Northwestern the same as they treat every opponent and not get caught looking ahead to next week’s game against Michigan State. Earlier in the season against Rutgers, we saw Michigan sleep walk through the second half and let the Scarlet Knights make things much closer than it needed to be. Perhaps this was because they started thinking about Wisconsin, which was considered to be the first true test of the 2021 season. It is crucial Michigan plays a full 60 minutes, takes care of business and walks out of this game 7-0. Don’t overlook the Wildcats, and don’t be the shocker of the weekend.

Win the turnover battle

Michigan has consistently taken very good care of the ball this season, which will be crucial for the Wolverines to maintain as they get into the bulk of their schedule. If the defense starts forcing more turnovers, this is going to turn into a major advantage for Michigan and could be the difference in some big games down the road. Getting that defensive momentum going against Northwestern would be big, and it would go a long way in ensuring a stress free victory for the Wolverines, too.