Big Ten East Notebook: Michigan preparing for show-me game

Michigan is looking to celebrate a victory over a ranked opponent on Saturday.

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While Michigan State and Ohio State have dominated the headlines among Big Ten East teams the past couple of weeks, Michigan has practically flown under the radar.

The Wolverines have won two games in relatively workmanlike fashion, first downing Oregon State 35-7, then handing UNLV a 28-7 defeat.

The lack of attention for the Wolverines has come in stark contrast to the opening week of the season, when Jim Harbaugh’s debut as head coach was among the most-talked-about games of the week. And of course it follows an offseason in which Harbaugh seemed to make a new headline at least once a week, if not more.

The Wolverines can probably expect a return of some of those bright lights this week as they prepare to play host to BYU.

The Cougars are coming off a hard-fought 24-23 loss to UCLA, but remain in The Associated Press Top 25 at No. 22, meaning Michigan has a chance to do something it has not since early in the 2013 season: Beat a top-25 team.

Since a wild 41-30 win over 14th-ranked Notre Dame on Sept. 7, 2013, more than two full calendar years have passed and the Wolverines have dropped five straight to ranked teams, including three last season.

Overall, Michigan is 5-21 against ranked opponents since Rich Rodriguez took over as head coach for the 2008 season. Rodriguez’s Michigan teams were 2-11 against ranked teams while successor Brady Hoke went 3-10. 

Although the Cougars are ranked and the Wolverines are not, MLive.com notes Michigan is a four-point favorite according to VegasInsider.com.

"I think this will be a great test for our team," Harbaugh told reporters in Ann Arbor on Monday (via MGoBlog). "Very excited about the competition this week and what’s in store. It’ll be a great gauge for where our team is at right now."

Wreaking Havoc

The backfield has not been a safe place for the quarterbacks of Big Ten opponents early this season.

Eight players from the division already have more than two sacks on the season with Penn State defensive end Carl Nassib leading the way with five. That has him tied with Dale Pierson of Iowa State for third in the country. Maryland’s Yannick Ngakoue has 4.5 sacks while teammate Quinton Jefferson has 3.5.

Penn State nose tackle Austin Johnson, Ohio State ends Tyquan Lewis and Sam Hubbard and Ohio State linebacker Darron Lee all have 2.5 so far.

Maryland, Penn State and Ohio State rank second, third and fourth nationally with 14, 13 and 12 sacks, respectively. Michigan State is tied for seventh with 11.

Tony Who?

How is Michigan State coping with the loss of Tony Lippett, the 2014 Big Ten Receiver of the Year, to the NFL?

Meyer declines to identify Buckeyes' starter, says OSU not running 2-QB system

Pretty well, actually. Senior Aaron Burbridge has stepped into Lippett’s spot as quarterback Connor Cook’s go-to receiver and leads the Big Ten with 374 receiving yards through three games. His 20 catches are second to Matt VandeBerg of Iowa, who has 22.

Burbridge has four touchdown catches, including three last week in a win over Air Force. That effort earned him Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week recognition.

"I’m just playing with confidence," he told reporters in East Lansing on Saturday. "Confidence is key. We’re all here playing for Michigan State. But you have to go out there with the confidence to know what you’re doing."

Welcome Back

Indiana’s offense took a nosedive last season when quarterback Nate Sudfeld went down with a shoulder injury around the halfway point, but he has been strong in his return so far this year.

Through three weeks, Sudfeld leads the Big Ten with 938 yards passing, and he is No. 1 in pass efficiency rating at 164.4. Sudfeld is also No. 1 in the league in total offense (325.0 yards per game) while new teammate Jordan Howard, who transferred from UAB, leads the nation in total yards rushing with 507.

Those two are a big part of the reason the Hoosiers are 3-0 for the first time since 2010.

Marcus Hartman covers the Big Ten East and Notre Dame for FOX Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @marcushartman.