Michigan expects a tough test at Michigan State
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP)
''They bullied us,'' offensive tackle Taylor Lewan recalled Monday. ''That's tough for me to admit because I don't like getting bullied.''
When the 23rd-ranked Wolverines (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten) play Saturday on the road against the 24th-ranked Spartans (7-1, 4-0), Lewan vowed that he and his teammates will be much tougher.
''We're not going to get bullied,'' he said.
Michigan will be without bruising tight end A.J. Williams, who started the last four games, because coach Brady Hoke said the sophomore violated unspecified team rules.
''It's certainly disappointing when one of your kids makes a very poor decision,'' Hoke said in a statement released by the school after his weekly news conference. ''A.J. realizes he has let a lot of people down, including himself. As families do, we will help A.J. as he learns a valuable lesson from this.''
The Spartans beat - and beat up - Michigan 28-14 in 2011 for their fourth straight win in the rivalry. Last year, the Wolverines snapped the losing streak in Ann Arbor with a 12-10 win to avoid dropping five straight for the first time in the series that began in 1898.
Michigan offensive tackle Michael Schofield was asked what seniors say to younger teammates to get them ready for what they will face on the field at Spartan Stadium.
''Sixty minutes of unnecessary roughness,'' he said.
Schofield borrowed the phase used by Spartans defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi after the game two years ago. He later apologized for the comment and was admonished by athletic director Mark Hollis.
Former Spartans defensive end William Gholston was suspended by the Big Ten for a game two years ago after punching Lewan and jumping on a pileup, grabbing then-quarterback Denard Robison's facemask and twisting it about 180 degrees.
''If someone hit you right in the face, would you take that personally?'' Lewan asked.
Schofield, though, said the Wolverines will hit hard with shoulder pads - not fists - against Michigan State.
''We're not going to go out there and start fighting,'' Schofield said.
As much as Michigan doesn't like the Spartans, its coaches and players respect them - especially on defense. Hoke said the Spartans are as good on defense as any team in college football.
''There's probably five or six pro players on that defense,'' Hoke said.
The Spartans' strength will likely test Michigan's weakness, the interior of its offensive line.
The Wolverines have used started three different combinations of centers and guards in their last four games. They expect to use a fourth combination against the Spartans with freshman Kyle Bosch likely making his first start in place of injured Joey Burzynski at left guard next to center Graham Glasgow and right guard Erik Magnuson.
Glasgow is set to make his fourth straight start, Magnuson his second, between experienced tackles Lewan and Schofield.
''They have a great defense,'' Schofield said. ''It will be a great test for our offense. We could really show what our offense could do if we do well against these guys.''
And if the Wolverines don't fare well, their chances of winning a Big Ten title will probably be dashed.
Michigan State leads Michigan and Nebraska the Legends Division by 1 1/2 games and would move a big step toward playing in the conference championship game with a win against the Wolverines.
With a Big Ten championship drought that dates to 2004, Hoke has let his players know what is at stake in the standings against the Spartans.
''You'd be foolish not to,'' Hoke said.
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