Northwestern-Michigan Preview Capsule
No. 13 Northwestern (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) at No. 18 Michigan (4-1, 1-0), 3:30 p.m. ET (BTN)
Line: Michigan by 8
Series Record: Michigan leads 56-15-2
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Northwestern keeps its high hopes, in the Big Ten and nationally, if it stays undefeated with a second win over a ranked opponent (the Wildcats beat Stanford last month). Michigan has won four straight under new coach Jim Harbaugh since opening the season with a seven-point loss at Utah, and the Wolverines would love some momentum going into next week’s game against Michigan State at the Big House.
Northwestern’s stingy defense vs Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock. The Wildcats have started the same 11 players on defense in every game this season. They have shut out two teams, given up a nation-low seven points per game and rank second in third-down defense. Rudock has thrown six interceptions, one more than he threw all of last season at Iowa, and has lost two fumbles in five games with the Wolverines.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Northwestern: RB Justin Jackson. The speedy and powerful sophomore opened with 28 carries for 134 yards rushing against Stanford, his first of four 100-yard games this season and 10 in his career. Jackson is going against a defense that has shut out consecutive opponents and is giving up an average of just 71.4 yards rushing per game, ranking fifth in the nation.
Michigan: DE Royce Jenkins-Stone. The senior is expected to get the biggest opportunity of his career, starting his first game this season and just the third of his career. Jenkins-Stone is projected to replace Mario Ojemudia, who made at least one tackle for loss in each of the team’s first five games.
FACTS & FIGURES
The Wildcats can surpass their number of wins from the previous two years, both of which they finished with 5-7 records, with their first victory against the Wolverines since beating them seven years ago on the road. … Michigan ranks No. 1 in third-down defense, No. 2 in points and yards allowed. … The Wolverines can match the number of wins Brady Hoke (5-7) had last year before being fired. … Both Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald (LB) and Harbaugh (QB) played for the teams they’re coaching.