Bowling Green-Michigan Preview
Michigan is determined to play better after last week's scare.
The No. 21 Wolverines might want to start doing so this week, as their next opponent has proved capable of defeating BCS opponents in recent years - especially Big Ten teams.
Michigan looks to go unbeaten in non-conference play in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1997 when it hosts Bowling Green on Saturday.
The Wolverines (3-0) took an 18-point lead in the fourth quarter against visiting FCS opponent Massachusetts last week, but had that advantage cut to five with 2:05 remaining. An onside kick attempt that went out of bounds allowed them to hang on for a 42-37 victory.
"Last game was a reality check," safety Cameron Gordon said. "We're going to be very focused, very determined."
While quarterback Denard Robinson shined once again, Michigan had more troubling performances from its defense and special teams. The Wolverines allowed a season-worst 217 rushing yards and gave up 439 overall after allowing 535 yards in a win at Notre Dame on Sept. 11.
"We were terrible on defense," linebacker Craig Roh said. "We just didn't look like we were prepared to play and we didn't make adjustments during the game. ... I promise you'll not see another game like that from us again."
A blocked punt led to the Minutemen's final touchdown, while Michigan's struggles on field goals also continued. Seth Broekhuizen missed on his only attempt from 38 yards after beating out Brendan Gibbons, who is 1 for 4, in last week's open competition.
"I think the game got our guys' attention that there's a lot of work left for us to do," Rodriguez said. "There's a lot of things we need to clean up to get better."
Without Robinson's spectacular play, Michigan would have no chance of being unbeaten. The sophomore went 10 of 14 for 241 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, while rushing for 104 yards and a TD last week.
Robinson leads the nation with 559 rushing yards and has completed nearly 70 percent of his passes for 671. As a result, the Wolverines are sixth in the nation in rushing with 286.3 yards per game and 10th in total yards at 510.0.
Robinson could be in for another big day against a Bowling Green defense that's giving up 465.7 yards a contest - 111th out of 120 in the FBS - and 194.0 on the ground.
The Falcons, however, have won 11 of their last 20 matchups with BCS opponents, going 4-5 against the Big Ten in that span.
"We cannot mess around and expect to win games. We're not at that stage," said Rodriguez, whose team has won its last seven non-conference matchups.
Bowling Green (1-2) is coming off a determined performance last week in a 44-28 win over Marshall. The Falcons built a 21-point lead late in the first half before seeing it erased after three quarters.
Bowling Green responded with 16 unanswered points, getting its second interception return for a touchdown of the game.
Sophomore Aaron Pankratz, who replaced an injured Matt Schilz (shoulder) in the third quarter, was 5 of 8 for 111 yards and connected with Tyrone Pronty for a 31-yard score in the final period. Schilz's status for Saturday is uncertain.
"All year, our guys have played hard. We've gotten close in the fourth quarter against some good teams. We didn't make the critical plays we needed," coach Dave Clawson said. "Tonight, we made those plays."
One of Pankratz's completions was to Kamar Jorden, who leads the FBS with 34 receptions and is sixth with 343 receiving yards.
Michigan is 26-1 all-time against Mid-American Conference foes. The Wolverines won 42-7 in their only meeting with Bowling Green in 2000.