Friday, November 9, 2012

Week 11 Predictions and Notes

Entering Week 11 of the college football season, Michigan fans have been wondering one thing all week long. Who will start for the Wolverines on Saturday against Northwestern. I suppose the answer is your guess is as good as mine. I'm not sure if Denard will be fully healthy for the game. The ulnar nerve in his throwing elbow is probably not fully healed. I think it's safe to say Denard will start, but I don't know if it's just as safe to say he'll play the whole game. Devin Gardner did very well last week in his first career start against Minnesota, but I think the bottom line is that right now, this is Robinson's team. Regardless of the quarterback, Michigan (6-3, 4-1) could take a giant step forward in the tight Legends Division race by getting past Northwestern (7-2, 3-2).

Northwestern at Michigan -As I've stated earlier, I do think Denard will be starting this game, barring unforeseen setbacks or if his throws in warmups aren't on point. The Wildcats defense, especially in passing situations is quite poor and can be exploited. Michigan ranks No. 1 in the country in pass defense (145.4 yards per game), No. 7 in total defense (288.7) and No. 13 in scoring defense (16.8).  Michigan needs this win to stay on the heels of the Cornhuskers in the Legends Division. Winner: Michigan

Penn State at Nebraska -In order for Nebraska to win the division they must win out. One loss puts Michigan back in the race and so they must beat Penn State at home. Both teams have good offenses, but are also both suspect on defense. Remember, last season's game took place right after Paterno was fired, and then the Nittany Lions snowballed from there. As much as it hurts me to say it, I'm going with Martinez being the difference maker. Winner: Nebraska

Wisconsin at Indiana -Who would have thought this could be an intriguing contest in November? The rest of the Leaders Division is out of the race due to either sanctions or a bad record. If Indiana wins, and then beat Penn State or Purdue they can go to Indy with a 7-5 record. Now that's the underdog role. However, Wisconsin is doing better now than they were in September and while the quarterback position is unstable due to Joel Stave being out for the rest of the season, the running game with Montee Ball and James White is still going against Indiana's 104th ranked run defense. Winner: Wisconsin

Minnesota at Illinois -Now that both teams are out of their respective division races, Minnesota still needs one more win to become bowl eligible, which I believe for Jerry Kill would be a feather in his cap. No one wants to see him go ballistic on the sideline and possibly have another seizure, but against Illinois I doubt he'd have to worry much. Winner: Minnesota

Purdue at Iowa -Both teams have failed the expectations we all had for them at the start of the season. The Boilermakers started well, but it was against weaker competition and they still haven't won a Big Ten game thus far. Iowa has been up and down--losing to CMU, beating Michigan State and Minnesota. The inconsistency of the Hawkeyes combined with the sudden downturn of Mark Wiesman at running back has set this team back again. This one is a crapshoot, but I'm not going with the team who hasn't won a divisional game yet. Winner: Iowa

  • Michigan fans keep a lookout for Kenny Demens on Saturday. He might not be the leading tackler on defense, but he is close behind, started every game for two seasons, and be one of the primary defenders on Venric Mark and Kain Colter...the two top Northwestern threats.
  • On the recruiting front, Leon McQuay is supposed to be taking an official visit to Michigan on Saturday, which could be the last chance the Wolverines have in enticing him to come play for them. McQuay is also interested in Vanderbilt, Florida State, and USC. If Michigan is successful in getting the 5* safety, it could make up for the potential loss of Gareon Conley if he decides to de-commit or visit other schools.
  • Keep a lookout the next few weeks to Michigan's record and their bowl placement. Best case they can still go to the Rose Bowl, and worst case is the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. My hunch is that they'll finish second in the Big Ten and be invited to the Capital One Bowl against an SEC team, presumably Florida

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