ANN ARBOR, Mich. – For the additional division in a row, the Michigan football aggregation will access its antagonism with Michigan Accompaniment ranked in the top 10. Ironically, this year’s aggregation has a accident on its resume but looks abundant afterpiece to a complete product.
At 4-0, the Wolverines entered the 2017 MSU d as the No. 7 aggregation in the country. They were advancing off what seemed to be an absorbing win at Purdue and had already agape off Florida in the opener.
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Michigan Accompaniment was the aboriginal aggregation to acknowledge the authentic cracks in Michigan’s foundation, as Jim Harbaugh’s aggregation absent bristles amateur afore the division ended.
This year, Michigan has to biking to East Lansing, area it won in 2016 but hasn’t had abundant success in the aftermost decade. Here are bristles things that austere Michigan in aftermost season’s accident that it has to abstain Saturday.
Last season: Michigan absent the about-face action 5-0 to MSU.
The No. 1 acumen Michigan absent to Michigan Accompaniment was turnovers. It’s about absurd to win a academy football d with bristles added turnovers than an opponent.
Specifically, the aboriginal about-face of the d was the one that bedevilled the Wolverines. Michigan started the d with a 64-yard acreage ambition drive, affected a three-and-out and best up addition aboriginal bottomward to get to the 38-yard line.
Michigan State’s aegis was on its heels as Ty Isaac took the aboriginal bottomward backpack eight yards to the 46-yard line, but afresh he coughed up the ball. Michigan Accompaniment denticulate six plays later, took a 14-3 advance afore halftime and never looked back.
After Michigan denticulate on its additional control of the additional half, John O’Korn threw interceptions on three after drives.
Five turnovers is acutely extreme. In fact, this year’s Michigan aggregation has bristles turnovers through seven games. Alone four teams accept beneath turnovers than Michigan this season, and that has to abide this weekend adjoin an adept MSU squad.
Last season: Michigan Accompaniment won the hasty action 158-102.
College football admirers in the accompaniment of Michigan apperceive the aggregation that wins the hasty action about wins this animosity game. That was the case afresh aftermost season, as Michigan alone the active d and acclimatized for aloof 102 yards on the ground.
The Spartans averaged 4 yards per carry, while Michigan acquired aloof 2.6 yards per carry.
Michigan is active for 217 yards per d this season, acceptable for 28th in the nation. But Michigan Accompaniment is by far the best hasty aegis in the nation, captivation teams to 62.33 yards per d on the ground. The next-closest team, Utah, allows 74.83 hasty yards per game.
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Something will accept to accord Saturday as the strengths of the two teams clash.
Meanwhile, the MSU breach assets aloof 123 yards on the arena per game, 115th in the country. Alone 13 teams accept rushed for beneath than Michigan State’s 3.42 yards per carry. Michigan owns the No. 15 hasty defense, acceptance 108.36 hasty yards per game.
It looks like Michigan Accompaniment should accept agitation active the ball, but Mark Dantonio consistently has article up his sleeve adjoin the Wolverines.
Michigan Accompaniment is 118th in casual yards accustomed per game, so if Michigan can authorize some blazon of hasty attack, Shea Patterson can put the finishing touches on a able abhorrent performance.
Last season: Michigan accustomed four sacks, six tackles for accident and one quarterback hurry.
Outside quarterback, the abhorrent band ability be the best bigger position accumulation for Michigan this season.
Since accepting absolute up for 60 account adjoin Notre Dame, Michigan’s abhorrent band has been accomplished in canyon protection, acceptance aloof eight sacks in six games. The Wisconsin d bankrupt a band of four beeline amateur with one or no sacks accustomed for the Wolverines.
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Michigan Accompaniment is in the boilerplate of the backpack nationally with 14 sacks through six games, but that’s appropriate in the aforementioned ambit as Notre Dame (16 sacks) and Western Michigan (14), both of which recorded assorted sacks adjoin Michigan.
The Spartans are stout up advanced and will try to blitz Michigan into mistakes, a plan that formed to accomplishment aftermost meeting. Patterson has been acutely authentic back he has time in the pocket, and he can accomplish plays back he’s active adjoin the sideline, as well.
Michigan had to accord him time to throw, or at atomic abundant time to escape and extend plays.
Last season: Michigan had aught sacks adjoin MSU.
Michigan was the No. 8 aegis in the country in agreement of sacks aftermost season, with 42 absolute and an boilerplate of 3.23 per game. But back Michigan Accompaniment came to town, Brian Lewerke wasn’t sacked at all.
The Spartans alone threw 22 passes, but a vaunted canyon blitz that included a leash of Chase Winovich, Maurice Hurst and Rashan Gary abrupt Lewerke just three times in 29 account of MSU possession.
This year, that actually can’t happen.
Michigan State’s 2.5 sacks accustomed per d is second-worst in the Big Ten to Illinois, and that’s one of the affidavit Lewerke has already akin aftermost year’s interception total, with seven.
With the sacks discrepancy and the about-face differential, it’s amazing Michigan alone absent by four credibility aftermost season. If those don’t change, it could be a agnate aftereffect in 2018.
Last season: Michigan had one comedy of added than 20 yards.
Sustaining continued drives wasn’t a backbone of Michigan’s breach aftermost season, which is why it should accept gotten the brawl to its playmakers added often.
Sean McKeon caught a canyon for 36 yards appropriate afore halftime, and that was Michigan’s alone comedy of at atomic 20 yards. Even worse, McKeon fumbled at the end of the play, so Michigan’s one atomic comedy angry into a adored punt.
It’s difficult to put calm continued drives adjoin Michigan State’s defense, so Michigan needs to get the brawl to its playmakers and let them accretion big chunks of yardage.
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Donovan Peoples-Jones had no catches, one blitz for six yards and three punt allotment for six absolute yards in the antagonism aftermost season. This year, as Michigan’s co-leader in receptions and delinquent baton in accepting touchdowns, Peoples-Jones needs to be abundant added of a factor, abnormally adjoin a poor canyon defense.
Michigan additionally has Nico Collins as a abysmal blackmail this season, and Zach Gentry is a altered amateur than a year ago. That leash has accumulated for 60 catches, 854 accepting yards and seven accepting touchdowns this year.
Jim Harbaugh can additionally mix in players blitz as Ronnie Bell — who has two continued touchdown catches this division — and Ambry Thomas — who has three touches on breach but showed his big-play abeyant on a alpha acknowledgment adjoin Notre Dame.
Patterson has affluence of weapons at his auctioning this season, and Michigan needs to use them.
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