AP NEWS

No. 14 Michigan looks to keep rolling against Northwestern

September 27, 2018

No. 14 Michigan (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten) at Northwestern (1-2, 1-0), 4:30 p.m. ET (FOX).

Line: Michigan by 14.

Series record: Michigan leads 57-15-2.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

Michigan is rolling with three straight blowout wins. The Wolverines have outscored their past three opponents by a combined 150-33. Northwestern has dropped back-to-back home games, blowing an 18-point lead in a 39-34 loss to Akron two weeks ago. The Wildcats, who were off last week, got more bad news when leading rusher Jeremy Larkin announced Monday he was retiring from football after being diagnosed with cervical stenosis, a condition that causes narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck and upper back.

KEY MATCHUP

Michigan’s defensive line against Northwestern’s offensive line. The Wildcats simply have to protect QB Clayton Thorson from one of the nation’s top defenses, particularly with Larkin out, if they’re going to get a rare win over Michigan.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Michigan: LB Devin Bush. An All-Big Ten linebacker and finalist for the Butkus Award last season, the junior leads the team with 32 tackles and 2½ sacks and ranks second with five tackles for loss.

Northwestern: Thorson. Already Northwestern’s winningest quarterback, Thorson moved ahead of Brett Basanez and Len Williams as the school’s sole leader in touchdown passes with 47 against Akron. Thorson has been carrying more of the load at QB while working his way back from a torn ACL in his right knee, though TJ Green continues to get some time.

FACTS & FIGURES

Michigan has won five straight against Northwestern. ... Michigan ranks third in the nation and leads the Big Ten in total defense. The Wolverines are also tied for third in the country and lead the conference in pass defense. ... Northwestern hasn’t beaten a top 15 team since a victory over No. 15 Notre Dame in 2014. ... The Wildcats are seeking their first 2-0 start in Big Ten play since 2000. ... Larkin had 346 of the Wildcats’ 351 yards rushing, five of their seven TD runs and averaged 4.8 yards per carry. No. 2 RB John Moten IV has 21 yards and is averaging 1.8 per carry.

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