The last two meeting between the Michigan Wolverines and Northwestern Wildcats have been intriguing and suspenseful. In 2012, the Wildcats blew a double-digit lead in the second half when Michigan used a Hail Mary to set up a field goal to send the game into overtime, and a Devin Gardner touchdown run sealed the game. Last season, in Evanston, it looked like time was going to run out on the Wolverines when kicker Brendan Gibbons booted in a field goal to send the game into overtime yet again. Michigan would win 27-19 in three overtimes.
Check out those 2012 highlights to lift your spirits:
And why not, check out 2013’s highlights too:
It will once again be a matchup between Devin Gardner and Trevor Siemian—like in 2013—this Saturday in Evanston. Neither quarterback played particularly well in last year’s meeting, but Siemian did not toss a touchdown to match his lone interception, while Gardner did throw for a touchdown and no interceptions.
Both teams are struggling down the stretch of the season. Michigan of course got a win last weekend against Indiana on homecoming, but given the current state of the Hoosiers’ program, it’s difficult to say just how impressive that win really was. On the other hand, Northwestern was just embarrassed on the road by Iowa in a 48-7 loss.
This game can go in one of two directions for Northwestern. Either the Wildcats are completely falling apart and last week was a major domino in the demise of the 2014 season, or they’ll come back home fired up after taking that beating and play Michigan like their lives depend on it.
In a sense, both programs’ “lives” do depend on this game. Both teams are sitting on five losses and are in need of a bit of a hot steak in order to finish the season strongly and become bowl eligible. After this week, though, the road becomes difficult. The Wildcats will travel to Notre Dame and Purdue before hosting Illinois to wrap up the season, and Michigan will play at home against Maryland before traveling to Columbus in the regular season finale. The loser of this contest is going to have an extremely tough time getting into a bowl game this season.
Michigan and Northwestern rank 107th and 116th respectively in points per game. That’s not good. Not good at all. On the other side of the ball, though, this 2014 season hasn’t been bad at all. The Wildcats aren’t making it look easy with 388 yards allowed per game, but teams are only scoring 23.9 points per game. Michigan’s defense ranks near the top in total defense with 304 yards allowed per game.
What does that mean? Well, with both offenses showing very little signs of life this late in the season, it’s unfair to expect either team to magically bring it all together this Saturday, meaning it could very well be another defensive battle, very similar to the game we saw last season, probably minus a few points.
Tyler Fenwick is the managing editor of TheBigHouseReport.com. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.