Michigan football is back this week, after what seemed like an eternity, from a mid-season bye. The Wolverines will host the Fighting Illini at the Big House in search of a seventh straight victory. Bye weeks are not fun for us fans, but it does allow players to get some rest and heal up some minor injuries. Hopefully the team is all refreshed and ready to continue its run to the Big Ten championship and the College Football Playoff. Here is some vital info with things to watch for this week:
No. 3 Michigan (6-0, 3-0) vs. Illinois (2-4, 1-2)
Kickoff: 3:30 PM
Where to Watch: Big Ten Network
Odds: Michigan favored by 38
What To Watch For
A Familiar Face
Michigan has been missing one of its more productive running backs on the field. This summer, Drake Johnson was hit by a fork lift (yes, that was real) and has not been game ready—until this week. He was back practicing and is expected to see some game time this weekend. Johnson is a strong, shifty and speedy runner that will add to an already impressive running back group. Last year, he was an exciting guy to watch, and he’s a back that always falls forward when tackled. During the 2015 season he scored six times in nine games, including two touchdowns vs. Florida in the bowl game. I am happy that he is well enough to play and it will be great to see him run again. The only problem: how will carries be divided up between Johnson, Smith, Issac, Evans, Higdon and Hill? That is a tough call for Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Tim Drevno. But who better to make the decision? Whatever happens, one thing I am sure of is that they will be successful!
Since the Rutgers game, talk of Jabrill Peppers’ chance at winning the Heisman trophy has increased tremendously. He is one of the most gifted athletes in college football. No, he does not have the interceptions or the high number of offensive touchdowns (yet), but he is one of the most valuable players on this Michigan team. He can fill in at so many different positions, as we have seen plenty so far this year. I don’t think Harbaugh has even opened up the whole playbook of sets that feature Peppers. We will see more of him on offense as the season goes and he will continue to find the end zone in all three phases of the game. This week, I expect him to have several opportunities for punt return scores, notching 10 tackles, a sack and one more offensive touchdown. #JP5forHeisman
There still is an uncertainty about who will be the field goal kicker for the rest of the season. Kenny Allen has missed 4 out of his last 5 attempts, Tice has missed his only attempt and Nordin has not seen the field. All are said to look good in practice, but no one has been able to pull away in the starting kicker race. Who will step up this week if called upon? Allen will more than likely get the first shot, but if he misses, expect one of the others to get a chance to win this competition.
The Michigan football team as a whole is playing at an extremely high level. They are in the playoff conversation with the media, and they just won a game 78-0. When you are praised and put on a pedestal, sometimes that can get to your head. Your ego becomes big and maybe a little over confident. My hope for this team is that this does not happen this week, since they are favored by so many points. Stay humble, Michigan! You have not won any titles yet, so stay hungry for a dominant victory each and every week. It was reported that Jabrill Peppers gives himself a “C” for the first half of the season. I love that. That means he is humble, and knows there is room for improvement. If all the players can have this mentality, the Wolverines can win it all. During this game we will watch and see if they play with a overinflated ego, or a hunger to improve.
Visitors at the Big House
- 4-star Defensive tackle Jay Tufele from Utah.
- 4-star Defensive tackle Donovan Jeter from Pennsylvania who is a recent Notre Dame decommitment.
- 4-star Linebacker Willie Gay from Mississippi that is an Ole Miss commit.
- 3-star Cornerback Matt Hankins from Texas.
- 3-star Safety Jordan Ulmer from Michigan.
- 4-star Offensive lineman Kai-Leon Herbert from Florida will be there on his official visit according to his Twitter account.
- 3-star Offensive lineman Phillip Paea from Michigan.
This weekend is Homecoming for Michigan, so it will be wonderful to get a dominant victory on this special event. See you next week Michigan fans!