It seems like it’s been a year since redshirt freshman kicker Quinn Nordin hit those two 50-yard field goals in Dallas. 

Yet, it’s been just four weeks, and somehow — through a blur of scary moments and unsettling games — the Michigan football team (4-0) is still undefeated.

Now, the eighth-ranked Wolverines head into their bye week. Without a game until Oct. 7, the Daily looks outside Ann Arbor at the rest of the Big Ten.

Here’s a breakdown of what Michigan’s future opponents are up to this weekend:

Michigan State (2-1)

When do they play Michigan? Oct. 7

Next Opponent: Iowa (3-1)

Despite moving the ball for nearly 500 yards of offense, the Spartans were handed their first loss last weekend against Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish scored 21 points off three Michigan State turnovers (one pick-six and two fumbles), and in addition to giving up 97 yards in penalties, the Spartans were doing little to help themselves. 

Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke, now a true sophomore, has four touchdowns and two interceptions this season. His next opponent, Iowa, has allowed nearly 250 passing yards every game, which is exactly what Lewerke averages so far. If the young Spartan quarterback cleans up the mistakes, Michigan State should be able to ride out a win at home before they come play at the Big House.

Indiana (2-1)

When do they play Michigan? Oct. 14

Next Opponent: No. 4 Penn State (4-0)

The Hoosiers inevitably got thrown to the bottom of the dog pile when they opened their season against Ohio State. Indiana has had two comfortable wins since playing the Buckeyes, but they’ve also become riddled with injuries.

Against a top-five team like Penn State, that will be an issue.

Quarterback Richard Lagow left last weekend’s game early with a leg injury, but the main cause for concern is on defense. The Hoosiers lost three starters in their win over Georgia Southern: cornerback A’Shon Riggins, defensive back Marcelino Ball and defensive tackle Nate Hoff.

All three are questionable for this weekend, which significantly reduces their chances against the Nittany Lions, who average 496 yards per game.

No. 4 Penn State (4-0)

When do they play Michigan? Oct. 21

Next Opponent: Indiana (3-1)

The Nittany Lions are living up to all the offseason hype since last year’s Rose Bowl, and the credit is due to running back Saquon Barkley. Though it’s still early in the season, Barkley is the Heisman frontrunner and a potential No. 1 draft pick.

He leads his team in both rushing and receiving yards with 518 and 335, respectively. Barkley has six total touchdowns — four on the ground and two in the passing game. Few teams, certainly not Indiana, will be able to stop him.

And even if a team can find a way to halt the running back, it would still have to deal with Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley. McSorley has thrown for over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns, completing 66 percent of his passes.

It would take a miracle for a handful of Indiana second-string defensive players to stop the runaway train that is Barkley, McSorley and Penn State.

Rutgers (1-3)

When do they play Michigan? Oct. 28

Next Opponent: No. 11 Ohio State (3-1)

It was actually a decent weekend by Rutgers’ standards during a 27-17 road loss to Nebraska. For starters, the Scarlet Knights didn’t get blown out. A pick-six from Rutgers defensive back Kiy Hester gave Rutgers a lead in the third quarter, but Nebraska rallied to come back for the win.

It was the Scarlet Knights’ 15th consecutive Big Ten loss. No. 16 will likely come this Saturday against Ohio State.

Rutgers quarterback Kyle Bolin has thrown six interceptions and just three touchdowns so far. His performance might give true freshman quarterback Johnathan Lewis a fair amount of playing time against the Buckeyes.

Lewis, a dual-threat quarterback, handled the majority of the workload in Rutgers’ sole win over Morgan State, but besides that, he hasn’t taken many snaps.

Ohio States’ defense would be Lewis’ biggest test yet. But why not play him? There’s nowhere to go but up for Rutgers. 

Minnesota (3-0)

When do they play Michigan? November 4

Next Opponent: Maryland (2-1)

New coach P.J. Fleck has the boat rowing in Minneapolis. The Golden Gophers have won three straight games, including a dominant win over Pac-12 opponent Oregon State.

The Golden Gophers’ best offensive threat is their depth in the run game. Running back Shannon Brooks leads the team with four rushing touchdowns, but Minnesota has done well in rotating the tailbacks. Its other running backs, Kobe McCrary and Rodney Smith, have over 100 yards on the season and have combined for four touchdowns between the two of them. 

Michigan’s former defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin coaches Minnesota’s next opponent, Maryland. The Gophers’ rush offense against the Terrapins’ rush defense should make for a decisive battle on Saturday.

Maryland (2-1)

When do they play Michigan? Nov. 11

Next Opponent: Minnesota (3-0)

It’s a bad year to be a quarterback at Maryland.

Just three weeks after starting quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome tore his ACL against Texas, the Terrapins’ backup, freshman Kasim Hill, suffered the same injury. Neither will return this season.

The injuries dampened what was once a great start to the 2017 campaign, which included a big win on the road at then-No. 23 Texas.

Now, the Terrapins will turn the reigns over to sophomore Max Bortenschlager, the only healthy scholarship quarterback left on the roster.

No. 10 Wisconsin (3-0)

When do they play Michigan? Nov. 18

Next Opponent: Northwestern (2-1)

True freshman running back Jonathan Taylor leads the Big Ten with five rushing touchdowns. He broke out against Florida Atlantic for 223 rushing yards and three scores and followed that up with another 100-yard outing on the road against Brigham Young.

At quarterback, Wisconsin’s Alex Hornibrook has shown major improvements from last season.

Last year, Hornibrook threw nine touchdowns and seven interceptions with just a 58-percent completion rate. Through three games this year, he has eight touchdowns and only one interception and has completed 70 percent of his passes.

The Badgers are a 15.5-point favorite over Northwestern, and should come away with another big win if all goes according to plan. For a second straight year, the Big Ten West really is Wisconsin’s to lose.

No. 11 Ohio State (3-1)

When do they play Michigan? Nov. 25

Next Opponent: Rutgers (1-3)

Yes, the Buckeyes are going to beat Rutgers. See you next week.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *