Wolver­ines put win streak on line

Windsor Star - - SPORTS - LARRY LAGE

No. 12 Michi­gan is un­de­feated since open­ing with a seven-point loss at Notre Dame, build­ing mo­men­tum and con­fi­dence while wait­ing for its next op­por­tu­nity to earn an im­pres­sive win.

The Wolver­ines (5-1, 3-0 Big Ten) won’t have to wait much longer. No. 15 Wis­con­sin (4-1, 2-0) is com­ing to play un­der the lights Satur­day night at the Big House in what may prove to be a piv­otal game in the con­fer­ence’s cham­pi­onship race. “Ev­ery­body knew that this was go­ing to be a big game from the be­gin­ning of the year,” Michi­gan guard Ben Bre­deson said. “The Bad­gers are al­ways good. We’re al­ways good.”

The Bad­gers have been great in Big Ten play dur­ing reg­u­lar sea­son, win­ning a record 17 straight, but they’re eight-point un­der­dogs. “We get to find out who we are as a team against one of the best teams on our sched­ule,” Wis­con­sin safety D’Cota Dixon said. “It will be fun. It will be ex­cit­ing. It will be a chal­lenge.”

Michi­gan will know a lot more about its team soon af­ter host­ing the Bad­gers, play­ing at Michi­gan State and fac­ing No. 8 Penn State in its next three games. “This is an im­por­tant stretch for our sea­son,” Bre­deson ac­knowl­edged. “I think every­one is a lot tighter this week, mak­ing sure that all the de­tails are in or­der and that noth­ing is be­ing left be­hind.” Here are some things to watch: Star sopho­more Jonathan Tay­lor

■ draws most of the at­ten­tion in the back­field as the na­tion’s lead­ing rusher, av­er­ag­ing 169.8 yards per game. His back­ups aren’t too bad. Gar­rett Groshek has emerged as Wis­con­sin’s pri­mary third-down back and a key player in two-minute sit­u­a­tions.

The for­mer quar­ter­back is third

■ on the team in both rush­ing and re­ceiv­ing. Tai­wan Deal can also pro­vide valu­able snaps to spell Tay­lor. He ran for a sea­son high 74 yards on 10 car­ries last week against Ne­braska, in­clud­ing a ca­reer-best 20-yard touch­down run.

Michi­gan coach Jim Har­baugh, ■ who has run his share of unique plays, said he scouts what trick plays an op­pos­ing coach has run in pre­vi­ous years. “Of­fen­sively and de­fen­sively, schemat­i­cally, you pre­pare for things, even though you haven’t seen them,” he said. “You’re al­ways on the alert for what could hap­pen.” In­juries are pil­ing up in Wis­con­sin’s

■ young sec­ondary. Corner­backs Cae­sar Wil­liams and Tra­vian Blay­lock missed last week’s game with leg in­juries, and Deron Har­rell left the Ne­braska game in the sec­ond quar­ter with a head in­jury. They’re all listed as ques­tion­able. Some Michi­gan fans have been

■ crit­i­cal of Shea Pat­ter­son on so­cial me­dia, and Har­baugh chose to dif­fuse the sit­u­a­tion by sid­ing with his daugh­ter’s anal­y­sis of the quar­ter­back. “Let me put it to you this way: My seven-year-old daugh­ter Katie, who plays no sports,” Har­baugh said.

“Doesn’t want to play sports. Doesn’t want to be in­volved in sports. She’s do­ing Girl Scouts. Even Katie says the quar­ter­back is play­ing very well.”

What about the crit­ics who say the of­fence isn’t in­ter­est­ing ? “I’ll go with Katie,” Har­baugh said.

Shea Pat­ter­son

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