5 Players to Watch Against Northwestern

5 Players to Watch Against Northwestern

Football

5 Players to Watch Against Northwestern

Michigan goes on the road for the first time since their week one loss to Notre Dame as they travel to play Northwestern in Big Ten football as both teams are 1-0 in conference play. Michigan is on a three-game win streak since losing week one to Notre Dame, while Northwestern is on a two-game losing streak since winning their opening game against Purdue. Both teams will be looking to stay undefeated in Big Ten play this week. Here are my five players to watch for this week.

1. RB Karan Higdon – Michigan

After missing week three against SMU, Karan Higdon returned last week against Nebraska in splendid fashion with 136 rushing yards and a touchdown. Northwestern allows an average of 129.6 rushing yards this season so Higdon will have his work possibly cut out for him.

Northwestern didn’t get a sack against Akron two weeks ago, and while that is attacking the quarterback over the running back as they are different, it could mean that Northwestern can’t penetrate through the line, as the offensive line might be able to make some holes easily.

Backup running back Chris Evans might return this week after missing last week’s game against Nebraska and his return could see how much time on the field Higdon plays, even though Higdon is the clear number one, Evan still has a role on this offense.

2. RB John Moten IV – Northwestern

When starting running back Jeremy Larkin retired due to medical reasons, the job was handed to John Moten IV. Moten IV only has 12 carries this year for 21 yards and a touchdown. His carries are about to increase and so is his role in the offense.

Losing Larkin is something Northwestern is going to have to get over quickly and Moten is going to be looked at as the replacement as they hope he can turn into what Larkin was, but it won’t be that easy.

Moten IV could have a breakout game as he could be out to prove the doubters wrong and show that even without Larkin, Northwestern can still win football games and run the football. The problem is though, he plays Michigan this week. Michigan is the third-ranked defense in the NCAA and the best in the Big Ten and rushing the ball won’t be easy as Michigan allows an average of 101 rushing yards per game.

3. WR Donovan Peoples-Jones – Michigan

With the top wide receiver Tarik Black out for some time with an injury, Michigan needed a wide receiver to step up and Donovan Peoples-Jones did just that. He exploded with a big game over SMU with four catches for 90 yards and three touchdowns.

He was quiet last week against Nebraska playing wide receiver with one catch for 10 yards, but at punt returner, he did great with three returns for 77 yards with one of them being a 60-yard return for a touchdown.

Northwestern allows an average of 250.3 passing yards per game this season so Peoples-Jones could have some success after being held down last week, but he could also hurt you returning punts and that will be something else Northwestern will have to be careful with.

4. QB Clayton Thorson – Northwestern

The winningest quarterback in Northwestern history will have a big challenge this week. With his favorite weapon in Larkin now out, he is the lone playmaker on the offense and he will have to create some big plays now for the Wildcats offense.

Thorson has 753 passing yards with three touchdowns and interceptions, but facing the number three defense in college football, they won’t come easy and looking at how Nebraska had issues last week, it should keep the Wildcats nervous.

They are at home so they will have that advantage, but Thorson will need everything going his way if he wants to spoil the Wolverines season. Thorson might not even play the whole game as backup quarterback TJ Green has seen playing time in every game this season.

5. S Khaleke Hudson – Michigan

Two weeks in a row safety Khaleke Hudson will only play the second half. He was ejected in the second half against SMU for targeting, meaning he was suspended for the rest of that game and the first half of their next game. Their next game against Nebraska, Hudson came in the second half and while Michigan was up big, Hudson was still playing and once again, he was struck with targeting call and was ejected.

So we only will have another half of Hudson, but the question is what will Harbaugh do with him? If Michigan is in a close game then you would expect Hudson to return to the game in the third quarter and finish it off. If Michigan is up by a lot though, is it worth playing Hudson?

Hudson was playing with the backups last week, and I would assume it was to let him play since he missed the first half. So could Hudson only play one quarter this week if Michigan is up big, or could he finish it off? Harbaugh will make that call come the third quarter.

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