This game, for Michigan, is very similar to last week's in that they are playing a team on the rise. And last week, Michigan was unable to rise to the challenge, losing to Penn State 31-41. It was yet another disappointing outing for the Wolverine defense, but Denard Robinson found his rythem again.
For Illinois, they are coming off of a blow-out win against Purdue last week, and that put them at five wins. If they were to win in Ann Arbor this week, that would make the Fighting Illini bowl eligible.
Where does the momentum come from if you're Michigan? Well, it comes from the fact that Denard Robinson came back against the Nittany Lions for right up near 200 yards passing and rushing each. Plus, as of Thursday, Michigan's investigation for exceeding practice hours will be dropped by the NCAA. This is an excellent opportunity to make a huge jump forward.
Looking at the big picture here, if Michigan can jump out to an early lead, that could prove to be fatal towards the Illini. In the last two games, Michigan has sparked fourth quarter rallies that have fallen short due to a horrible defense. Jumping out early would hopefully mean they would be able to carry that momentum through the rest of the game.
How to win if you are Illinois: Run the ball! Even though they are going up against arguably the worst pass defense in the nation, Illinois is one of the worst passing teams. They are only averaging 143 yards through the air a game. However, when it comes to running the ball, the Illini are ranked 24th in the nation, averaging near 200 yards per game. And of course, Michigan hasn't been able to stop the run all year either. It doesn't just stop at running the ball, though. That defense has to try to contain Denard Robinson, and keep everything in front of them. Don't give up the long ball; make them drive down the field.
My prediction: This is very hard to say. If Michigan can find an early rhythm, anything can happen. As we've seen before, once Denard Robinson gets going, it's like trying to tell Brett Farve to retire. He won't go down! However, if Michigan is unable to find that crucial early rhythm, I like Illinois chances in this one. Either way, this game will go down to the fourth quarter. So, if I had to put money on it, I would say Illinois leaves with a win, 42-35.