The No. 7 Michigan Wolverines (4-0, 1-0) are all rested up after their bye week and are ready to continue their pursuit of a conference championship. In order to keep their momentum going this week, they’ll have to get past their in-state rivals, the Michigan State Spartans, in the 110th matchup between the two teams.
The Spartans (3-1, 1-0) have bounced back well after going 3-9 last year. Much of that has been thanks to quarterback Brian Lewerke. The redshirt-sophomore has thrown for 963 yards and eight touchdowns while also leading the team with 248 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Outside of him, junior L.J. Scott takes on the majority of the workload on the ground having gained 214 yards and a touchdown on a team-high 58 carries. They also have senior Gerald Holmes and junior Madre London, both of whom have at least 95 rushing yards and 27 carries. The two also have significant roles in the passing game.
The receiving core is full of dangerous threats, none more dangerous than junior Felton Davis III whose 21 catches, 256 yards and four touchdowns are all best on the team. Following him is sophomore Darrel Stewart Jr. who has 17 catches for 170 yards and a touchdown. Stewart Jr. also has 101 rushing yards on 10 carries. The core is rounded out by sophomore Trishton Jackson (9 catches, 121 yards) and junior tight end Matt Sokol (8 catches, 107 yards, 1 touchdown)
Players to Watch
Ever since John O’Korn transferred in from Houston, it always seemed like he couldn’t quite take the next step and become the bonafide starting quarterback for the maize and blue. After the game against Purdue, there’s reason to believe he’s done it.
After Wilton Speight left the game with what reports say was broke vertebrae, the fifth-year senior made 18 completions for a touchdown and 270 yards, more than Speight had thrown in any game this season.
Even if Wilton comes back healthy in the near future, which seems doubtful, O’Korn might still be at the helm of the Wolverines’ offense for the foreseeable future. Of course, he’ll need to show that he can continue to put up similar numbers on a consistent basis.
Ever since the season started, the sophomore linebacker from Florida has been just one of the many reasons why Michigan’s defense hasn’t slowed down a bit since losing 10 of its 11 starters from a year ago.
However, Bush is about to be tested by a Michigan State offense that features a legitimate dual-threat quarterback in Brian Lewerke, something he, nor this Michigan defense, is very familiar with. As such, it will be important for him to stay alert for times when Lewerke could use his legs to extend plays.
During the 2016 season, Sean McKeon would only see the field during garbage time getting just two catches for 10 yards over the course of that season, while then-senior Jake Butt took on practically all the duties as the starting tight end.
It’s amazing what can change after a year.
Following Butt’s graduation, the sophomore tight end has had more of a chance to showcase himself. Against Purdue, McKeon had team highs in catches (five) and receiving yards (82) for the first time in his career.
With the offense undergoing several changes and still trying to organize things, it will be interesting to see how McKeon, whose 120 receiving yards this season are third best on the team, will factor into Michigan’s offense going forward.
The game can be seen this Saturday, Oct. 7 at 7:30 p.m. on ABC.