Michigan football vs. Northwestern: by the numbers, preview, score predictions

·6 min read

Michigan football hosts the Northwestern Wildcats on Saturday at noon EDT after coming off of a bye week. This week, we’re combining the ‘by the numbers’ article with the staff predictions. You can find most of how each team ranks from a statistical standpoint, and then the players to watch and the WolverinesWire staff predictions on the next page.


Rank (metric)

Rank (metric)

Michigan scoring offense

14th (38.5 ppg)

61st (23.8 ppg)

Northwestern scoring defense

Michigan rushing offense

6th (246.5 ypg)

118th (206.17 ypga)

Northwestern rushing defense

Michigan passing offense

103rd (194 ypg)

42nd (205.2 ypga)

Northwestern passing defense

Michigan total offense

39th (440.5 ypg)

94th (411.13 ypga)

Northwestern total defense

Michigan yards per play

26th (6.53 ypp)

95th (5.86 ypga)

Northwestern yards per play allowed

Michigan first downs

68th (21 pg)

66th (19.8 apg)

Northwestern opp. first downs

Michigan third down conv.

45th (43.04%)

55th (37.21%)

Northwestern opp. third down conv.

Michigan fourth down conv.

29th (66.67%)

45th (44.44%)

Northwestern opp. fourth down conv.

Michigan red zone conv.

6th (97.56%)

53rd (80%)

Northwestern opp. red zone conv.

Michigan sacks allowed

1st (0.33 sapg)

64th (2.33 spg)

Northwestern sacks

Michigan TFL allowed

1st (2.17 tfla/gm)

98th (5.33 tfl/gm)

Northwestern TFL

Michigan long scrimmage plays

111th (72 10+ yd plays)

34th (76 10+ yd plays)

Northwestern long plays allowed

Michigan penalties

35th (46.2 yds/gm)

48th (57.7 yds/gm)

Northwestern opp. penalties

Michigan TOP

25th (31:38.00)

57th (29:57.67)

Northwestern TOP


Predicting every Big Ten football game in Week 8


Rank (metric)

Rank (metric)

Michigan scoring defense

8th (15.5 ppg)

110th (21.8 ppg)

Northwestern scoring offense

Michigan rushing defense

33rd (119.33 ypga)

54th (171.33 ypg)

Northwestern rushing offense

Michigan passing defense

22nd (190.7 ypga)

95th (203.3 ypg)

Northwestern passing offense

Michigan total defense

20th (310 ypga)

84th (374.7 ypg)

Northwestern total offense

Michigan yards per play allowed

26th (4.91 yppa)

96th (5.2 ypp)

Northwestern yards per play

Michigan opp. first downs

19th (16.5 apg)

89th (20 pg)

Northwestern first downs

Michigan opp. third down conv.

31st (34.09%)

74th (39.13%)

Northwestern third down conv.

Michigan opp. fourth down conv.

34th (38.46%)

68h (50%)

Northwestern fourth down conv.

Michigan opp. red zone conv.

68th (83.33%)

122nd (69.18%)

Northwestern red zone conv.

Michigan sacks

64th (2.33 s/gm)

58th (2.17 sa/gm)

Northwestern sacks allowed

Michigan TFL

102nd (5.17 tfl/gm)

75th (6.5 tfla/gm)

Northwestern TFL allowed

Michigan long scrimmage plays allowed

7th (61 10+ yd plays)

111h (72 10+ yd plays)

Northwestern long plays

Michigan opp. penalties

116th (40 yd/gm)

26th (44.2 yd/gm)

Northwestern penalties

Michigan turnover margin

9th (+1/gm)

63rd (0/gm)

Northwestern turnover margin


ESPN FPI: Michigan football game-by-game predictions after Week 4

Special teams

Rank (metric)

Rank (metric)

Michigan kickoff

47th (63.29 yds)

35th (60.64 yds)

Northwestern opp. kickoff

Michigan kickoff return

59th (20.93 yds/ret)

41st (19.06 yds/ret)

Northwestern kickoff return allowed

Michigan punting

39th (45.11 yds/p)

99th (44.35 yds/p)

Northwestern opp. punting

Michigan punt return

22nd (13.07 yds/ret)

70th (7.5 yds/ret)

Northwestern punt return allowed

Michigan field goals

18th (92.3%)

6th (50%)

Northwestern opp. field goals

Michigan PAT

1st (100%)

64th (100%)

Northwestern opp. PAT

Michigan opp. kickoff

5th (57.77 yds)

77th (62 yds)

Northwestern kickoff

Michigan kickoff return allowed

1st (8.75 yds/ret)

127th (12.86 yds/ret)

Northwestern kickoff return

Michigan opp. punting

112th (45.24 yds/p)

75th (42.68 yds/p)

Northwestern punting

Michigan punt return allowed

28th (4 yds/ret)

3rd (19.18 yds/ret)

Northwestern punt return

Michigan opp. field goals

50h (71.4%)

125th (50%)

Northwestern field goals

Michigan opp. PAT

64th (100%)

1st (100%)

Northwestern PAT

NEXT PAGE: Players to look out for, final predictions

Players to know


Stats to Know


Ryan Hilinski

57/99 (57.6%), 645 yds, 3 TD, 0 INT

Running Back

Evan Hull

95 car, 562 yds (5.92 ypc), 4 TD (93.67 ypg)

Wide Receivers

Stephon Robinson Jr.

Malik Washington

Bryce Kirtz

28 catches, 424 yds (15.14 ypc), 2 TD

18 catches, 255 yds (14.17 ypc), 2 TD

19 catches, 203 yds (10.68 ypc), 0 TD

Leading Tacklers

LB Chris Bergin

S Brandon Joseph

LB Bryce Gallagher

63 tackles

40 tackles

38 tackles

Sacks Leaders

DL Jeremy Meiser

DL Adetomiwa Adebawore

DL Jeffrey Pooler Jr.

4.0 sacks, 20 yds

3.5 sacks, 20 yds

2.5 sacks, 13 yds

TFL Leaders

DL Adetomiwa Adebawore

DL Jeremy Meiser

DL Jeffrey Pooler Jr.

7 TFL, 34 yds

6 TFL, 22 yds

3 TFL, 14 yds

Most passes broken up

A.J. Hampton Jr.


Interception Leaders

S Brandon Joseph

LB Chris Bergin

LB Bryce Gallagher

1 INT, 26 yds

1 INT, 0 yds

1 INT, 0 yds

Field Goals

K Charlie Kuhbander

4/8 FG attempts


P Derek Adams

42.38 yds/punt

Punt Returns

Brandon Joseph

Raymond Niro III

4 ret, 114 yds (28.5 avg)

4 ret, 68 yds (17 avg)


3 keys to a Michigan football victory vs. Northwestern


Trent Knoop

I really don’t see how Northwestern will be able to stir up enough offense to come into the Big House and defeat Michigan on Saturday. The Wildcats look really average, at most, on the offensive side of the ball — even with Ryan Hilinski in at quarterback. I will say that Evan Hull has had a good year so far, but he will be going up against a rock-solid Michigan defensive line.

On the other side of the ball, I don’t see how NU can stop the Michigan running attack. This will arguably the toughest competition Northwestern has faced in terms of stopping the run, and it hasn’t handled run defense well so far, so why would it now? I think Corum and Haskins has a huge day. I think Michigan wins pretty big and we see plenty of backups get a shot in on Saturday.

  • Michigan runs for over 350 yards

  • McNamara throws two touchdowns

  • Michigan 38, Northwestern 14


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Isaiah Hole

This is kind of a weird game, in that, to look at the stats above, on paper, the two teams a very similar, save for Northwestern’s run defense, while Michigan is also more explosive running the ball. But, outside of those things, they look relatively similar on paper.

Except, the Wildcats have struggled mightily all season, whereas the Wolverines have mostly dominated all year.

Ryan Hilinski appears to be playing better than Hunter Johnson at quarterback, even though the stats aren’t significantly better. Still, he’s getting better every week. The wide receiver production is also something to be wary of. On defense, Northwestern appears to just straight-up allow what Michigan does on offense, so barring a drastic change, expect the Wolverines to run the ball with impunity while it passes off of that.

Basically, regardless of what the stats above say, if Michigan doesn’t dominate, something went wrong.

  • Michigan gets 500 yards of total offense

  • The defense forces three Wildcats turnovers

  • Michigan 38, Northwestern 14

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