The Michigan Wolverines were one of the biggest movers following last week's collapse of the entire middle section of both main top 25 polls. For the moment, the Wolverines are technically one of the best teams among the muddy rest in what looks like one of the most parity-filled college football seasons in recent memory. They will head to Evanston to take on the Northwestern Wildcats in a game that will likely twist and turn with the ankle of Dan Persa.
Persa, he of the ill-fated Heisman campaign PersaStrong, had to pull himself out of last week's loss to the Illinois Fighting Illini after aggravating his torn right Achilles tendon. He is reportedly ready to suit up for this week's night game, but he has yet to prove that he is able to play four quarters. He has proven that he is incredibly dangerous when healthy. Before leaving Saturday's game, Persa went 10-for-14 passing for 124 yards and four touchdowns and zero interceptions. Persa's health is doubly important, with running back Mike Trumpy officially ruled out for the season.
A revitalized Wolverines squad will be favored whether or not Persa is ready. Coming off a 58-0 dismantling of the Minnesota Golden Gophers, Michigan fans have plenty of reason for optimism. Denard Robinson is still Denard Robinson, but now he has some run support behind running backs Fitzgerald Toussaint and Vincent Smith. And one of the most maligned defenses in college football over the past three seasons actually looks somewhat like the Wolverine units of yore under new defensive coordinator Greg Mattison.
Both teams have plenty prove this week: The Wolverines that they are truly ready to rejoin the elite ranks of college football, the Wildcats that they are capable of hanging with anyone as long as their trigger man remains healthy.
Game date, time: 7:00 pm ET, Saturday, October 8
Location: Ryan Field, Evanston, IL
TV channel: Big Ten Network
Spread: Michigan favored by 5½
Series history: Michigan leads, 52-15
For further reading, news, discussion and more, visit SB Nation's Michigan blog Maize 'n Brew and Northwestern blog Sippin' On Purple. Here’s this week’s college football TV schedule, and stay tuned to SB Nation’s college football news hub for more.