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View from the other side: Michigan beat writer previews the matchup with the Badgers
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View from the other side: Michigan beat writer previews the matchup with the Badgers

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Michigan Indiana Football

Michigan wide receiver Cornelius Johnson (6) catches a pass for a touchdown last week against Indiana. 

Aaron McMann is the Michigan football beat reporter for MLive Media Group, which publishes newspapers across the state of Michigan. The Redford, Mich., native and Central Michigan University graduate gives his thoughts on the Wolverines’ matchup on Saturday against No. 13 Wisconsin.

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McMann

You can follow his work here and follow him on Twitter (@AaronMcMann).

Which offensive player must have success for Michigan to beat the Badgers?

The obvious answer here is Joe Milton, just because he's the quarterback and the one that touches the ball most often. But I'm going to pick an entire position group instead: the running backs. Michigan failed to rush the football last week in its loss to Indiana (13 carries, 18 yards) and it made them a one-dimensional team. Their offense isn't experienced enough to win solely by throwing the football, so it's going to need its stable of backs (they use four fairly regularly) to hit some big runs and open things up. Otherwise, Michigan isn't going to win this game.

Which defensive player must have success for Michigan to beat the Badgers?

Vincent Gray, Michigan's redshirt sophomore cornerback. He's struggled mightily in the Wolverines' previous two games -- and opponents have taken note. Michigan State went after him early and often two weeks ago and Indiana did the same, throwing over top of him when he was in man-coverage. He's still young and in his first year starting, so Michigan believes there's plenty of growth to be had. But for the Wolverines to remain competitive in this game, they're going to need Gray (and their secondary) to avoid giving up the deep ball.

Which Wolverines player has surprised you the most this season?

True freshman receiver Roman Wilson. We knew Michigan was going to play all six of its scholarship receivers, but Wilson (8 catches, 118 yards, TD) has been a pleasant surprise through three games. He's been reliable and gets open, making him Joe Milton's No. 3 option at this point.

What’s the feeling of the job Jim Harbaugh is doing at Michigan?

I guess it depends on which group of people you're talking to. Fans are growing impatient with the lack of progress (still no Big Ten titles or playoff appearances to speak of), but Michigan's administration seems content. Harbaugh still wins a lot of games, brings plenty of attention to the program, fills stadiums and brings the athletic department revenue. From a business sense, he's a winner. The on-field product, however, is a different story. He has about 14 months left on his original contract, so the next six months to a year are going to be telling.

Prediction for the game and why?

I think Wisconsin wins this game, and comfortably. Between the struggling secondary, its lack of pass rush (which took another hit this week with DE Aidan Hutchinson sidelined indefinitely due to injury) and a running game in shambles at the moment, Michigan just isn't a very good team. Wisconsin has had a long layoff, and I'm curious to see how that affects them, but there's an experience edge and talent gap between the two teams at the moment that favors the Badgers. Wisconsin 31, Michigan 17.


Who has the edge when the Badgers visit Michigan?

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