LB Devin Bush – With a team-high 2.5 sacks, Bush has a chance to become the first MIKE linebacker in school history to lead the Wolverines in sacks. He’s played at an All-American level this season, recording five tackles for loss and 32 tackles to rank first among Michigan defenders in the latter.
QB Shea Patterson – No Michigan quarterback has ever finished a season with a completion percentage above 70.0, and Patterson can’t possibly keep up his current conversion rate of 70.1, but he could challenge the single-season record of 65.0 (minimum 100 attempts) held by Jim Harbaugh in 1986 and Elvis Grbac in 1991.
RB Karan Higdon – Higdon ranks eighth nationally with five runs of 20 yards or more this season and is one of only two players with four 40+ yard runs in 2018. Higdon should run all over a Northwestern defense ranking 59th nationally in yards per attempt (3.89) as he looks to build on the incredible 7.9 yards per carry average he currently sports.
DE Chase Winovich – With 7.5 tackles for loss in four games, Winovich is on pace for 24 this year. He would become just the fifth Wolverine in school history to reach that milestone, and the first defensive lineman since Brandon Graham had 26 in 2009.
DE Rashan Gary – Last weekend, Gary recorded two tackles for loss or more in a game for just the fifth time in his career. He was likely on his way to a career day but sat out the entire second half (and most of the second quarter too). What will he do for an encore? Gary has never had back-to-back games with two TFL or more. Tomorrow would be a great time to start a streak.
WR Donovan Peoples-Jones – The sophomore wideout was held to just one catch on three targets a week after catching three touchdown passes, but still found a way to impact with a 60-yard punt return for a touchdown. Peoples-Jones’ six career TDs rank third on the team behind Higdon (20) and tailback Chris Evans (12).
QB Clayton Thorson (NW) – It has not been a great start for Thorson, who ranks 95th nationally with a pass efficiency rating of 119.09. Lacking big-play threats outside, he’s down to just 6.5 yards per attempt and has as many interceptions as touchdowns (three apiece). But he has a proven track record of keeping his team in games against overmatched foes, and will be called on to lead this team in the absence of running back Jeremy Larkin (who retired this week from football).
TE Zach Gentry – A big-play threat at the tight end position, Gentry has 10 career receptions of 20 yards or more (among 27 total), including four of his 10 catches this season. He leads all Wolverines in 20-yard grabs this year.
LB Paddy Fisher (NW) – Northwestern’s sophomore linebacker ranks 40th nationally with 9.3 tackles per contest, and has been everything he was billed to be before the season – a Johnny-on-the-spot that doesn’t miss tackles. He’s not a threat to get into the backfield (0.5 TFL this year) but that could change after NW coaches watch film of SMU and Nebraska attacking the line of scrimmage with their backers.
S Josh Metellus – Written off after last year and after this season’s Notre Dame game (largely his own fault after being ejected early for a targeting call), Metellus has responded with the best back-to-back performances of his career. He’s had four passes defended the past two weeks, including a pair of interceptions, and has also contributed 1.5 TFL among 10 total stops.