Top 10 Players: Michigan vs. Western Michigan

Michigan and Western Michigan are set to kick off at noon today, and we take a look at the 10 best players in the game.

1. Shea Patterson, QB, Michigan - After Syracuse QB Eric Dungey racked up 384 yards of total offense and three touchdowns against Western Michigan, including five completions of 20 yards or more against the Broncos, Patterson should be able to inject even more offense into the Michigan passing attack after throwing for 227 yards in his U-M debut last weekend.

2. Chase Winovich, DE, Michigan - Winovich's speed off the edge and relentlessness were on display in the Wolverines' seven-point loss to Notre Dame as he racked up a team-high three tackles for loss and, according to ProFootballFocus.com, led the nation with 10 total QB pressures. Winovich was flagged for a roughing the passer that led to a first down (and eventually a touchdown) but he was, by far, Michigan's best player on the field in Week 1.

3. Devin Bush, LB, Michigan: Recovering from an early miscue that led to a critical first-down run on 3rd-and-6, Bush did what Bush does - menacing the opposing offense with his combination of speed and brute force. The junior middle linebacker finished with seven tackles, including 1.5 sacks. Incredibly, Bush has recorded at least one sack in each of four career starts against non-conference foes, and has 5.5 total. He should add to that tally today.

4. Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan - According to an article on TheMichiganInsider.com, Gary graded out as the 11th best defensive end in the country in week one. He was responsible for a QB hurry and did a good job sealing the edge against the Irish (QB Brandon Wimbush's success on the ground was not a result of missed assignments by Gary). Syracuse didn't put a ton of pressure on WMU quarterback Jon Wassink - the Orange had just one sack and were not credited with an official QB hurry - but Gary and Winovich will challenge the Western OL to keep Wassink upright.

5. Karan Higdon, RB, Michigan - The senior tailback didn't have an eye-popping start to his 2018 season - though his 72 yards rushing did mark a career high in a campaign opener - but he was good for five first downs among his 21 carries, and scored the Wolverines' lone offensive touchdown, on a three-yard plunge late in the fourth quarter. In six games in his career in which Higdon has rushed for 70 yards or more, he has averaged 93.2 yards the following week, and with WMU ceding 334 yards on the ground to Syracuse -- albeit 200 to QB Dungey -- Higdon should be in line for a big game.

6. Khaleke Hudson, Viper, Michigan - After leading the team in tackles for loss with 18.5 in 2017, the junior had an inauspicious start to his junior season, recording just three stops in the 'L' to Notre Dame. That's not to say Hudson wasn't active. He blew up a running play in the second quarter with his speed off the edge, and found himself in the backfield on numerous occasions (usually just one more step away from causing true chaos). Facing an opponent that cannot consistently match Hudson for athleticism, the 6-0, 220-pounder should make his presence felt today.

7. D’Wayne Eskridge, WR, Western Michigan - Though not very big at 5-9, 185 pounds, the junior played big in last week's opener, hauling in eight receptions on 12 targets for 220 yards and two touchdowns. He had TD catches of 21 and 84 yards and added 25- and 59-yard grabs. Michigan struggled with the deep ball against ND, yielding receptions of 26, 26, 28 and 43 yards (one of the 26-yarders was called back on an ineligible downfield), and Eskridge will certainly look to take advantage of the Wolverines' biggest perceived weakness: safety play.

8. Chris Evans, RB, Michigan - The misuse of Evans last week was one of the biggest mysteries - he didn't touch the ball until 10:17 of the third quarter and his four total offensive touches (two runs for one yards and two catches for 37 yards) tied a career low for him, matching the four total touches he had as a freshman against Michigan State in 2016. Evans has averaged 10.4 touches and 60.6 offensive yards per game since that MSU contest so I would expect him to receive more chances today.

9. Jon Wassink, QB, Western Michigan - Wassink threw for 379 yards and accounted for four touchdowns in last week's defeat to Syracuse. That is, by far, the best he's ever done against a Power 5 conference team, averaging just 73.0 yards in two starts in 2017 and completing only 45.8 percent of his passes in games against Michigan State and Southern Cal. Michigan ranked No. 1 a year ago in pass defense (150.1 yards per game) and fourth in pass efficiency defense (103.71), and following a slow start -- they rank 36th and 69th, respectively after one week -- the Wolverines are eager to reassert themselves defensively.

10. Nico Collins, WR, Michigan - In his first career start, Collins had three receptions for 66 yards, including a 52-yard third-quarter grab. He could have a monster afternoon against the Broncos after they failed to slow down Syracuse wideout Jamal Custis. The 6-5, 227-pounder (Collins is 6-4, 218) had catches of 27, 38, 30, 48 (called back by a penalty), 21 and 50 yards last weekend. Surprisingly, WMU boasts 6-0 (Anton Curtis) and 6-2 starting cornerbacks (Stefan Claiborne) but they got owned by Custis.

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