Undefeated Michigan knows it’s in for a different kind of test against rival Michigan StateBy Larry Lage, AP
Monday, October 4, 2010
Michigan hopes it passes test vs. Michigan State
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan is undefeated after some closely contested victories.
The Wolverines hope they’re ready to pick it up a notch because Michigan State is up next.
“It’s probably going to be our biggest test so far,” safety Jordan Kovacs said Monday.
The 18th-ranked Wolverines (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) will host the 17th-ranked Spartans (5-0, 1-0) on Saturday at the Big House, hoping to win for the first time since 2007 to stop their longest losing streak in the rivalry since the 1960s.
“That’s in the past,” dismissed coach Rich Rodriguez, who is 0-2 against Michigan State.
The Spartans’ balanced offense with Kirk Cousins passing and as many as three running backs taking handoffs along with the Greg Jones-led defense seem to pose a bigger problem than anything Notre Dame, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Bowling Green or Indiana did.
“We have got to play better than what we have played and hope that they make a few mistakes,” Rodriguez said.
The Wolverines, though, have Denard Robinson on their side.
He is 95 yards rushing from 1,000 this year and 87 yards on the ground or through the air for the 2,000-yard mark in total offense.
The Big Ten has recognized players of the week since 1987 and Robinson became just the third to win the award three times in the first five weeks of the season, joining Purdue’s Kyle Orton (2004) and Michigan State’s Javon Ringer (2008) as players who accomplished the feat.
It would’ve been tough to not vote for Robinson after his latest jaw-dropping performance in Saturday’s 42-35 win at Indiana.
He scored the game-winning touchdown with 17 seconds left and accounted for 494 yards and five touchdowns — passing and throwing for more than 200 yards in both categories.
Rodriguez planned to give him a break on Monday.
“He’ll be a little limited, just because he’s been running so much,” Rodriguez said. “You want him 100 percent on Saturday.”
Michigan hopes running back Michael Shaw will be back in the lineup, giving the Spartans somebody other than Robinson to respect in the backfield.
Rodriguez, as much as anyone wearing maize and blue or rooting for college football’s winningest team, knows the team needs everybody it can have on the field to beat their in-state rival.
“They are all big, but this one is bigger,” Rodriguez said. “The rivalry games are always bigger. I’m sure they will tell you the same thing. The more you win, there’s more at stake. There’s more at stake this year because both teams are undefeated. It’s a huge game and our guys understand that. I’m sure their players do, too.”
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