Northwestern looks to play spoiler against undefeated Michigan

Northwestern lost its opener to Michigan State and dropped its last road game by 49 points.According to coach Pat Fitzgerald, the biggest test of the season awaits his team on Saturday. The Wildcats will try to knock No. 6 Michigan from the ranks of the unbeaten in Ann Arbor.”This is by far probably the best team we’ve played all year to this point,” he said. “It’s not even close in my opinion, watching everybody on tape that we’ve prepared for. So this is going to be a huge challenge.”The Wildcats could play the role of spoiler this week, as the Wolverines (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) will face the Spartans next week with the potential of those rivals being undefeated.For Fitzgerald, the Wildcats’ motivation comes from trying to build on their 21-7 victory over Rutgers on Saturday. With the aid of a bye week, the Wildcats (3-3, 1-2) bounced back from their 56-7 debacle at Nebraska on Oct. 2.”For the most part on Saturday, we probably played our best collective game in all three phases and we’ve got to build upon that spark,” he said.South Carolina transfer Ryan Hilinski passed for 267 yards and two touchdowns, including a 64-yard strike to Malik Washington.”I just think he’s growing every day, every rep,” Fitzgerald said of his quarterback. “I thought he played pretty clean. He got away with a couple of throws that we won’t be able to get away with this week against the Wolverines. But for the most part, he made really good decisions with the ball.”After getting shredded by the Cornhuskers, the Wildcats’ defense limited the Scarlet Knights to 222 total yards and 13 first downs.”I thought our defensive line played its best game of the year on Saturday,” Fitzgerald said. “In contrast to some of our earlier games, we actually tackled much better at linebacker.”Their tackling will have to be crisp to pull off an upset against the Wolverines and their potent rushing game. Michigan had an extra week to prepare for the contest after escaping Nebraska with a 32-29 win on Oct. 9.

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