Big Ten Football Preview Keys To Every Team: Defense

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten Football Preview Keys To Every Team: Defense

Big Ten

Big Ten Football Preview Keys To Every Team: Defense


Biggest Key To The Michigan Wolverines Defense

Keep everyone (especially Ohio State) to under six yards per play.

The Michigan defense has been absolutely phenomenal under Jim Harbaugh.

It finished 11th in the nation last season, second overall in 2018, third in 2017, and tied with Alabama for No. 1 in 2016, and fourth in Harbaugh’s first season.

And no one would ever know it, because all anyone remembers is the D getting power-dunked on by Ohio State year after year after year.

Last year’s defense allowed just 4.72 yards per play to everyone but three teams – Wisconsin, Alabama, and Ohio State.

Blowout loss, blowout loss (at least, after a half), blowout loss.

Only one other team came up with more than five yards per play – Penn State in the one other loss.

The amazing Michigan D is 0 for its last 7 – it beat Minnesota in 2015 – under Harbaugh when allowing teams to hit six yards per play.

28-1. That’s what Michigan is under Harbaugh – only losing the 14-13 heartbreaker to Iowa in 2016 – when allowing fewer than four yards per play.

Biggest Key To The Michigan State Spartans Defense

Don’t get tired. The Spartans were able to come out of the locker room roaring to start the game and after halftime, but they couldn’t keep up the production.

They dominated the first quarters, allowing just 41 points. And they allowed 113 in the second quarters.

They adjusted, giving up just 29 points in the third quarters. And then it all fell apart allowing 110 in the fourth.

To be fair, the offense didn’t provide a lick of help in five of the six losses – scoring 34 in four, to go along with the 34 against Illinois – but the D collapsed against the Illini and too many teams came through late.

Arizona State was held to three points, right up until it marched for a 75-yard touchdown drive late in the fourth in its 10-7 win.

Ohio State’s 24-point second quarter burst all but put the game away, Wisconsin hammered the nail with 21 fourth quarter points, and worst of all, the 27-point Illinois outburst in the fourth quarter – there was a pick-six by Brian Lewerke in the mix – was the biggest collapse.

NEXT: Minnesota Golden Gophers, Nebraska Cornhuskers

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