Campus Corner

The Star's blog on college sports, featuring Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri

Five things K-State fans should know about Michigan

12/10/2013 2:47 PM

12/10/2013 2:47 PM

Two days have passed since the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl announced it was inviting Kansas State and Michigan to play in its annual postseason game.

K-State coaches, no doubt, have been researching the Wolverines ever since. So have I. Here are a few things that stand out about their season:

1. Michigan and Kansas State have been polar opposites this year.

The Wolverines started 5-0 with a signature victory over Notre Dame. The Wildcats started 2-4 with an unexpected loss to North Dakota State. Yet, both teams finished 7-5.

Narrow wins over Akron and Connecticut can now be viewed as signs that Michigan wasn’t as good as its hot start indicated. But a loss to Penn State truly sent Michigan spiraling downward. The Wolverines lost that game 43-40 (in four overtimes) and never truly recovered. They needed 63 points to beat Indiana in their following game and then lost four of their last five, with the only victory coming in three overtimes against Northwestern.

Michigan didn’t play horribly during that stretch. It lost to Nebraska by four, to Iowa by three and to Ohio State by one. But it will head to Arizona with zero momentum.

2. Michigan is not a dominant running team.
K-State’s biggest defensive struggles have come against quality running teams. North Dakota State, Texas and Oklahoma all beat the Wildcats by topping 200 yards on the ground.

Michigan might have trouble doing the same. The Wolverines are not a power-rushing team. It averages 130.8 rushing yards, a number that ranks 100th nationally and 11th in the Big Ten.

Fitzgerald Toussaint is the team’s leading rusher with 646 yards and 12 touchdowns. Devin Gardner is also a capable runner. The mobile quarterback could potentially give K-State the most trouble, as he has amassed 483 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground this season.

Still, K-State should be able to defend Michigan’s rushing attack.

3. Michigan has one clutch kicker.
Don’t believe me? Check out this highlight, starting at about the 2:10 mark: