September 3, 2009
Michigan Tech (0-0, 0-0) at Hillsdale (0-0, 1-0)
This tilt pits a pair of teams with high hopes and expectations. Both have spent each of the last two post-seasons sitting at home after having opportunities to be in the playoff field. I won’t go so far as to label a game this early in the season as a “must-win”, but both teams sure need it to gain some early confidence and momentum against a quality opponent.
– Hit’em Quick – The Huskies need to find a way to come out smokin’ and establish an early lead. They have yet to play, and are at a disadvantage from that perspective. Finding a way to jump on Hillsdale early and take they Chargers away from their game plan is a must.
– Strong defense – Tech gave up a lot of yards and almost 30 points per game last year. Hillsdale’s offense is just too potent to stop entirely, so they’d better find a way to keep HC from finishing drives and putting up points.
– Get after Short – QB pressure is a given, but at times Steve Short has been more prone than most to mistakes. When he doesn’t play well, Tech struggles. Finding a way to keep him off the field and guys like Vinnie Panizzi on it give HC a big advantage.
– Stop the Ground Game – If Short isn’t at his best, allowing Tech’s line and Phil Milbrath to run over you isn’t an especially appealing alternative. You can’t just stop one component of the offense when playing Tech. Shutting down both facets is necessary as the Huskies have/can win relying on either route.
Prediction – Again, this isn’t a “must-win” situation but I really think that both teams see this as the exact type of game in which they have to prove to themselves and the rest of the league that they mean business. The opponent is a expected to finish in the top half of the league so having the advantage in terms of head-to-head could play into both their playoff and league standings.
In all likelihood, Hillsdale is going to move the ball in this one. How their defense looks could tell the story. If they allow Tech to get a rhythm on offense this could be a wild one like last year. I like Hillsdale at home (where their defense almost always plays better), and with a game under their belts. Hillsdale 30, Tech 21.
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