Michigan will find its Week 2 matchup against Air Force significantly easier than its last game against Alabama.
The Wolverines fell from No. 8 in the AP Top 25 preseason poll all the way to No. 19 after losing 41-14 to the Crimson Tide. Air Force opened up its season with a 49-21 victory, but Michigan will provide much stiffer competition than Idaho State did.
Most of the country’s top programs start their season with a warm-up game to build confidence. The Wolverines dove into the deep end against Alabama, and now they will need a strong performance against the Falcons to get back on track.
Here is everything you need to know about the game.
Where: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Mi.
When: Saturday, September 8, 3:30 p.m. ET
Watch: ABC, ESPN2
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Betting Line: Michigan -21 according to Sports Book
Air Force Injury Report (via USA Today)
Jay Fullam—the junior defensive back will miss the entire season with a shoulder injury.
Michigan Injury Report (via USA Today)
Denard Robinson—senior quarterback is probable for the game with a rib injury.
Josh Furman—the sophomore safety is probable for the game with an undisclosed injury.
Blake Countess—the sophomore defensive back is questionable for the game with a leg injury.
Taylor Lewan—the junior offensive lineman is questionable for the game with a leg injury.
Kaleb Wringer—the freshman linebacker is out for the season after knee surgery.
Chris Wormley—the freshman defensive end is out for the season after tearing his ACL.
Chris Bryant—the freshman offensive lineman is out for the season with a fractured tibia.
Antonio Poole—the freshman linebacker is out indefinitely with an injured pectoral muscle.
Fitzgerald Toussaint—the junior running back is expected to return from suspension.
BCS/Top-25 Poll Implications
Air Force likely will not feature in the Top 25 this season, but Michigan has plenty of ground to make up after getting blown out by Alabama. A win against the Falcons will do little to improve the Wolverines’ standing, but it will set them up to start the climb.
Defeating Air Force is the first step for Michigan toward a positive performance against Notre Dame in three weeks and the start of Big Ten play after that.
What They’re Saying
ESPN’s Brian Bennett notes that Michigan certainly looks better on paper, but Air Force could pose a serious threat if the Wolverines do not have their heads in the right place.
The Wolverines need to get over the Alabama loss quickly, as Air Force presents a tricky challenge with its option attack. Cody Getz ran for 218 yards on 17 carries in a win over Idaho State on Saturday. Michigan has better athletes but had better not still be thinking about the Crimson Tide debacle.
ESPN’s Gene Wojciechowski wrote how deflating Michigan’s Week 1 defeat truly was.
You should have seen Michigan's players as they walked down the stadium corridor and toward their locker room after the 41-14 loss to Bama. The Wolverines had blank, vacant faces, as if they had just been told they were relocating to Columbus. I know it was just the first game, but the Tide treated Michigan like a Cocker Spaniel puppy ("Sit. Stay. Roll over.") Bama was scary-focused.
Air Force Player to Watch: Cody Getz
Bennett noted Getz’s incredible day against Idaho State, but the will the holes closing much quicker against Michigan. Getz more than doubled his yardage total from a season ago in just one game.
He is just 5'7" and 175 pounds, but he proved capable of putting up big numbers. Now he must show that he can perform against tougher competition.
Michigan Player to Watch: Denard Robinson
Robinson’s performance against Alabama has put him in a massive hole if he hopes to win the Heisman Trophy this year. He will need a few spectacular performances to get back on track, and he is capable of providing one on Saturday.
Robinson is dangerous with his arm and his legs, and he is the type of explosive athlete that Air Force is not used to facing. He should have an excellent game.
Key Matchup: Air Force Running Game vs. Michigan Defensive Line
Michigan’s defensive line certainly did not look impressive against Alabama, but that may be due to the Crimson Line’s dominant blockers. The Wolverines front seven will get another chance to show that it is not a weak spot on the team against Air Force’s run-heavy attack.
If the Falcons cannot move the ball on the ground, they likely won’t be able to move the ball at all. The Michigan defensive line has a chance to contain the Air Force running game and lead a comfortable victory.
Key Storyline: Can Michigan Bounce Back?
This game will provide a test for Michigan’s resolve. The matchup with Air Force is one the Wolverines should win comfortably as long as they are not still reeling from last week’s embarrassing defeat.
Michigan must prove that it has put the season opener in the past and show fans what they can expect for the remainder of the year.
Prediction: Michigan 38, Air Force 7
Michigan is a better football team than they showed against Alabama, and it has significantly more talent than Air Force. This game will not be close.