The Michigan Wolverines' (1-1) matchup with the Massachusetts Minutemen (0-2) could not have come at a better time for the Maize and Blue.
Their season got off to a rocky start, to say the least, when they were embarrassed by Alabama in the Cowboy Classic. A sloppy performance in one of college football's marquee games of the season was no way to start off the year.
As if things couldn't get worse, the Wolverines struggled with Air Force last weekend and barely pulled out a 31-25 victory. Fortunately for Denard Robinson and his team, they're big favorites against UMass at the Big House.
Let's take a look at everything you need to know for this matchup.
Where: Ann Arbor, Michigan
When: Saturday, September 15 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Watch: Big Ten Network
Listen: WWJ 950 AM (Michigan), 91.1 FM WMUA (UMass)
Live Stream: BTN2Go
Betting Line (via Bovada): Michigan -46.5
Michigan Injury Report (via USAToday.com)
- TE Brandon Moore is questionable with a knee injury.
- OL Taylor Lewan is questionable with a leg injury.
- DB Blake Countess is out for the season with a torn ACL.
- LB Kaleb Ringer is out for the season with a knee injury.
- DE Chris Wormley is out for the season with a torn ACL.
- OL Chris Bryant is out for the season with a fractured tibia.
- LB Antonio Poole is out indefinitely with an injured pectoral muscle.
Massachusetts Injury Report (via USAToday.com)
- OL Anthony Dima is questionable with a strained leg after missing the season's first two games.
- QB Kellen Pagel is sidelined indefinitely with post-concussion symptoms.
Michigan was once thought the be a major contender for the national title, if not just a BCS game. Both of those possibilities have dwindled fast since their season opener. UMass is a complete afterthought for the BCS and is unlikely to even become bowl eligible.
The No. 19 Wolverines are fortunate to be where they are in the rankings and undoubtedly still have time to gain ground, but it won't be easy.
Notching their first lopsided win of the season will be the first step toward making the BCS a likelihood again.
What They're Saying
After a disappointing performance against the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide, star quarterback Denard Robinson went back to being his old self against Air Force.
The senior leader rushed for 218 yards and added 208 yards through the air, and the Wolverines needed all of them in what was a game too close for comfort.
Robinson became the first player in major college history to rush for 200 yards and pass for 200 yards three times in his career against the Falcons, according to CBS Sports.
The third-year starter may be out of contention for the Heisman Trophy after coming up flat in the season opener. But if he can put up eye-popping numbers throughout the rest of the season and get his Wolverines into a BCS bowl, he could have an outside chance.
Michigan Player to Watch
Wolverines running back Fitzgerald Toussaint made storylines before their season opener against Alabama when he was suspended, but now he's back in action and ready to make a difference.
Toussaint got his 1,000 yards last season in a very quiet fashion and even added nine touchdowns to his credit.
But it's safe to say that his 2012 season hasn't gotten off to the start that he would've hoped. In his season debut against Air Force, he finished with eight carries but couldn't even hit the 10-yard plateau.
If he can get back to last season's stride with an easy opponent at home, it could really help his confidence level and help him get back into the swing of things in Michigan's rushing attack.
Robinson can't be the only rushing threat on the team. They desperately need Toussaint to contribute this season.
Massachusetts Player to Watch
The Minutemen had to throw a newbie into the fire at a big position with freshman quarterback Mike Wegzyn, and he's struggled so far this season.
The Knoxville, Tenn. native has compiled a 56.3 completion percentage and has had little luck passing the ball with just 207 combined yards in two games. However, he notched UMass' only touchdown of the season with a rushing TD against Indiana.
If he can build off his scrambling abilities (seven carries, 32 yards, one TD) that he displayed against the Hoosiers, he could give the Minutemen a much-needed shot in the arm offensively.
UMass running back Michael Cox should feel right at home when he jogs onto the field at the Big House, literally.
Cox spent his last four years on the Michigan football team before transferring to join the Minutemen.
He's even an alum of Michigan after receiving his undergraduate degree in general studies from Ann Arbor, according to Harry Plumer of Mass Live.
It's safe to say that Cox will be feeling a slew of emotions when he sees all of his former teammates, fans and coaches Saturday. A big game from him would put the exclamation point on his career at Michigan.
There's absolutely no doubt about this one.
Michigan's season may have gotten off to a disastrous start, but the Wolverines are still a powerhouse in the grand scheme of things. UMass is a solid football team but is nowhere near ready to face a team with the talent and depth of Michigan's.
Michigan 56, Massachusetts 6
-Steven Cook is a TNT breaking news writer and featured columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter.
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