Miami (OH) (0-1) at Michigan (0-1)
Noon, Saturday on ESPN2
Line: Michigan -15
Finally, Michigan's first MAC opponent of the year. It's an annual rite of passage for at least two lucky MAC schools to come to the Big House and this year brings us Miami (OH) and Toledo.
This week the Wolverines welcome Bo Schembechler's former school, the Miami University RedHawks. Is it just me, or does it seem like Michigan plays this MAC school more so than others? Well, it's not true (Eastern Michigan six times, Miami now four).
After last week's 25-23 home loss to Utah, don't expect another letdown. This isn't last year where we had a quality opponent in Oregon coming in, it's a MAC school and being that I graduated from a MAC school I can attest to just how weak the conference is.
Miami finished 6-7 last year, won the MAC East Division title, lost to CMU in the MAC title game and got passed over for a bowl in favor of Ball State—a better West Division team.
Michigan Pass Offense vs. Miami Pass Defense
Last week against Vanderbilt, Miami didn't allow too much. Either that, or Vandy just didn't pass very much as seen by Chris Nickson passing 9-for-16 and 91 yards.
Vanderbilt just didn't test the RedHawks secondary very much last week and I'm not sure if that's because they were scared of last year's 56th ranked pass defense, or that the Commodores have no faith in Nickson. I'll go with the latter.
Nickson and Vanderbilt were having too much fun running the ball anyway and didn't need to pass. Nickson rushed for 186 yards.
Steven Threet is reportedly the starter this week and Greg Matthews is supposedly out for this game which worries me greatly.
It doesn't really matter who starts at quarterback, both Nick Sheridan and Threet can bite the big one, but having Matthews out hurts a lot.
Maybe against lighter competition, inexperienced receivers like Martavious Odoms and Darryl Stonum can shine a little bit.
Michigan Run Offense vs. Miami Run Defense
I fully expect the running game to look night and day different from last week. Vanderbilt ran for a total of 269 yards against Miami who ranked 76th last year in total run defense.
Michigan on the other hand really stunk it up last week against Utah. The Wolverines interior line looked like swiss cheese and were repeatedly letting Utah's interior lineman into the backfield to blow up running plays.
The Wolverines gained 34 yards on the ground with 21 of those coming on one run by Brandon Minor.
Kevin Grady returns this week and hopefully he can provide a spark. Rich Rodriguez needs to play Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown more while slowly letting Sam McGuffie out onto the field.
Running backs were suppose to be our big strength on offense this year so I want to see proof of that this week against a flapjack like Miami (don't ask what flapjack means, I just made it up, roll with it).
Miami Pass Offense vs. Michigan Pass Defense
The only time Michigan got beat in the passing game last week was when they played zone and I hope they learned their lesson. Brian Johnson was a fifth year senior who picked it apart like cherry pickers in Traverse City.
Miami does not have a fifth-year senior, they instead have Dan Raudabaugh who is the anti Brian Johnson. Here's his numbers against Vandy: 19-for-41, 244 yards, one TD, three INT's and sacked three times.
With the exception of Steve Brown, I think our secondary is solid. It was linebackers who were getting beat underneath most of the time, but certain personnel changes will hopefully rectify that.
Jonas Mouton will see more time over Austin Panter and Marell Evans, both of whom looked lost at times last week. John Thompson will also see more time.
Miami Run Offense vs. Michigan Run Defense
Mike Barwis has totally transformed the D-line in my opinion. During the fourth quarter I don't think I've ever seen the Wolverines D-line play like they did against Utah. Stellar.
Will Johnson and Tim Jamison are monsters and Brandon Graham did a lot better later in the game.
Utah only netted 36 yards rushing while Miami netted 96 against Vanderbilt. Thomas Merriweather had 59 yards on 10 carries for the RedHawks and that does not scare me at all.
I think Michigan learned a lot from its first half mistakes against Utah and might proceed to dominate the rest of the regular season.
Brandon Harrison looked good returning punts and kickoffs last week. That punt formation has got to go unless RichRod wants all of us to have heart attacks. If that's his goal, consider it accomplished.
I don't see much of a threat in a returner on Miami so as long as Michigan doesn't have a mental lapse or complete breakdown in coverage they'll be alright.
Michigan really needs to come out and dominate this game in order to put to rest any fears of the program turning into what Notre Dame was last year. I'm not saying they need to completely obliterate Miami, just be in control throughout.
Worst case scenario is that Michigan is headed down that path and loses to a MAC team for the first time in school history (15 games).
The 15-point spread I think is more than generous, but I'd put money on Miami against the spread simply because Michigan never covers the spread, but that was with Lloyd Carr at the helm.
Michigan 27, Miami 17