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#4 Michigan vs Colorado game preview

September 16th, 2016 by Justin Potts


um-colorado-game-preview-header(Isaiah Hole, 247 Sports)

For the third straight week an external storyline has dominated the talk leading up to the game, this time in the form of a fake depth chart from Colorado. In Week 1, Hawaii head coach Nick Rolovich told the media that Harbaugh declined his request to send game tape. He later said that he was joking. In Week 2, the talk centered around UCF head coach Scott Frost and his comments about Michigan following the 1997 season that saw his Nebraska Cornhuskers share the national title with Michigan.

um-colorado_small
Quick Facts
Michigan Stadium – 3:30p.m. EST – BTN
Colorado Head Coach: Mike MacIntyre (4th season)
Coaching Record: 12-27 (2-25 Pac-12)
Co-Offensive Coordinators: Darrin Chiaverini (1st season)
Brian Lindgren (1st season)
Defensive Coordinator: Jim Leavitt (1st season)
Last Season: 4-9 (1-8 Pac-12)
Last Meeting: UM 27 – CU 3 (1997)
All-Time Series: Michigan 3-1
Record in Ann Arbor: Michigan 2-1
Jim Harbaugh vs Colorado First meeting
Last Michigan win: 1997 (27-3)
Last Colorado win: 1994 (27-26)
Current Streak: Michigan 2
Colorado Schedule to date
Opponent Result
Colorado State W 44-7
Idaho State W 56-7

This week, Colorado decided to poke fun at the fact that Harbaugh hasn’t released a depth chart this season. Colorado sports information director Dave Plati created a fake depth chart that lists the Buffaloes’ quarterback as Elmer Fudd, the halfbacks as the Hanson brothers from the 1977 movie Slapshot, defensive tackle — wearing No. 007 of course — as James Bond, and “weak safety” as Stewie Griffin from Family Guy.

Harbaugh, however, dismissed the tactic in an interview on Thursday morning with 97.1 FM.

“In our preparation for Colorado we’ve had a hard time working humor into the preparations,” Harbaugh said. “They’re a very good football team.”

He continued.

“I saw the depth chart. I was trying to imagine how many people sat around and how many hours they worked on that. We’ve just found, I mean, when it comes to the depth chart — modern technology seems to have made the depth chart an out-dated task by about 20 years. We’ve found studying last week’s film of the opponent is the most accurate way of determining another team’s depth chart.”

No matter who starts for Colorado, a win in the Big House would be a huge lift for a program that had won just 10 games in head coach Mike MacIntyre’s first three seasons in Boulder. It’s a make or break season for Mac and he hopes to recreate the magic that Colorado displayed 22 years ago when Kordell Steward stunned the Wolverines with a hail Mary. The Buffaloes will be wearing those 1994 uniforms tomorrow.

So far this season, Colorado looks much improved over the team that went just 4-9 and 1-8 in Pac-12 play a year ago. The level of competition hasn’t been much as Colorado State ranks 112th nationally in FEI — 31 spots below UCF — and Idaho State ranks 78th in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). Still, like Michigan in its first two games of the season, Colorado did what it needed to do, winning both games by a combined score of 100-14.

So could Colorado stun Michigan again? Let’s take a look at the matchups.

When Colorado has the ball

Co-offensive coordinators Darrin Chiaverini and Brian Lindgren returned just four full-time starters from last season, but they also welcomed a productive junior college transfer and got back a starting offensive lineman who missed all of 2015 due to injury.

Senior quarterback Sefo Liufau entered the season with 29 games of starting experience and 32 games of playing experience under his belt. So far through two weeks he has completed 74.1 percent of his passes for 522 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. He has also rushed 20 times for an average of six yards per carry and one touchdown. He missed the final two games of 2015 and all of spring practice with a Lisfranc (foot) injury, but has shown no signs of rust thus far. Entering the season, Liufau held 75 school records and will look to build on that the rest of 2016.

Last year’s leading rusher, junior Phillip Lindsay, is back after rushing for 653 yards and six touchdowns a year ago. He has 125 yards and a team-leading four touchdowns on 4.6 yards per carry so far this season. He shares the backfield with Kyle Evans, a 5-foot-6, 175-pound sophomore who has 93 yards and two scores on 4.0 yards per carry so far. Junior Donovan Lee and freshman Beau Bisharat are averaging six to nine carries a game. Bisharat was a 247 Composite four-star who held offers from Oregon, Michigan State, Stanford, Nebraska, and others before signing with the Buffaloes.

The receiving corps suffered the biggest loss from last season in the form of graduating senior Nelson Spruce, who ranked second in the Pac-12 with 6.8 receptions per game and fifth with 81 yards per game, though he only found the end zone four times. Leading returning receiver Shay Fields, who caught 42 passes for 598 yards and four scores in 2015, leads the Buffs with 157 yards on five catches, but has yet to find the end zone. Junior Devin Ross and junior college transfer Kabion Ento have two touchdown receptions apiece. At 6-foot-3, 180 pounds, Ento has the best size among the receiving corps and he’s coming off a 38-catch, 607-yard, eight-touchdown performance at East Central (Miss.) Community College in 2015. Junior Bryce Bobo is the other impact receiver with seven catches for 106 yards thus far.

The offensive line returned three of last season’s opening day starters, though left tackle Jeromy Irwin suffered a season-ending ACL injury in the second quarter of the second game. He’s back as the anchor of the line after starting 11 games in 2014. The most experienced is senior center Alex Kelley, who has started 27 career games including all 13 a year ago. Left guard Gerrad Kough started 10 games last season while missing three with various injuries. The right side of the line is where the newcomers stepped in. Redshirt freshman Tim Lynott earned the job at right guard and junior Sam Kronshage won the right tackle gig. Kronshage started six games last season, three at left tackle and three at right tackle.

When Michigan has the ball

When Michigan’s 2015 defensive coordinator, D.J. Durkin, left for the Maryland head coaching position after just one season, one of the names that came up as his replacement was former South Florida head coach Jim Leavitt. Harbaugh, of course, hired Boston College’s Don Brown instead, and Leavitt ended up in the same position at Colorado. In Boulder, he inherits a veteran defense that looks to take a step forward in his second season.

The defensive line has been a weakness the past few seasons, but returned plenty of experience. Senior nose tackle Josh Tupou, who has started 33 career games, redshirted in 2015 due to a violation of team rules. He was an honorable mention Freshman All-American in 2012 and honorable mention All-Pac-12 in 2014, so his return will be a welcome addition for Leavitt. He has six tackles, including one for loss in the first two games. He’s be joined on the line by senior ends Jordan Carrell and Samson Kafovalu, who have combined for nine tackles, 1.5 for loss, and one sack so far.

Like the defensive line and offensive line, the linebacking corps gets back a key piece that missed most of last season. Junior inside linebacker Addison Gillam started 10 games in 2014 and was a first-team Freshman All-American in 2013, but tore his meniscus in Week 2 last season. But he’s not a starter this season and has just two tackles. Inside linebackers Rick Gamboa and Kenneth Olugbode are the second and third leading tacklers so far. Senior outside linebacker Jimmie Gilbert led the team with six sacks last season and has one already this year and a team-leading two tackles for loss. Junior Derek McCartney started the Idaho State game after Christian Shaver started in Week 1. McCartney racked up 70 tackles, 10 for loss, and five sacks in 2015. He has recorded two tackles including one for loss so far.

The secondary returned three starters including preseason Jim Thorpe Award candidate Chidobe Awuzie, who tallied 90 tackles and a team-high 10 pass breakups in 2015. He was a second-team All-Pac-12 performer and has 22 career pass breakups. He leads the team with 10 tackles and also has two pass breakups and an interception so far. Junior Afolabi Laguda is the other corner with six tackles. Safeties Tedric Thompson and Ahkello Witherspoon have combined for four pass breakups.

The other third

Special teams was a bit lackluster for the Buffaloes last season, so MacIntyre brought in a pair of new coaches to oversee the unit. Former special teams coordinator Toby Neinas was dismissed and landed at Rutgers, and in his place stepped Daniel Da Prato and Matt Thompson. Da Prato was the special teams coordinator at Montana State the past three seasons, while Thompson was a private kicking instructor.

Senior kicker Diego Gonzalez has made all three of his attempts so far this season, but hasn’t attempted one longer than 30 yards. He made just 62.1 percent of his field goal attempts in his first season as the primary kicker last season, but he did show off a big leg with a long of 52. In fact, he went 2-of-3 from 50-plus yards. He struggled mightily from the left hash, making just 5-of-12, but made 13-of-17 everywhere else. Sophomore punter Alex Kinney ranked ninth in the Pac-12 with an average of 40.1 yards per punt as a true freshman. He is averaging 42.8 yards per punt so far this season with one touchback and one downed inside the 20.

Prediction

Michigan’s schedule has gradually gotten stronger by the opponent and this will be the biggest test yet. The line has hovered around 20 points, but that will be a tough one for Michigan to cover. Through the first two weeks of the season Colorado ranks in the top 10 nationally in both offense and defense. Like Michigan they have feasted on cupcakes without playing down to their competition, but they have done it better.

Colorado has done a good job taking care of the ball so far this season. They have lost three fumbles — which are mostly random — but Liufau hasn’t thrown an interception yet. Michigan’s defense has forced four turnovers so far — two of which were pick-sixes — and they’ll need to force Liufau to make mistakes.

Offensively, the big question will be whether Michigan can muster a run game. UCF packed eight and nine man boxes a week ago to stop the run, so Wilton Speight aired it out 37 times. The passing game made seven big plays (20 or more yards). But Colorado features a much better secondary than UCF did. Awuzie is one of the best corners Michigan will face this season and will be able to stick with Jehu Chesson or Amara Darboh. If the offensive line is unable to get a push and open up running lanes, Speight will be tested more than he has yet in his young career.

This game has the makings of a tight one through the first half that Michigan pulls away in the second. I do think the running game will be able to have some success — Colorado State rushed for 5.6 yards per carry on 33 attempts — and the play action passing game will make enough big plays to ensure the win, but not cover the spread.

Michigan 34 – Colorado 17

New arrival: Colorado game poster

September 15th, 2016 by Maize and Go Blue


gameposter-2016-colorado

With the way Colorado has been poking the bear all week, Ralphie may be destined for a wall in Schembechler Hall.

Download the high-res version here, good up to 18×24.

Previous: Hawaii, UCF

Our weekly game posters are designed by Christian Elden, a designer and illustrator who happens to be a Michigan fan. He lives in northwest Ohio where he runs his own design firm. He has illustrated a picture book for Warner Press and has been featured in Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse Jr. Magazine. Visit his personal site to view some of his other works.

The numbers game: While UCF loaded the box, Michigan went to the air for big plays

September 15th, 2016 by Josh DeMille


darboh-vs-ucf(Isaiah Hole, 247)

Previously: Is Don Brown’s defense high-risk? The numbers say noMichigan’s Harbaughfense will be more explosive in Year 2, Run game makes big plays in Week 1

Week 2 is in the books and despite their delusional coach thinking they “outhit” Michigan, UCF was still the beneficiary of a 51-14 beat down. Let’s dive right in and see how Michigan’s big play and toxic differential numbers played out against the Knights.

Michigan had a total of 12 big plays against UCF, down from 14 the previous week. However, this time the plays were more evenly distributed amongst run and pass at five and seven respectfully (they were 11 and three last week). I think this was partially due to UCF stacking the box and selling out to stop the run. It’s tough to tell if a play is a run blitz or not but according to Pro Football Focus Speight was blitzed on 28 of his 39 dropbacks, so it’s probably safe to assume they had some sort of blitz dialed up on most downs (sounds familiar). It’s still novel to note that the coaching staff did not insist on running the ball into eight- and nine-man boxes but instead adjusted and decided to air it out.

After two games Michigan is averaging eight big run plays per game (17th nationally), five big pass plays per game (16th), and 13 total big plays per game (eighth) for a big play percentage of 18.44 percent (eighth).

Through two games in 2015, the Michigan offense was averaging 3.5 big run plays and 3.5 big pass plays for a total of seven big plays per game. Their big play percentage was 9.59 percent.

Adding the UCF game to their Week 1 totals, Michigan’s defense has taken a big hit in the big plays against rankings, most notably the run. Michigan has now given up 5.5 big run plays per game (90th nationally) and one big pass play per game (9th), for a total of 6.5 big plays per game (50th) and a big play against percentage of 10.16 percent (67th).

Their big play differential (big play percentage for, minus big play percentage against) is a very solid 8.2 percent (13th nationally), while their total toxic differential (big plays for minus big plays against, plus turnover margin) is 16 (11th nationally). On a per game basis they rank 12th nationally in toxic differential.

In 2015, Michigan gave up an average of four big run plays per game and 1.5 big pass plays per game for a total of 5.5 big plays given up per game. This works out to a 8.94 percent big plays against percentage. Their big play differential percentage was 0.65 percent. Toxic differential was minus-7.

Michigan offense – 2015 vs 2016 first two weeks comparison
Year Big Run Plays Big Pass Plays Total Big Plays Big Play % Big Play Diff Toxic Diff
2016 16 10 26 18.44% 8.2% 16
2015 7 7 14 9.59% 0.65% -7
Michigan defense – 2015 vs 2016 averages
Year Big Run Plays/gm Big Pass Plays/gm Total Big Plays/gm Big Play % Big Play Diff Toxic Diff
2016 5.5 1 6.5 10.16% 8.2% 16
2015 4 1.5 5.5 8.94% 0.65% -7

Michigan came out throwing the ball around to the tune of 37 pass attempts. This resulted in seven big pass plays, four of which were over 30-yards. The big run plays were down but it was still nice to see De’Veon Smith record two of them (17, 12). As I mentioned with UCF essentially selling out to stop the run, it was not a surprise to see Michigan’s big run plays limited while the big pass plays increased.

On the flip side of the ball I was surprised, as I’m sure many of you were, to see UCF come up with several big plays, all of them in the run game. I saw some comments on Twitter (speaking of, you should follow me at @jdemille9) about the high-risk nonsense we dispelled earlier and about guys not being in their correct lanes. I went back and re-watched the game to see what exactly happened. Three of the seven were quarterback scrambles in which Michigan either took a bad angle to the play and/or over-pursued. The 87-yard touchdown run came with Mike McCray being slightly out of position (and possibly held) and Dymonte Thomas taking a very bad angle of pursuit. Jawon Hamilton being super fast didn’t hurt either.

While concerning and frustrating in the moment, I’m not too worried about these big runs against Michigan, as it is an issue that will be corrected by the coaches. Missing Bryan Mone, Taco Charlton, and even Jourdan Lewis cannot be understated here. It’s also better for these hiccups (which we all knew would happen) to occur early in the season against teams that are not a threat to win the game.

I am not saying big runs like this will never happen again but once the adjustments are made in practice I don’t see another team on the schedule, outside of Ohio State, capable of gashing Michigan on the ground repeatedly like UCF did. Don Brown was brought in because of his ability to stop spread to run teams like Ohio State, and he will make the proper adjustments going forward.

Michigan’s Week 2 big plays
Quarter Down & Distance Player Yards Gained Run/Pass
1 3rd and 8 Wilton Speight to Jehu Chesson 35 Pass
1 1st and 10 Wilton Speight to Jehu Chesson 32 Pass
1 1st and 10 Wilton Speight to Amara Darboh 45 (TD) Pass
1 1st and 10 Eddie McDoom 16 Run
2 2nd and 13 De’Veon Smith 17 Run
2 2nd and 1 De’Veon Smith 12 Run
3 1st and 10 Wilton Speight to Jake Butt 23 Pass
3 3rd and 6 Wilton Speight to Amara Darboh 20 Pass
3 2nd and 10 Chris Evans 18 Run
4 1st and 10 Wilton Speight to Jake Butt 25 Pass
4 3rd and 5 Wilton Speight to Amara Darboh 30 (TD) Pass
4 3rd and 8 Kekoa Crawford 11 Run
UCF’s Week 2 big plays
1 1st and 10 Jawon Hamilton 11 Run
1 3rd and 9 Justin Holman 30 Run
2 2nd and 10 Adrian Killins 87 (TD) Run
2 3rd and 9 Justin Holman 35 Run
2 2nd and 6 Jawon Hamilton 11 Run
3 2nd and 10 Nick Patti 26 Run
3 1st and 10 Dontravious Wilson 34 (TD) Run

Looking ahead to Colorado, I was a bit surprised to see how well they ranked in big play metrics, especially their defense. Of course, they did play an FCS team last week but they beat them as you’d expect.

The Colorado offense averages seven big run plays per game (33rd nationally) and 4.4 big pass plays per game (27th) for a total of 11.5 big plays per game (19th) and a big play percentage of 12.99 percent (50th).

On defense, the Buffaloes have looked very impressive. They give up an average of 2.5 big run plays per game (22nd nationally) and zero big pass plays (first) for a total of 2.5 big plays given up per game (second). Their big play against percentage is 4.2 percent (third). Their big play differential is 8.79 percent (11th) and total toxic differential is 20 (fourth).

Colorado is one of just four teams to not surrender a big pass play through the first two weeks of the season. I would expect that streak to end this week. Two of the other three are teams within Michigan’s division, whom I will not mention.

On paper it looks as though Colorado could give Michigan a run for their money, as far as not allowing big plays, and it should be a much more competitive game than the past two opponents, despite Vegas favoring Michigan by 20 points.

I expect Michigan to win but I am not excited about the inevitable Kordell Stewart Hail Mary replays. Why did Dave Brandon insist on rescheduling teams to whom Michigan lost epic heartbreakers, as if winning them the second time around would make those memories any less painful? And now it comes out that Colorado will be wearing the exact same uniforms they did on September 24th, 1994. My 15-year-old self would not be pleased to hear this.

Big Ten power rankings 2016 – Week 2

September 14th, 2016 by Maize and Go Blue


power-rankings_header

Each Wednesday throughout the season we will release our Big Ten power rankings. These are voted on individually by the five members of our staff and then each team’s ranking is averaged to reach our power rankings. As these are simply power rankings, they are based on each team’s performance to date, not what happened last season or what will happen in the future.

big-ten-power-rankings-week-2*Black dash signifies previous week’s ranking

The top six remain the same from last week, but Week 3 provides an opportunity for movement with Ohio State visiting 14th-ranked Oklahoma, Michigan State visiting 18th-ranked Notre Dame, and Nebraska hosting 22nd-ranked Oregon. Penn State and Northwestern were the biggest losers from Week 2, each falling two spots with losses to Pittsburgh and Illinois State, respectively. Northwestern finds itself in the cellar as the Big Ten’s only two-loss team.

Big Ten power rankings – Week 2
1. Ohio State (2-0) | Even | Beat Tulsa 48-3 | This week: Saturday at #14 Oklahoma (1-1), 7:30pm, FOX
2. Michigan (2-0) | Even | Beat UCF 51-14 | This week: Saturday Colorado (2-0), 3:30pm, BTN
3. Wisconsin (2-0) | Even | Beat Akron 54-10 | This week: Saturday vs Georgia State (0-2), 12pm, BTN
4. Iowa (2-0) | Even | Beat Iowa State 42-3 | This week: Saturday vs NDSU (2-0), 12pm, ESPN2
5. Michigan State (1-0) | Even | Bye | This week: Saturday at #18 Notre Dame (1-1), 7:30pm, NBC
6. Nebraska (2-0) | Even | Beat Wyoming 52-17 | This week: Saturday vs #22 Oregon (2-0), 3:30pm, ABC
7. Minnesota (2-0) | Up 1 | Beat Indiana State 58-28 | This week: Bye
8. Indiana (2-0) | Up 1 | Beat Ball State 30-20 | This week: Bye
9. Penn State (1-1) | Down 2 | Lost to Pittsburgh 39-42 | This week: Saturday vs Temple (1-1), 12pm, BTN
10. Maryland (2-0) |Up 1 | Beat FIU 41-14 | This week: Saturday at UCF (1-1), 7pm, CBSSN
11. Illinois (1-1) | Down 1 | Lost to North Carolina 23-48 | This week: Saturday vs WMU (2-0), 4pm, ESPNN
12. Purdue (1-1) | Up 1 | Lost to Cincinnati 20-38 | This week: Bye
13. Rutgers (1-1) | Up 1 | Beat Howard 52-14 | This week: Saturday vs New Mexico (1-1), 12pm, ESPNN
14. Northwestern (0-2) | Down 2 | Lost to Illinois State 7-9 | This week: Saturday vs Duke (1-1), 8pm, BTN

Tailgate Tuesday: Chicken street tacos

September 13th, 2016 by GoBluBBQ


tailgate-tuesday_2016_week3-v2

Tailgate Tuesday is our weekly contribution from our resident pitmaster, Joe Pichey from GoBlueBBQ. These tailgate recipes will be posted each Tuesday throughout the football season and will feature a variety of appetizers, main courses, and sides to help you be the king of your next tailgate. Lane’s BBQ, a Bethlehem, Ga. based BBQ company, sponsors this season’s feature by providing their killer rubs and sauces for use in the recipes. Buy them here. In addition, Fogo Charcoal provides charcoal to use in each recipe. Buy it here.

Previous: Cedar planked scotch eggs, pork tenderloin sliders with grilled cheese
Full Archive here.

Here we are in Week 3 and the competition is getting better each Saturday. The Buffs will be a stiffer test for the Maize and Blue so our tailgate recipe needs to keep pace. I don’t know about you, but I love a good taco. I don’t care if it’s beef or chicken as long as it’s in a smaller soft tortilla shell. I want to be able to walk around with it and not make a huge mess. I don’t want it crumbling in my hand after the first bite. I also want to grab it and go if needed. These chicken soft tacos are perfect for your tailgate and will make your guests very happy.

Ingredients

• Chicken thighs (boneless)
• Flour or corn soft tortillas
• Queso fresco
• Pico de gallo
• Cilantro
Lane’s “SORTA WHITE” Sauce
Lane’s SPF 53 Rub

Directions

Fire your grill up for direct heat. These are best cooked fast as you want a nice char on the exterior. It adds a nice flavor to the finished taco. As the coals are heating up, season your chicken thighs with Lane’s SPF 53 rub. This has a nice heat to it and will complement the finishing white sauce. For those seeking heat, this is the rub for you.

Season both sides of the meat. Don’t worry about trimming the fat as it will cook off during the grilling process. If you have a large amount of fat on the thighs, feel free to trim a little. Fat is flavor, so don’t remove it all.

Once the coals are hot, toss the thighs on the hot grill grate. Since these are boneless, they are very thin and will cook quickly. The boneless thighs will cook over direct heat for about four minutes a side. If you have your Thermapen instant read thermometer, you’re looking for an internal temp of 165 degrees.

chicken-tacos-3-4-5

After about 4-5 minutes, flip the chicken and repeat on the other side. Don’t worry about the flare ups, as you want a little char on the exterior. It also adds flavor. Once they reach 165 degrees internal or have gone for about eight minutes total, they are done. Remove from the grill and tent with foil for five minutes to allow the juices to redistribute into the meat. After five minutes, chop into bite sized pieces. As you can see below, these pieces are still super juicy and have some great color from the rub.

Add a good amount of Lane’s “Sorta White” sauce to the chopped chicken and mix together. The color and flavor of this sauce is FANTASTIC and pairs perfectly with chicken or pork. Trust me, you want this one in your rotation. It is a top seller for Lane’s.

Once mixed, start building your new favorite soft tacos with a little chicken, some pico de gallo, a few crumbles of quest fresco and of course some cilantro. These will not last long. I think I ate four before I decided to take some pictures. These are so moist and tender, you will wish you grilled some more chicken.

chicken-tacos-6-7-8

These would also make some great burritos or super flavorful nachos. This “Sorta White” sauce is bursting with flavors and is very similar to the Alabama white sauce that has exploded on the scene in recent years. Give this one a go when you’re hankering for a taco, or two or three or eight. GO BLUE!!!!!

Visit Lane’s BBQ to purchase their fantastic line of rubs and sauces. You can follow them on FacebookandInstagram.

Visit Fogo to purchase their premium lump charcoal. You can follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

After growing up in Michigan, Joe now lives in North Texas where he can barbecue year ’round. He cooks mostly on Big Green Eggs and some Webers and has competed in BGE competitions. When he’s not watching Michigan football, he also teaches BBQ classes at a local grilling store and does some catering. You can follow Joe on Twitter at @mmmgoblubbq and Instagram at @gobluebbq.

Five-Spot Challenge 2016: Colorado

September 12th, 2016 by Maize and Go Blue


Congratulations to HTTV137 for winning last week’s Five-Spot Challenge. His deviation of 205 was 23 points better than GrizzlyJFB. It was a solid all-around effort as HTTV137 was the closest to Kenny Allen’s punt yards (140, just three away), fourth-closest to Chris Evans’ rushing yards (35, 15 away), fourth-closest to the yards gained on Michigan’s first possession (minus-1, 23 away), and fifth-closest to the total yards for Michigan true freshmen (69, 30 away). He wins a prize box of product from our sponsors, Lane’s BBQCultivate Coffee & Tap House, and Chayder Grilling Company.

Gvanneste was the closest to the yards gained on Michigan’s first possession with his prediction of six. JD Mackiewicz was the closest to UCF’s 56 passing yards (44 away). Bigboyblue‘s prediction of 39 was the closest to Evans’ 35 rushing yards, while kashkaav was only three away from the total yards by Michigan true freshmen.

All 31 contestants picked Michigan to win by an average score of Michigan 51 – UCF 8. No one correctly predicted the score, but BadBlu was the closest with his prediction of 53-13. Boggie was the only one to correctly predict Michigan’s total of 51, while nobody had UCF scoring exactly 14. Only one contestant, Gdub18, had UCF scoring more than 14 points (17).

Michigan hosts Colorado this Saturday. The Buffaloes come in with wins over Colorado State and Idaho State and rank in the top 10 nationally in both total offense (seventh) and total defense (first). Here are this week’s questions.

First Look: Colorado

September 12th, 2016 by Justin Potts


colorado

Michigan took care of UCF on Saturday to improve to 2-0 on the season. The Wolverines have now scored 50 or more points in back to back games for the first time since 1992 and the 114 points scored in the first two games are the fourth most in program history — the most since the 1914 team scored 127 points against DePauw and Case.

Now the schedule gets progressively tougher as the 2-0 Colorado Buffaloes come to town with plenty of confidence. Let’s take a look at how the two teams compare two games into the season.

Colorado stats & Michigan comparison
Colorado | Michigan Rank Defense Rank
Points Per Game 50.0 | 57.0 11 5
7.0 8.5 6 9
Rushing Yards 522 425 197 356
Rush Avg. Per Game 261.0 212.5 20 45
98.5 178.0 30 90
Avg. Per Rush 4.6 | 5.3
4.0 4.3
Passing Yards 653 534 124 207
Pass Avg. Per Game 326.5 267.0 17 42 62.0 103.5 2 9
Total Offense 1,175 959 321 563
Total Off Avg. Per Game 587.5 479.5 7 38 160.5 281.5 1 29
Kick Return Average 20.0 8.2 76 126 23.6 17.2 101 | 33
Punt Return Average 7.0 18.5 66 14 6.0 | 12.0 64 103
Avg. Time of Possession 35:36 31:10 14 50 24:24 | 28:50
3rd Down Conversion Pct 62.2% | 60.0% 4 6
23.3% | 12.0% 21 3
Sacks Allowed-Yards/By-Yards 1-6 | 2-12
7 | 27
3-27 | 7-59
79 | 17
Touchdowns Scored 13 15
2 | 2
Field Goals-Attempts 3-4 3-3
0-0 | 1-3
Red Zone Scores (15-16) 94%|(13-14) 93% 36 | 37
(2-2) 100%|(0-1) 0% 93 1
Red Zone Touchdowns (12-16) 75%|(10-14) 71% (2-2) 100%|(0-1) 0%
OFEI/DFEI N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Off. S&P+/Def. S&P+ N/A | N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A | N/A

After going 4-9 a year ago, Colorado has started the 2016 season with back to back wins. The Buffaloes beat in-state rival Colorado State 44-7 in the season opener and then topped Idaho State of the Football Championship Subdivision 56-7 on Saturday. Although Colorado won three of its first four games last season — and only won one of the remaining nine — it’s the way they’re getting it done this season that have those in Boulder excited.

Colorado ranks in the top 11 nationally in both scoring offense (11th) and scoring defense (sixth). Even better, they rank in the top seven nationally in both total offense (seventh) and total defense (first). This is a team that is getting it done on both sides of the ball.

The running game has been as consistent as it can be through the first two games. The Buffaloes rushed for 260 yards on 56 carries in Week 1 and 262 yards on 57 carries in Week 2. The 261 rushing yards per game ranks 20th nationally and are 48.5 more rushing yards per game than Michigan thus far.

The passing game has also been pretty consistent, throwing for 318 yards on 23-of-33 passes in the opener and 335 yards on 22-of-31 passes against Idaho State. Their 326.5 passing yards per game rank 17th nationally are 59.5 yards more than Michigan averages.

Consistency and balance have been the name of the game for Mike MacIntyre in this all important season if he hopes to keep his job. The Buffaloes have allowed just one sack, which ranks seventh nationally, and have converted 62.2 percent of their third downs. Only three teams — TCU (67.5), Ole Miss (62.5), and Toledo (62.5) — have converted more.

Defensively, first year defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt has his defense among the nation’s best to date. The Buffaloes have allowed just a touchdown in each of their first two games. Colorado State scored at the beginning of the fourth quarter after Colorado already had a 37-0 lead. Idaho State didn’t get on the board until 1:48 remained in the game when the Buffs lead 56-0.

Idaho State only managed 96 total yards, averaging 2.5 yards per carry and 1.5 yards per pass attempt. But this not only an FCS school, it’s one that went just 2-9 a year ago and currently ranks 78th in the FCS.

The win over Colorado State was slightly more impressive as the Rams were a bowl team a year ago with a 7-6 record. They’re at least comparative, and probably better than Michigan’s first two opponents, Hawaii and UCF. Colorado held CSU to just 225 total yards. While Colorado State only managed 63 passing yards, they averaged a respectable 4.6 yards per carry on 35 attempts. But they turned the ball over four times.

Michigan opened the week favored by 20 points. That line will likely come down slightly before Saturday, but Colorado isn’t exactly the pushover most thought they would be prior to the season. Just how real they are remains to be seen, but Michigan will need to put together a complete game to cover the spread.

#5 Michigan 51 – UCF 14: Speight tosses 4 TDs to slay Knights

September 11th, 2016 by Justin Potts


wilton-speight-vs-ucf(Katy Kildee MLive.com)

If Week 1 is for getting a chance to hit someone other than your teammates and show what all of the offseason preparation was for, Week 2 is for improving on what went wrong the previous week. Michigan looked nearly flawless in its season opening win over Hawaii a week ago but a little less so on Saturday against UCF. Still, it was enough to yield a 51-14 win.

There was no opening drive interception this time, but the offensive line had trouble run blocking and the defense allowed several big plays. After piling up 306 rushing yards in Week 1, Michigan rushed for just 119 yards on 2.9 yards per carry. The offensive line allowed eight tackles for loss, reminding many of the Brady Hoke days when Michigan struggled mightily to run the ball.

But it was clear that UCF’s defensive game plan was the load the box and force quarterback Wilton Speight — making just his second career start — to beat them with his arm. And that he did. Speight looked cool, calm, and collected all day, completing 25-of-37 passes for 312 yards and four touchdowns. He made smart decisions when needed and showed his ability to stand in the pocket and find an open receiver even while being hit.

um-ucf_small-final
Final Stats
Michigan UCF
Score 51 14
Record 2-0 1-1
Total Yards 447 331
Net Rushing Yards 119 275
Net Passing Yards 328 56
First Downs 23 15
Turnovers 0 2
Penalties-Yards 2-20 9-76
Punts-Yards 3-137 4-130
Time of Possession 34:25 25:35
Third Down Conversions 8-of-18 2-of-13
Fourth Down Conversions 3-of-4 2-of-5
Sacks By-Yards 3-18 2-12
Field Goals 3-for-3 0-for-2
PATs 6-for-6 2-for-2
Red Zone Scores-Chances 7-of-8 0-of-0
Red Zone Scores-TDs 4-of-8 0-of-0
Full Box Score

Jim Harbaugh left Speight and most of the starters in well into the fourth quarter despite a large lead, perhaps to send a message that they shouldn’t let up or perhaps just to get them as many reps as possible. But he was pleased with Speight’s performance.

“When the quarterback throws for four touchdowns and over 300 yards, that’s a great performance,” Harbaugh said after the game. “It wouldn’t be going out on a limb to say he’ll probably be our offensive player of the week.”

Michigan’s big three of Jehu Chesson, Amara Darboh, and Jake Butt were targeted often and combined for 16 catches for 281 yards and four scores, lead by Darboh’s career-high 111 yards. All three caught passes of at least 25 yards.

Defensively, Michigan was a bit Jekyll and Hyde, recording 10 tackles for loss and three sacks, but also giving up four runs of 26 or more yards, including a 87-yard touchdown run. That will certainly have Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett licking his chops, but there are still nine games to play before Michigan heads to Columbus.

UCF head coach Scott Frost was proud of the way his young team performed.

“It’s hard to say when the score is what it is, but we came in here and outhit those guys today,” Frost said. “Standing on the sideline, there was no doubt who was hitting harder. Our guys came in hungry and wanting to do that. It’s rare you can come into Michigan and rush for 300 yards on them. They had to run a fly sweep in the fourth quarter to get to 100.”

Whether UCF out-hit Michigan is up for debate, but regardless, it’s cold comfort for a team that lost by 37.

Two Michigan players who will never be out-hit by everyone lead the way for the Wolverines on defense. Michigan’s stars from New Jersey were impressive as Jabrill Peppers lead the team with eight tackles, including two for loss, and Rashan Gary notched six tackles, 2.5 for loss, and half a sack.

“I was itching for a sack this week,” Gary said after the game. “I didn’t get one last week and I felt like I owed the D-line. I missed one against Hawaii. And I said ‘I’m not going to miss’ if I get another opportunity.”

At 2-0, Michigan has outscored its opponents 114-17 with one non-conference game remaining. Colorado (2-0) comes to town next Saturday before the Big Ten slate begins the following week.

Game ball – Offense

Wilton Speight (25-of-37 for 312 yards, 4 touchdowns)
In just his second career start, Speight displayed the poise of a veteran, completing 25-of-37 passes for 312 yards and four touchdowns. With UCF stacking the box to stop the run, Michigan used the play-action passing game to pull away early. Speight threw two touchdown passes to Jake Butt and one to Amara Darboh in the first 20 minutes of action and added another to Darboh in the fourth quarter. Through two games, Speight has completed 70 percent of his passes (35-of-50) for 457 yards, seven touchdowns, and one interception.

Previous
Week 1 – Chris Evans (8 carries, 112 yards, 2 touchdowns)

Game ball – Defense

Rashan Gary (6 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks)
The No. 1 overall recruit in last year’s class didn’t take long to make his presence felt. While he notched three tackles in his first career game last week, he didn’t record a tackle for loss or a sack. That changed on Saturday against UCF. He finished second on the team with six tackles and 2.5 of those were behind the line of scrimmage. He also recorded his first career sack, which he combined with Ben Gedeon. With Taco Charlton out due to an injury he suffered last week, Gary will continue to get plenty of playing time and he has lived up to the hype so far.

Previous
Week 1 – Mike McCray (9 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble)

M&GB staff predictions: UCF

September 9th, 2016 by Justin Potts


StaffPicks_banner20152

Michigan disposed of Hawaii in Week 1 and the schedule doesn’t get any tougher this week with the UCF Knights coming to town. Joe was the winner of our picks last week with his prediction of Michigan 49 – Hawaii 3. Here are our picks for this week:

Justin
Staff Predictions
Michigan UCF
Justin 56 13
Derick 56 7
Sam 50 3
Josh 51 10
Joe 54 7
M&GB Average 53 8

Michigan had no problem steamrolling Hawaii, and although UCF currently leads the nation in points allowed (zero) they haven’t been tested. South Carolina State was an FCS school that was predicted to finish fourth in its conference this season. Michigan should have similar success moving the ball as it did a week ago. UCF’s defense actually ranked worse than Hawaii’s last season and they hired an offensive-minded coach who runs an up-tempo scheme. That’s all good when they’re scoring like Oregon does, but when they aren’t, that puts their defense on the field for a long time.

Michigan will have another big day on the ground and continue to work on getting Wilton Speight comfortable commanding the offense. Defensively, Michigan will slow down the spread and hold UCF to a field goal in the first half.

After last week’s injuries to Bryan Mone, Taco Charlton, and De’Veon Smith, Harbaugh won’t risk leaving the starters in longer than he has to in this one. Expect to see a lot of young guys in the second half. When all is said and done Michigan’s backups will give up a few points but it will be another comfortable win for the Maize and Blue.

Michigan 56 – UCF 13

Derick

Michigan simply overwhelmed Hawaii, and I think we’ll see something similar this weekend. UCF was even worse than Hawaii last season and is coming off its first win in about 20 months.

Teams like Tennessee and Michigan State showed us what happens to teams that look shaky against bad competition, so Michigan can’t afford to let UCF hang around.

The offense will be too much for the Knights and the defense should be swarming around the backfield once again. Scott Frost will have some film of Don Brown’s defense at Michigan, but it shouldn’t help much. Michigan will win big.

Michigan 56 – UCF 7

Sam

Did you see last week’s game? Tomorrow should be deja vu.

Michigan 50 – UCF 3

Josh

We’re still in the part of our schedule where Michigan plays opponents who aren’t in the same league, and Harbaugh coached teams will beat the teams they’re supposed to beat, so in lieu of a normal prediction (Michigan is going to win big) I’d like to touch on couple things I’d like to see out of our boys in Maize & Blue.

On offense: I’d like to see the running game get going early again. Yes, I want to see more of Chris Evans just like you but I’d also like to have it open up the play-action pass game. Which leads to my next item: I want to see Speight throw it 20-plus times. He was good in his small sample size last week and I have no problem with back-ups getting game time in blowouts, but I think Speight needs as many game reps as possible before teams like Penn State and Wisconsin come to town. Of course, Jim Harbaugh may not agree with me but I’d like to see Speight sling it around some more anyway.

On defense: After the injury scares to Taco Charlton and Bryan Mone (it appears both will be back by conference play) it will open up more playing time (and should become a blessing in disguise) for guys like Rashan Gary, Michael Dwumfour, and Michael Onwenu (who oddly are both No. 50). Gary showed off his lightning quick first step and strength but did not register any tackles for loss. Mercy rules were apparently in effect as he was held numerous times. With more snaps, and perhaps less of a blowout, I’d like to see him finally knock down a quarterback and register that first sack (of what should be many more to come). Hawaii got some momentum going late in the first half with their dink and dunk slant game, and I’m interested to see what adjustments Don Brown makes on that front because Scott Frost most definitely saw that and will look to exploit it.

UCF isn’t very good. This won’t be much of a game for long, and that’s fine. Michigan will pick up where they left off last week and continue to get the younger guys as many snaps as possible. Michigan wins big as Harbaugh is reminded of Scott Frost’s denigration of the 1997 Michigan team and keeps his foot on the gas until midway through the fourth quarter. UCF gets a late touchdown against the third stringers in garbage time to help them reach double digits.

Michigan 51 – UCF 10

Joe (1)

Teams are supposed to show the most improvement between weeks one and two, so this one should be fun to watch. I’m very interested to see how the quarterback play improves from Week 1. I don’t see much throwing in the second half due to a big lead so the first half will have most of my attention. I think this one gets ugly early and Michigan continues to roll. The offense looks solid behind a new crowd favorite at running back. Chris Evans looks like a stud but will obviously share some carries this week. Look for him to get into the end zone twice more.

The defense looks “as advertised” and is ELITE. They get after the quarterback and force several turnovers and a pick-six. Michigan wins big.

Michigan 54 – UCF 7

#5 Michigan vs UCF game preview

September 9th, 2016 by Justin Potts


um-ucf-game-preview-header(MGoBlue.com)

Previously this week: First Look: UCF, Five-Spot Challenge, Tailgate Tuesday, Week 1 Big Ten power rankings, UCF game poster, The numbers game: run game makes big plays in Week 1

Long before Nebraska was a member of the Big Ten and long before the College Football Playoff was in the realm of possibility there existed a blonde little quarterback for the Cornhuskers named Scott Frost. He lead Nebraska to a perfect 13-0 record, beating Peyton Manning’s Tennessee in the Orange Bowl.

But with two polls — the AP and the Coaches — voting to decide the national champion, Frost made a plea to rank the Cornhuskers ahead of Michigan, which had also gone unbeaten. Entering the bowl games, Michigan topped both polls, had better performances against two common opponents (Colorado and Baylor), and had won every game convincingly. Nebraska barely survived an early November game against a 6-3 Missouri squad on a kicked pass play that by rule was illegal.

um-ucf_small
Quick Facts
Michigan Stadium – 12p.m. EST – ABC
UCF Head Coach: Scott Frost (1st season)
Coaching Record: 0-1
Offensive Coordinator: Troy Walters (1st season)
Defensive Coordinator: Erik Chinander (1st season)
Last Season: 0-12 (0-8 AAC)
Last Meeting: First meeting
All-Time Series: First meeting
Record in Ann Arbor: First meeting
Jim Harbaugh vs UCF First meeting
Last Michigan win: First meeting
Last UCF win: First meeting
Current Streak: First meeting
UCF Schedule to date
Opponent Result
South Carolina State W 38-0

Had a playoff existed back then, it would have been a salivating matchup. Nebraska had one of the nation’s best offenses. Michigan’s calling card was its defense lead by Heisman Trophy winner Charles Woodson. But while Michigan players and coaches took the high road, Frost made his case for the Cornhuskers to be named national champions.

“If you can look yourself in the mirror and say if your job depended on playing either Michigan or Nebraska to keep your job, who would you rather play?” he asked. He also tugged at the heart strings of the coaching brotherhood, arguing that legendary head coach Tom Osborne — who was retiring — shouldn’t have to go out without a national title.

I had a chance to ask Osborne about just that a couple years ago and, naturally, he dismissed it as nonsense.

“I don’t know that somebody would vote for a national champion because you’re retiring,” Osborne said. “Maybe somebody did, I don’t know, but since we had won some national championships recently, not long before that, I would somewhat discount that thought.”

Regardless, it worked and Nebraska was awarded a share of the national championship from the Coaches Poll while Michigan was named number one by the AP Poll.

Frost never got a chance to play Michigan while in Lincoln, but 19 years later he’ll visit Ann Arbor on another opposing sideline, this time as the head coach of Central Florida. And while he surmised that Nebraska would be favored by as many as 14 points if they had faced Michigan back then, his UCF Knights enter the Big House as 37-point underdogs.

Just two years removed from a 12-1 season that ended with an upset of 6th-ranked Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl, UCF went 0-12 last season. That spelled the end for George O’Leary and the beginning of the Frost era in Orlando. Frost spent seven years as an assistant at Oregon, learning Chip Kelly’s offense and then coordinating it after Kelly left for the NFL. In his three years as offensive coordinator, Oregon’s offense ranked no worse than fifth nationally in both total offense and scoring offense and the Ducks went 79-15 during his time in Eugene.

How quickly can he bring that winning mentality to UCF? With the abundance of talent at his doorstep, he’ll be able to recruit well, but it will take some time. He did, however, start off on the right foot with a 38-0 win last week. But it was over FCS school South Carolina State, who went 7-4 in 2015, and although the Knights’ offense piled up 462 yards — more than any game last season — it came in fits and spurts. They didn’t score a touchdown until right before halftime and lead just 18-0 at the break before pulling away in the second half. Michigan will be a much different animal.

Let’s take a look at the matchups.

When UCF has the ball

To say that Frost will have his work cut out for him is putting it lightly. While Oregon ranked fifth nationally in total offense last season (538.2 yards per game), UCF ranked dead last (268.4). While Oregon ranked fifth in scoring (43 points per game), UCF ranked 125th (13.9). While Oregon ranked fifth in rushing (279.9 yards per game) and 36th in passing (258.3), UCF ranked 126th (81.3) and 102nd (187.2).

It helps to have an athletic quarterback returning, even if he didn’t put up enviable numbers in 2015. Senior Justin Holman completed 50.8 percent of his passes for 1,379 yards, seven touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. And although he lead UCF to a win last week, he completed just 50 percent of his passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns for a quarterback rating of 31.0. Backup Nick Patti, who converted from wide receiver, completed 5-of-7 for 48 yards.

If there’s a sliver of hope for UCF’s offense it is that nearly every pass catcher is back, though Patti takes his 104 yards and one touchdowns over to the quarterback position. But he ranked ranked eighth on the team in receiving in 2015. Redshirt sophomore Tre’Quan Smith is clearly the leader at the receiver position after a debut season in which he caught 52 passes for 724 yard and four touchdowns. His 4.3 receptions per game were good enough to rank 10th in the American Athletic Conference despite UCF’s offense being the worst. He lead the way last Saturday with four catches for 65 yards and a touchdown. Twelve different Knights caught a pass including sophomore Tristan Payton, who was the team’s second-leading receiver in 2015. The former four-star recruit, who Frost expects to break out this season, caught three passes for 34 yards and a score last week. Redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Akins hauled in a 35-yard catch.

The running game ranked third-to-last nationally in 2015, but last year’s leading rusher, C.J. Jones, has set his sights high for 2016.

“We want our whole backfield to lead the nation in rushing,” he said. “When you look at UCF and you look at rushing yards, we want to be at the top.”

When you look at the type of running game Frost guided at Oregon you can see that it’s not a completely unreasonable goal. But it’s certainly too much to ask for in Year 1. Jones led the Knights with 339 yards on 3.6 yards per carry last season with one touchdown, but didn’t record a stat last weekend. His backfield mate, sophomore Taj McGowan, who rushed for 262 yards on 3.1 yards per carry and one score a year ago, managed 48 yards on 11 carries last week. True freshman Jawon Hamilton lead the team with 53 yards on 14 carries.

The offensive line returns 42 starts from last season. Senior center Jason Rae is the most experienced of the bunch with 17 career starts, while junior right guard Chavis Dickey — who started just three games in 2015 — is the second most experienced with 15 career starts. Dickey has the best size of any of them at 6-foot-4, 330. Redshirt junior left tackle Aaron Evans started all 12 games a year ago. Redshirt sophomore right tackle Wyatt Miller (nine career starts) and sophomore left guard Tyler Hudanick (10 career starts) are the other starters.

When Michigan has the ball

While the offense has hope for improvement thanks to Frost’s offensive background, the defense returned just five starters from a unit that was one of the country’s worst last season. Frost brought Oregon outside linebackers coach Erik Chinander to Orlando with him. Chinander was a graduate assistant for the Ducks from 2010-12 and went to the Philadelphia Eagles with Chip Kelly, but came back to Oregon after the 2013 season. He promised to bring an “aggressive, high-energy, high-effort” defense to UCF.

The Knights ranked 113th nationally in total defense (464.1 yards per game), 117th in scoring defense (37.7 points per game), 100th against the run (199.2 yards per game), 109th against the pass (264.9 yards per game), and 126th in pass efficiency defense (166.95).

Frost added three junior college transfers to bolster the defensive line. However, two of them — projected starting end Chris Mulumba as well as tackle Joe Sanders — didn’t stick with the team. To add to the problems along the line, former three-star end Monte Taylor was dismissed from the team.

Junior nose guard Jamiyus Pittman is the most experienced returning member of the line. The Moultrie, Ga. native started 11 games last season and ranked sixth on the team in tackles with 45. His seven tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks are the most of any returning Knight. He recorded just one tackle in the season opener against South Carolina State. The other tackle is redshirt junior Tony Guerad, who recorded 28 tackles, five for loss, and two sacks in seven games a year ago. He also notched just one tackle last Saturday.

Like the defensive line, only one full-time starter returns at the linebacker position after the loss of leading tackler Domenic Spencer. Redshirt junior inside linebacker Chequan Burkett started all 12 games in 2015 and ranked third on the team with 56 tackles. He also led all players with five quarterback hurries. His five tackles last week ranked second on the team. Joining him in the middle will be fifth-year senior Mark Rucker, who entered the season with just 24 total tackles in his career — nine of which came in last year’s season opener against Florida International. Despite standing just 5-foot-7, Rucker lead the team with six tackles last Saturday. The outside linebackers are redshirt junior Shaquem Griffin and fifth-year senior Errol Clarke. Griffin is relishing the opportunity to step into a bigger role this season and recorded six tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble last week.

The secondary is where the experience lies with four senior starters. Free safety Drico Johnson broke out last year as the team’s second-leading tackler with 64. He had eight or more tackles in five of the Knights’ 12 games and recorded four tackles last week. Seniors Shaquill Griffin and D.J. Killings are the starting corners. Griffin — the brother of linebacker Shaquem — recorded 50 tackles last season and led the team with 13 pass breakups, which ranked in the top 25 nationally. Although he didn’t make a tackle in the season opener, he picked off a pass. Killings started seven games last season while battling injuries and totaled 32 tackles. He notched four tackles, one for loss, and a pass breakup last week. The other starting safety is fifth-year senior T.J. Mutcherson, who transferred from Iowa State prior to last season and recorded two tackles in the opener.

The other third

UCF returns both kicking specialists from last season. Redshirt sophomore kicker Matthew Wright connected on 13-of-17 field goal attempts in 2015 with a long of 48. He made all four attempts last Saturday from 46, 34, 45, and 37 yards. Fifth-year senior punter Caleb Houston averaged 44.2 yards per punt a year ago with just two touchbacks and 28 downed inside the 20. Last Saturday, he booted three punts for a 44.7 average and downed all three inside the 20.

Sophomore receiver Tristan Payton is back to return kicks after averaging 24.2 yards per return with a long of 35. He already topped that with a 47-yard return last weekend. Redshirt junior defensive back Chris Johnson handled punt return duties last week, returning four for 46 yards with a long of 21.

Prediction

Michigan had no problem steamrolling Hawaii, and although UCF currently leads the nation in points allowed (zero) they haven’t been tested. South Carolina State was an FCS school that was predicted to finish fourth in its conference this season. Michigan should have similar success moving the ball as it did a week ago. UCF’s defense actually ranked worse than Hawaii’s last season and they hired an offensive-minded coach who runs an up-tempo scheme. That’s all good when they’re scoring like Oregon does, but when they aren’t, that puts their defense on the field for a long time.

Michigan will have another big day on the ground and continue to work on getting Wilton Speight comfortable commanding the offense. Defensively, Michigan will slow down the spread and hold UCF to a field goal in the first half.

After last week’s injuries to Bryan Mone, Taco Charlton, and De’Veon Smith, Harbaugh won’t risk leaving the starters in longer than he has to in this one. Expect to see a lot of young guys in the second half. When all is said and done Michigan’s backups will give up a few points but it will be another comfortable win for the Maize and Blue.

Michigan 56 – UCF 13