Every week there seems to be a story regarding the University of Michigan football team and it’s opponent before they even take a snap. I’ve got a feeling that’s exactly how Jim Harbaugh likes it.
This week, the Colorado Buffaloes return to the Big House for the second time since “the Miracle in Michigan,” and they aren’t coming quietly. Trolling Harbaugh and the team, the Buffaloes released a depth chart with fake names in retaliation to Harbaugh not releasing one. Next, they started a pretty humorous twitter war with the Michigan social media staff that took a jab involving the Hailmary pass that beat Michigan back in 22 years ago. That should be enough to get the boys blood flowing.
Rushing Offense against Colorado
Last week against UCF, Scott Frost opted to load the box and make Michigan one-dimensional. I doubt we see the same game plan from the Buffs.
Colorado has given up 197 yards and zero scores on the ground. Led by linebacker Kenneth Olugbode and defensive tackles Jordan Correll and Josh Tupou, the Buffalo defense has been above average.
Michigan struggled to run the ball last week but so would any team that faced eight and nine man fronts all day. Expect the same depth chart but more success Saturday.
The Wolverines went with tight end turned fullback Khalid Hill to tote the rock last week while close to the goal line (He’s slowly becoming this year’s Sione Houma).
- Advantage: Michigan
Wolverine offensive lineman struggled some against UCF because they were outmanned upfront. That only opened up the passing game, where Michigan thrived. Colorado will be a tougher all-around opponent but still no match for the Michigan athletes
Passing Offense against Colorado
Colorado has a stud in their defensive backfield by the name of Chidobe Uwuzie. Uwuzie is a potential first round draft pick if he plays well this season. Last season he lead the team with 85 tackles and is on track to do the same this season, already leading with 10 tackles and two pass breakups. The Buffalos have only allowed 124 yards passing so far this season and he’s been a big part of it. But how good was the competition?
The bad news for Colorado is the fact that Michigan has more than one weapon that Uwuzie will need to cover. If he’s locked on Jehu Chesson then who’s going to cover Amara Darboh/Jake Butt/Grant Perry? The list goes on.
Wilton Speight is becoming more and more comfortable in the pocket. Michigan relied on his arm last week and he did not disappoint. If any teams game plan is to come in and expect Speight to freeze up, they’ve got another thing coming. Already playing in front of the most fans in the country, Speight will be battle tested by the time big games come along later in the season.
- Advantage: Push
Colorado hasn’t faced the caliber of quarterback or receiver that they will face Saturday but you can’t overlook allowing just 124 yards through two division-I football games. Both sides will be ready and this will be the matchup to watch on the day
Rushing Defense against Colorado
Colorado is running an up-tempo offense, averaging around 88 snaps per game. The leading rusher is junior Phillip Lindsay. He’s accounted for 125 yards and four touchdowns.
Over the years, Michigan has had a problem with the mobile quarterback. Colorado senior quarterback Sefo Luifau is someone that must be accounted for on each and every play. He’s averaging six yards a carry and is able to turn broken plays into first downs.
The Wolverine defense may be a little too aggressive against the run in some instances. Just last week, they gave up runs of 30, 35 and 87 yards. These mistakes could be costly if not addressed appropriately (which I’m sure they were).
With Jabrill Peppers and Mike McCray making plenty of stops in the middle of the defense, they must stay disciplined and play assignment football against a team with athletes able to make big plays.
- Advantage: Michigan
Michigan gave up a lot of long runs last week and that can’t continue to happen. The issues were addressed in the film room and if they aren’t executed on the field, the Wolverines could be in for a long afternoon. Expect discipline and stellar tackling throughout the day. We’ll give the slight edge to Michigan until they show us differently.
Passing Defense against Colorado
Quarterback Sefo Luifau has lead one of the most efficient offenses in the country thus far. He’s completed just over 74% of his passes and has yet to throw an interception. He’s yet to face a defense the caliber of Michigan’s, but does have plenty of experience playing against solid competition over the past three seasons. Luifau should face plenty of pressure this weekend, causing him to make quicker decisions potentially causing that first interception.
Luifau’s favorite target seems to be junior wide receiver Devin Ross. He’s a smaller guy at 5’9’’ but makes plays with the ball in his hands. He’s scored in each contest this season with a long of 31 yards.
The Michigan secondary has given up just 207 yards through two games and that’s without their best cover corner, Jourdan Lewis. We won’t know if Lewis will suit up this weekend but it’s clear there is a couple of guys back there in the secondary ready to step up. Senior cornerback Jeremy Clark leads the team in pass breakups with two.
- Advantage: Michigan
Luifau might be showing flashes this season but he has yet to face a defense as stingy as this Michigan squad. The game will speed up on him, and we’re willing to bet he doesn’t have as much success this weekend as he did prior to stepping foot in the big house.
Prediction: Michigan 37- Colorado 17
This matchup might be closer than some expect. This will be Michigan’s toughest test of the season so far. Colorado has some athletes that will test Michigan’s skill positions and that’s exactly what they need heading into the B1G season.
Photo Credit: Doug Pensinger/PacificTakes
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