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Air Force

vs.

Michigan

College Football

Free Pick

9/16/17

Coming off a somewhat shaky result in which it didn’t cover, Michigan is home again for what could be a tricky matchup against Air Force. The Wolverines are hefty favorites as expected at -24.5 (at 5Dimes Sportsbook), but bettors will be more tentative after struggling to separate from Cincinnati last week.

In the game against the Bearcats, Michigan looked ready to roll to another huge win, but then the offense had trouble moving the ball and Cincy managed a couple touchdown drives. And so, even after scoring the final 19 points of the game, the Wolverines still failed to cover.

Air Force has only played once after getting a bye last week, so this will be the first real challenge for them of the season. The Falcons return a lot of players from the previous campaign in which they went 10-3, so that’s what backers will lean to as a 62-0 win over VMI doesn’t say much. And while they didn't play anyone as good as Michigan last year, none of their three losses were by more than nine points.

With Michigan’s offense still a work in progress, it may require the Wolverines to reach 40 or so points if it wants a chance to cover, which makes the spread seem a bit too big. Wilton Speight hasn’t improved much since last season and that’s what has kept the offense from being anything more, completing just 51.9% of his passes, overthrowing multiple receivers in the first two games. While the ground game has been solid behind Ty Isaac (247 yards), trying to cover games on that alone is difficult, especially when Speight stalls drives with poor passes.

For anyone backing the Wolverines, they’re likely counting on the defense to dominate, which means allowing 10 points or less. While they’ve been great according to the numbers, neither Florida nor Cincy’s offense is all that explosive. Air Force brings a much different attack through a triple-option that can be extremely troublesome for Michigan. Even though the Wolverines worked on it in the offseason, it’s still much different when you see it in person.

Arion Worthman beat out former starter Nate Romine for the gig at quarterback and he gives the Falcons a better arm to work with. The main guy out of the backfield to watch will be Timothy McVey, who has turned into Air Force’s biggest threat, already racking up 175 total yards in the first game. This offense got some big wins last year against legitimate teams in Boise State, Colorado State and Navy.

Our Pick - Michigan has one of the better defenses in the country, but expecting them to completely shut down the triple-option may be asking for a lot. The Falcons should move the ball enough to score a touchdown or two. For that to happen, Speight will need to finally wash off the early season rust or the running game has to completely dominate. Otherwise, this could be a similar result to last week’s win over Cincinnati. Air Force +23

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