Despite losing its first Game of the season, Michigan already looks like a better team than a season ago. Jim Harbaugh has his defense playing consistently well and the ground Game running through lesser opponents. The Wolverines host a tough BYU squad as a -5.5 point favorite (seen at 5 Dimes Sportsbook) at The Big House.
Michigan has faced a couple creampuffs in its last two Games as two-plus touchdown favorites in both. This Game will be a little different with BYU coming in as a Top 25 team. A win for the Wolverines could possibly see them enter the Top 25 themselves.
BYU enters this Game as yet another underdog, its Fourth-straight such occurrence to start the season. The Cougars won their first two Games outright and then were minutes away from taking down UCLA on the road last weekend.
Michigan’s defense has dominated the last two Games, holding both Oregon State and UNLV to seven points, but BYU presents a different challenge. Even though quarterback Tanner Mangum is a freshman and started the season as the team’s backup, he’s played well so far against top competition. UCLA kept him in check for the most part, limiting Mangum from making big plays, whether through the air or with his feet. Michigan will have to do the same if they want to cover, or even win this Game.
In their first Game, the Wolverines had trouble dealing with the mobility of Travis Wilson, who rushed for 51 yards. However, they followed that up by stopping the even more athletic Seth Collins (Oregon State) from doing anything on the ground. In his first two Games, Mangum had multiple big plays of 20-plus yards, but UCLA didn’t allow any. That will be Michigan’s first task. If they can limit Mangum’s big plays, and force BYU to win with shorter passes and running the ball, the Wolverines will have the edge.
It’ll be interesting to see who can win the battle in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Michigan’s defensive line has been stout so far and their ground Game has been a bit inconsistent, but successful for the most part, especially the last two Games. De’Veon Smith couldn’t get anything going against the Beavers, but Michigan mixed things up with the speedy Ty Isaac and that opened up some lanes, including a 76-yard touchdown run.
BYU was just gashed by Paul Perkins for 219 yards on 8.4 yards per carry and now the Cougars have to travel across the country for another road Game against a team that will look to pound the ground Game just as much. If the Cougars can’t stop Smith and Isaac, this will be a tough Game for them to win because Michigan will just keep doing that. Harbaugh realized early that it was best to pass as little as possible with Jake Rudock for this offense to be successful.
Still, considering the lack of a passing attack for Michigan, the line seems a bit big for them, although the Wolverines are a public team. As long as BYU isn’t too tired from back-to-back road Games across the country, they should be able to keep things close much like they did against the Bruins.
Our Pick – Willing to take any points available here in what looks to us like a competitive Game. No question BYU can win this one straight up and when that’s the case, we always want to be taking points. BYU +5.5