After one Game, Michigan fans already have their backs against the wall. Entering the season with hopes of a playoff run or Big Ten title, the Wolverines fell in an uninspiring 24-17 loss to Notre Dame. Of course, the Irish are one of the best teams in the country, while this week’s opponent, Western Michigan, is not. The Wolverines opened as huge -28 point favorites with an over/under of 51.5 points at 5 Dimes Sportsbook.
Michigan should get back on track in this Game after Western gave up a whopping 55 points and 334 rushing yards to Syracuse in its first Game. The Wolverines looked stagnant against Notre Dame, but that likely won’t be an issue in this one and if all goes well, a minimum of 40 points is on the table. Shea Patterson will have a little more success against the Broncos and that should lead to his first touchdown in a Michigan uniform and possibly 300 passing yards. Then again, it’s possible the Wolverines focus heavily on their ground Game and give the ball to Karan Higdon as much as possible with 200 yards on the table for him. After getting thwarted by Syracuse, it’s hard to see this WMU defense that only returned Four starters having more success against a bigger team.
The only way to cover (and in turn hit the over 51.5 points) for Western is to score. The Broncos managed 42 points against the Orange, but Michigan is another animal and will probably be set on allowing less than 10 points after losing the opener. With guys like Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich on the line, the Wolverines will cause problems all day for WMU quarterback Jon Wassink.
The Broncos could have a decent offense this season with experience at every spot from quarterback to Four starters back on the line. But Wassink barely completed 50% of his passes against Syracuse and will have trouble hitting that mark against Michigan. The big plays they had against the Orange won’t be there after averaging 8.6 yards per carry and 19.9 yards per reception. LeVante Bellamy and Jamauri Bogan will both struggle to find room on the ground considering Notre Dame was at just 2.8 ypc as a team. To cover, Wassink needs to work magic with top receivers D’Wayne Eskridge and Jayden Reed.
Those are big asks, though, and Michigan’s defense will likely turn in a better performance than what it showed in the first Game. There are still some questions revolving around the offense and that was the main reason this team didn’t cover more Games last year. In similar spots back in 2017, the Wolverines beat teams like Cincy (36-14) and Air Force (29-13), but couldn’t blow either of them out. If Patterson can’t get the offense going, it could be another frustrating performance that leads to a 20-point, non-covering win for Michigan.
Our Pick – Western Michigan +28