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Michigan vs. BYU Game Preview: Wolverines Seeking Jim Harbaugh's First Signature Win

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Wolverines have a chance to show they've returned to form in their non-conference finale.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan Wolverines (2-1) will take on the 22nd-ranked BYU Cougars (2-1) on Saturday afternoon at the Big House with a chance to grab the first big win of the Jim Harbaugh era.

The Wolverines have been making steady progress in a lot of areas in the first three weeks of the season. Now, they will try to put it all together in the finale of the non-conference slate of games.

In steps BYU, who has been one of the more intriguing teams in college football season. Their star quarterback, Taysom Hill, left the opener against Nebraska with a season-ending injury, but the Cougars have not missed a beat.

Freshman Tanner Mangum has come in and provided some magic at the quarterback position with big game-winning Hail Mary throws against the Cornhuskers and Boise State. He is not as mobile as Hill was, but can still make plays with his feet and boasts a big arm.

Michigan's defense will have its work cut out for them with Mangum's big play ability along with a tall, physical receiving corps that the Cougars feature, led by 6-foot-6 Mitch Matthews. Cornerback Jourdan Lewis said earlier this week that he thinks the Wolverines can have one of the best secondaries in college football and Saturday will be their chance to prove it.

Offensively, the Wolverines are going to do what the blueprint they've set in the last few weeks says they will do: run the football early and often. BYU's defense gave up 296 rushing yards in the loss to UCLA, so Michigan will look to exploit that. If the offensive line is able to create running lanes, they will be in good shape, as Michigan will be able to rotate De'Veon Smith, Ty Isaac and Drake Johnson to pace the rushing attack.

Jake Rudock has not been good so far this season, and he does not necessarily have to outplay Mangum, but he must take care of the football and get it to his playmakers. Jake Butt and Ian Bunting have shown flashes of being reliable options on offense, but the gameplan in recent weeks has not dictated they get the ball. Expect to see more of them Saturday, along with Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson.

As of this writing, Michigan is a 6.5-point favorite, per Vegas Insider. I have Michigan slightly edging out the Cougars by a score of 23-20. Make your prediction using the widget below!

Game Info

Teams: BYU vs. Michigan

Date: September 26th, 2015

Location: Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich. (107,601)

Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET

Television: ABC/WatchESPN

Radio: Michigan/IMG Sports Network (for a list of affiliates, click here)

Spread: Michigan -6.5

Fun Facts

  • This is the second meeting between BYU and Michigan. The Cougars won the lone previous matchup in the 1984 Holiday Bowl by a score of 24-17.
  • Former Michigan running back legend Rob Lytle will be honored during Saturday's game. He is set to be posthumously inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame this December.
  • Both Michigan and BYU will be wearing patches to raise awareness for Muscular Dystrophy research as part of the Coach to Cure MD effort across college football this weekend.
  • Michigan has allowed only one sack through three games this season and has converted on 43 percent of its third downs.

Hitting the Links: MnB's BYU vs. Michigan Coverage

9-25: Michigan vs. BYU Game Preview

9-25: Staff Roundtable: Michigan vs. BYU Predictions

9-24: S&P+'s Michigan-BYU Prediction: Wolverines by Seven

9-24: Michigan vs. BYU Matchups to Watch

9-24: Behind Enemy Lines w/ Vanquish the Foe

9-24: Best Bests: Look for 'Bama to Go Under the Total

9-23: The Michigan Man Podcast Episode 264: BYU Preview w/ Cougar radio voice Greg Wrubell

9-23: Getting to Know the BYU Cougars

9-22: Week Four Odds: Yes, the Wolverines are Favorites

9-21: Harbaugh Quick to Praise Defense, Firm About Rudock's Job Security

9-20: Michigan Opens as a Favorite Against BYU

9-20: Michigan Jumps to 25th in S&P+ Rankings

Week Four College Football TV Schedule

Thu, Sept 24, 2015
7:30 PM ET
ESPNWatchESPN
Cincinnati at Memphis
Fri, Sept 25, 2015
8:00 PM ET
ESPNWatchESPN
Boise State at Virginia
10:00 PM ET
FS1FoxSportsGo
(21) Stanford at Oregon State
Sat, Sept 26, 2015
12:00 PM ET
BTNBTN2Go
Kansas at Rutgers
12:00 PM ET
ABC
(22) BYU at Michigan
12:00 PM ET
BTNBTN2Go
Central Michigan at (2) Michigan State
12:00 PM ET
ESPNNWatchESPN
Southern Miss at Nebraska
12:00 PM ET
ESPN2WatchESPN
(20) Georgia Tech at Duke
12:00 PM ET
SECNWatchESPN
Southern at (10) Georgia
12:00 PM ET
ESPNUWatchESPN
UCF at South Carolina
12:00 PM ET
ESPNWatchESPN
(8) LSU at Syracuse
12:00 PM ET
CBSS
Navy at Connecticut
12:00 PM ET
BTNBTN2Go
Bowling Green at Purdue
12:30 PM ET
ESPN3WatchESPN
Delaware at North Carolina
12:30 PM ET
ESPN3WatchESPN
Indiana at Wake Forest
1:00 PM ET
ESPN3WatchESPN
Northern Illinois at Boston College
1:30 PM ET
PAC12Pac-12 Live
Nicholls State at Colorado
2:30 PM ET
Fox Sports Go
FIU at Louisiana Tech
3:00 PM ET
MWC Video
New Mexico at Wyoming
3:00 PM ET
FSNFoxSportsGo
Rice at (5) Baylor
3:00 PM ET
FS1FoxSportsGo
Maryland at West Virginia
3:30 PM ET
BTNBTN2Go
Ohio at Minnesota
3:30 PM ET
ABC/ESPN2WatchESPN
Western Michigan at (1) Ohio State
3:30 PM ET
BTNBTN2Go
San Diego State at Penn State
3:30 PM ET
ABC/ESPN2WatchESPN
(24) Oklahoma State at Texas
3:30 PM ET
ABC/ESPN2WatchESPN
Virginia Tech at East Carolina
3:30 PM ET
CBSSEC Live
Tennessee at Florida
3:30 PM ET
CBSS
Miami (OH) at Western Kentucky
3:30 PM ET
AMSN
Appalachian State at Old Dominion
3:30 PM ET
ESPNUWatchESPN
North Texas at Iowa
3:30 PM ET
ESPN3WatchESPN
Marshall at Kent State
3:30 PM ET
NBCNBC Sports Live Extra
Massachusetts at (6) Notre Dame
3:30 PM ET
ESPN3WatchESPN
Nevada at Buffalo
4:00 PM ET
SECNWatchESPN
Louisiana-Monroe at (12) Alabama
4:00 PM ET
ESPNNWatchESPN
Middle Tennessee at Illinois
4:45 PM ET
FOXFoxSportsGo
(3) TCU at Texas Tech
5:00 PM ET
PAC12Pac-12 Live
Cal at Washington
6:00 PM ET
ESPN3WatchESPN
Army at Eastern Michigan
6:00 PM ET
ESPN3WatchESPN
Samford at Louisville
7:00 PM ET
ESPNWatchESPN
(14) Texas A&M vs.
(Arlington, TX)
Arkansas
7:00 PM ET
ESPNUWatchESPN
Vanderbilt at (3) Mississippi
7:00 PM ET
ESPN3WatchESPN
Akron at Louisiana-Lafayette
7:00 PM ET
ESPN3WatchESPN
Arkansas State at Toledo
7:00 PM ET
AMSN
Florida Atlantic at Charlotte
7:00 PM ET
CBSS
Colorado State at Texas-San Antonio
7:00 PM ET
ESPN3WatchESPN
James Madison at SMU
7:30 PM ET
ESPN2WatchESPN
Mississippi State at Auburn
7:30 PM ET
ESPN2WatchESPN
(25) Missouri at Kentucky
8:00 PM ET
ESPNNWatchESPN
NC State at South Alabama
8:00 PM ET
ABC
(9) UCLA at (16) Arizona
8:00 PM ET
BTNBTN2Go
Ball State at (17) Northwestern
8:00 PM ET
ESPN3WatchESPN
Texas State at Houston
8:00 PM ET
BTNBTN2Go
Hawaii at Wisconsin
8:00 PM ET
CSLive Video
Incarnate Word at UTEP
8:30 PM ET
FOXFoxSportsGo
(18) Utah at (13) Oregon
9:00 PM ET
MWC Video
Idaho State at UNLV
9:00 PM ET
ESPN3WatchESPN
Georgia Southern at Idaho
10:30 PM ET
CBSS
Fresno State at San Jose State
10:30 PM ET
ESPNWatchESPN
(19) USC at Arizona State