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!
- 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.
Week Four College Football TV Schedule