The Michigan Wolverines are trying to convince people that the Notre Dame game was a fluke. We’re going to have to wait a little while more to see if they are a better team than what they presented against the Irish in Week 1. The Wolverines played Western Michigan last week, a 49-3 blowout, and they welcome Southern Methodist to the Big House on Saturday afternoon. Neither of these games are going to prove much.
Blowing Western Michigan out of the water doesn’t do much to regain the confidence of Michigan fans, nor would a similar win against an undermanned SMU team. Michigan have to take what they can get, though, because their schedule is going to get difficult. They open Big Ten play against Nebraska next week, which the Wolverines should win, but a tricky game at Northwestern awaits in the following week. Michigan also have to travel to East Lansing and Columbus later in the year for their rivalry games.
The moral of the story for the Wolverines is that they don’t have much room for error after losing to Notre Dame. If they win out and finish with 1 loss on their resume, that’d likely be enough to reach the College Football Playoff. That scenario is going to be awfully difficult to pull off, though, especially having to go to Ohio State to play the Buckeyes. They are fortunate to have Penn State at home, but other than that, their toughest games are on the road in 2018.
Shea Patterson looked comfortable in the Michigan offense last week. He didn’t have to deal with Notre Dame, so that has something to do with it, but it’s important that he plays well against weaker opponents to get his confidence up. SMU opened strong against TCU last week, but a solid 1st quarter quickly went in the garbage pail. TCU were able to do whatever they wanted on offense, and SMU quarterback, Ben Hicks, was frustrated as he struggled to move the ball on the TCU defense. He doesn’t have much time to relax, because Hicks and the offense must deal with another test in Week 3. Head below for our free SMU vs. Michigan pick.
SMU Mustangs vs. Michigan Wolverines NCAAF Betting Odds:
vs. Michigan -35.5(-110)
Betting odds provided by Sportsbetting.ag
SMU vs. Michigan Pick:
SMU started out hot against the Horned Frogs last Friday night, but after a turnover the game came crashing down hard on the Mustangs. A 9-0 game turned into a blowout in the other direction following the Ben Hicks fumble. Hicks has a tendency to get frustrated when things aren’t going his way, and he is going to have to deal with a Michigan defense who are good at doing just that to opposing quarterbacks.
In their 49-3 win over Western Michigan last week, they held Jon Wassink to 85 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. Wassink is not a great quarterback, but he’s serviceable enough. Despite losing to Notre Dame in Week 1, the Michigan defense ranks amongst the best in college football. They finished 3rd with 269 yards allowed per game in 2017 and brought back the brunt of that defensive unit to this season.
Ben Hicks passed for 111 yards on 18-for-38 passing against TCU a week ago. It should be another long day for him at the Big House. There are going to be some growing pains as Sonny Dykes attempts to implement his system at SMU. Cortland Sutton is no longer there to bail Hicks out in the passing game.
The Wolverines had a big day on the ground against Western Michigan last week. Karan Higdon ran for 156 yards and a score, while Chris Evans went for 86 yards and 2 touchdowns. Patterson looked like a different quarterback against the Broncos, as he finished with 3 touchdowns through the air. I think he’ll settle in and be fine this season after struggling in his debut at Notre Dame.
Backup Dylan McCaffrey came in to complete an 18-yard pass for a score in garbage time. The offense should look relatively the same vs SMU on Saturday. The Mustangs ranked 122nd in the FBS with 487 yards allowed per game in 2017. They also allowed 35.5 points per game. This was with their best defensive player, Justin Lawler, who is now with the Rams in the NFL.
Michigan should be able to keep the offense simple and still gash SMU. If SMU has a chance of sticking around, it’s going to come down to Ben Hicks getting the passing game going. They’ve shown zero ability to do that without Sutton lining up at wide receiver. They’re also going into the teeth of one of the best defenses in college football at the Big House. Expect a 49-10 final score in favor of the Wolverines on Saturday afternoon in Ann Arbor.