Breaking it down: Michigan in search of statement win over BYU
Who: No. 22 BYU vs. Michigan
When: Saturday, 12 p.m. ET
Where: Michigan Stadium, Michigan
Spread: Michigan -5.5
Matchup to watch: Tanner Mangum vs. Michigan secondary
The “freshman” sensation thrust his way into the national spotlight by pulling off Hail Mary’s in back-to-back victories in his first two games replacing the injured Taysom Hill. For a Wolverines secondary that might’ve initially been licking its chops when Hill went down against Nebraska, Mangum has certainly made them think otherwise. His mobility and big arm will present a challenge the likes of Channing Stribling, who had arguably the best game of his career last week, and Jabrill Peppers haven’t seen this year. The Wolverines teed off against a couple of weaker quarterbacks in their home blowouts. Saturday will be a different challenge.
Thing I’m excited for: A meaningful game in the Big House
Do you think that sounds harsh? Tell me the last time Michigan had a chance to legitimize its progress against a quality team. November of 2013 — arguably the turning point of the Brady Hoke era after the 29-6 drubbing at Michigan State — was the last time the Wolverines cracked the Associated Press poll. I’m not saying Michigan is a top-25 team if it takes care of BYU. But this is a chance for the Wolverines to legitimize the rise they’ve been hyping up. UNLV and Oregon State are expected wins. It’s hard to get too giddy over beating either of those teams. Michigan has a chance to beat a ranked BYU team that has been all over the national spotlight. That’ll make Saturday’s atmosphere unlike anything we’ve seen in Ann Arbor recently.
Number to remember: 1
BYU is tied for first in the country in interceptions with seven. What has Michigan starter Jake Rudock done far too often? Throw interceptions. He’s been picked off five times and doesn’t appear settled in Jim Harbaugh’s offense yet. Harbaugh knows the likes of Kai Nacua and Harvey Langi are more than capable of making that trend continue. The passing game plan will likely remain conservative, with an even greater emphasis on establishing the run. De’Veon Smith and Ty Isaac could both wind up with upwards of 15-20 carries by the time this one is in the books. Don’t expect the Wolverines to put it all on their struggling quarterback to beat a talented BYU secondary.
Prediction: Michigan 24, BYU 21
I was surprised to see the Wolverines open as a 5.5-point favorite for this one, but I’m still rolling with them to take care of business. I don’t think either offense shines particularly bright. Mangum struggled against a fast defense like UCLA’s, which looks more like Michigan than Nebraska. I don’t think he’s able to use his legs and keep plays alive out of the pocket, and against the Wolverine secondary, that’ll be a problem. The Victors fend off a late BYU run and enter B1G play riding a three-game winning streak.