Breaking it down: Wolverines hoping to build on dominant home opener
Who: UNLV vs. Michigan
When: Saturday, 12 p.m. ET
Where: Michigan Stadium, Michigan
TV: Big Ten Network
Spread: Michigan -34
Matchup to watch: Jabrill Peppers vs. Devonte Boyd
When Jourdan Lewis went down with a concussion in the second half on Saturday, Jabrill Peppers showed off his versatility. Maybe it wasn’t in the way Wolverine fans were hoping to see, but he switched to cornerback and did so successfully. With Lewis still working his way back, we could see Peppers in that same spot and matched up against UNLV’s top offensive weapon. Boyd was the only Rebel receiver to catch multiple passes against UCLA on Saturday. The former five-star recruit will be tasked with containing Boyd and the Rebel passing game. It’s only a matter of time before we see Peppers pick off his first pass. Why not Saturday?
Thing I’m excited for: De’Veon Smith in beast mode
Hey, something about Michigan’s offense is worth getting excited for! The Wolverine tailback will be worth the price of admission if he runs like he did last week against Oregon State. Smith is one of those runners that can do a lot of damage once he gets to the second level with a head of steam. The Michigan offensive line stepped up and created some holes for Smith to punish people. He isn’t nearly as effective when he has work east-to-west like he did against Utah. Against a UNLV defense that has allowed 535.5 yards per game, Smith should have plenty of open field ahead of him.
Number to remember: 121
Speaking of the Rebels’ average yards allowed, they rank 121st of 127 FBS schools in that category. With Michigan’s experienced offensive line, moving the chains shouldn’t be an issue. While everyone — me included — hyped last week’s defensive effort and the breakout game of Smith, it was another less-than-stellar performance from Jake Rudock. Jim Harbaugh basically squashed any idea that Shane Morris was threatening to take Rudock’s job by saying that Morris could redshirt this season. Against arguably the weakest defense Michigan will face, a successful, turnover-free game would be a welcome sight.
Prediction: Michigan 42, UNLV 3
Make it two straight dominating home victories for Michigan. Still, I think the Michigan running backs star in this one. The defense might not able to replicate the two yards it allowed after the first quarter last week, but Chris Wormley and Co. will have another big day and get some rest, too. The Wolverines will need to get out of this one healthy before BYU rolls into Ann Arbor.