Up in Ann Arbor, Michigan took care of business in week 1, methodically taking down Colorado state and covering a fairly large spread. Meanwhile, Hawaii got absolutely embarrassed on their own turf, as the visiting Vanderbilt Commodores, SEC competition but surely not a powerhouse, annihilated them to the tune of a 53-point margin of victory. Will the Rainbow Warriors step up to the tougher task of visiting the Big House, or will it be more of the same as last week- or even worse?
Let’s get into some odds and picks for this interconference Saturday night matchup
Michigan Vs. Hawaii Odds
Michigan is listed on most sportsbooks as a whopping 51.5 point favorite, which seems like a lot but isn’t too shocking considering a far inferior Vanderbilt team just beat Hawaii, by more than that, all the way out at Aloha Stadium. The points total is also an interesting one, checking in at 67.5 on most sources. Will Hawaii be able to contribute at all, or will Michigan cover the spread as well as be forced to try and hit the total all by themselves?
Michigan Vs. Hawaii Prediction & Pick
Last year’s Hawaii team was a passable 6-7, featuring a porus defense and a relatively high-flying offense. But the Rainbow Warriors endured a tumultuous offseason, during which scathing abuse allegations rained down on head coach Todd Graham, eventually forcing his resignation. The damage had been done, however, as 17 players entered the transfer portal. Key losses to the offense included QB1 Chevan Cordeiro, who transferred to conference rival San Jose State, as well as his top three receivers and the offense’s leading rusher, all of whom departed via a mix of graduation and transfers.
Michigan of course raced out to a strong start, finally beat Ohio State, and made the college football playoff after a dominating win in the Big Ten Championship. This year, the Wolverines return many of the key players from last season and are looking to run it back. The most key loss is that of the superstar edge duo, Aidan Hutchinson (the second overall pick in the NFL draft and Heisman runner up) and David Ojabo. Their absence will be mitigated by the addition of hyper-talented transfer Eyabi Anoma, who got his Wolverines career off to a strong start against Colorado State.
After each team’s outing last week, it’s hard to see how Hawaii puts up any points against Michigan, or how they’ll slow down the Wolverines’ attack. For these reasons, I’m going to predict Michigan to cover, although I do not advise betting significant amounts of money on such a bloated line. I’m also taking the under, as I’m not confident that Michigan will crack that 67 point threshold on their own, and I’m even less confident that they’ll get any help from Hawaii.
Prediction: Michigan to cover -51.5, u67.5
Michigan Vs. Hawaii Key Matchups
JJ McCarthy Vs. Cade McNamara
No, this isn’t a matchup that will play out on the field on Saturday, but it will impact the game nonetheless. The Michigan QB competition, which Jim Harbaugh has somewhat puzzlingly extended into the start of the season, will be a major motivating factor for McCarthy, who is getting the start after McNamara was given the first game to make his case. JJ will be looking to make a real statement, as he has to dethrone an incumbent who just won the Big Ten and beat Ohio State, en route to Michigan’s best season in over a decade. It’ll be particularly intriguing to see if he’s able to forge a connection with Ronnie Bell, who figures to be a star in Michigan’s offense as he returns after missing losing all of last season to a major injury; Bell caught only one pass for 9 yeards in Cade McNamara’s start last week. Because of this, don’t expect the offense to take their foot off of the gas pedal in the second half; McCarthy will look to use every second of game time to prove that he is the right man for the job, and this relentlessness is one reason I love Michigan to cover the spread.
Michigan Secondary Vs. Hawaii pass catchers
Michigan did retain a lot of starters from last year, but the defensive backfield is somewhat of an exception, as there is a good amount of outgoing talent. Similarly, Hawaii will have a lot of new faces in their receiving corps this season, so it’ll be interesting to see these two groups go against each other. Particularly, I’ll be interested to see how Hawaii’s new Head Coach Timmy Chang, one of the school’s most prolific passers of all time, will approach this somewhat newer-look Michigan defensive backfield. Jonah Panoke put up a very solid 101 yards across 7 catches last week against Vandy, and Jalen Walthall hauled in 5 catches for 61 yards as well; these two and others will look to build on their week one performances and make life tough for Michigan.