Other than a comfortable win against FCS competition, UConn has lost to Utah State, who later dropped a game to an FCS team themselves, and gotten absolutely dominated at home by a weak Syracuse team. While that’s all been going on, Michigan has dominated two uncompetitive opponents, and currently leads the country in EPA/play.
Let’s take a look at the odds and discuss some picks for the Huskies’ visit to Ann Arbor
Michigan Vs. UConn Odds
Currently, Michigan are favored by 46.5, and the points total is set at 58.5. Given each team’s recent results, the broad points spread should come as no surprise, but will the Wolverines really be able to run it up by that much?
Michigan Vs. UConn Prediction & Pick
Earlier, I mentioned the fact that Michigan leads the country in EPA. UConn, however, is 37th in this same metric, nowhere near Michigan’s current elite status, but much better than their record suggests- this game could potentially be a bit more competitive than expected. Particularly, their offense is tracking as closer to average, whereas their defense seems to have performed as badly as it seems on the surface.
Last week, Michigan played possibly the worst team in the country in Hawaii, yet failed to beat the visiting Rainbow Warriors by as much as Vanderbilt did at Aloha Stadium a week earlier. In fact, they narrowly failed to cover the same 46.5 point margin by which we’re seeing them projected to beat UConn. They also allowed a couple of scoring drives, which was surprising to many. One notable factor in last week’s game that we shouldn’t see going forward was the QB competition between JJ McCarthy and Cade McNamara, which McCarthy seems to have effectively put to bed, after not even playing out the full first half in a nearly-perfect showing against Hawaii.
Michigan’s willingness to rest the starters in a blowout and take their foot off the gas pedal is an important factor when assessing the spread for this game; I like the Huskies to cover 46.5. However the points total is a completely different story; even if Michigan sleepwalks through half of this game, they’ll be able to threaten that 58.5 point threshold all by themselves, as we saw last week. UConn scoring any points at all would make the over a pretty strong favorite, and I expect the Huskies to do just that- find one or two scoring drives after the win is out of reach, much like Hawaii did a week ago.
Michigan Vs. UConn Key Matchups
Check out the key matchups and mismatches for Michigan Vs. Uconn below.
Michigan Offensive Line vs. UConn Front Seven
Michigan’s offensive line was one of the team’s greatest strengths a year ago, as it allowed them to run the ball down almost any opponent’s throat en route to a Big Ten title and Playoff berth. This year, they have been tasked with replacing two starters from last year’s unit, but the program has not had any issues with depth at these positions in recent years, and newcomers Trente Jones (Right Tackle) and Olu Oluwatimi (Center) have been anchored by the returning starters.
UConn’s linebacking corps figure to be a relative strength this season, as their top-two tacklers from last year return, and have been joined by Kentucky transfer Marquez Bembry. Conversely, the defensive line is not in as good shape, after losing star DT Travis Jones to the NFL draft, and Lawl Ugnak to TCU. If UConn wants to keep this game remotely competitive, these are the players who will have to step up and stop Michigan from simply running downhill at will every snap of the game.
UConn Run Game vs. Michigan Rush Defense
Similarly to the previous key matchup, UConn is going to have to establish some sort of run game if they want to have any ability to stay in this matchup into the second half (or even second quarter, for that matter). That responsibility will be on the shoulders of Nathan Carter, who despite not scoring, had an outstanding game against Utah State, racking up an even 200 total yards on 21 touches, and was a relative bright spot vs. Syracuse as he rushed for 4.4 yards per carry.
Michigan’s defense, replacing last year’s star d-line duo of Aidan Hutchinson (the #2 overall pick in this year’s draft) and David Ojabo (pick #45, namely due to a serious injury), has been stout against the run, but not as dominant as it has been against the pass. The Wolverines have allowed 111 rushing yards per game on 3.1 yards per carry, which is very solid but not as utterly suffocating as the 125 passing yards they’re allowing, on just 50.9% completion. If the Huskies are going to stay in this game offensively, they’re going to have to do it on the ground, and Carter will have to be the man for the job.