Saturday, September 6, 2008

Week 2: Miami (OH) at Michigan

The second week of Michigan's 2008 football season will culminate with today's game against Miami University at Ohio. Michigan and Miami will both look to rebound from opening week losses and move to 1-1 on the season. Neither team is ranked in the AP or USA Today Top 25 polls, but in the CBS Sports Top 120, Michigan is ranked 39th and Miami is 75th. On this morning, Michigan was a 14.5 point favorite and clearly expected to win this contest. I'm inclined to agree, but Michigan's closer-than-they-should-be victories over MAC teams in recent years leaves me with a few questions about the match-ups for today's game.
  • Miami's Offense vs. Michigan's Defense. This should be the reason why Michigan wins the game. Their defense showed with little doubt that they are a force to be reckoned with in the second half of the game against Utah and Miami's offense only managed to score 13 points in their opener against a mediocre Vanderbilt team. Miami has some depth at running back, but their quarterbacks and wide receivers are extremely subpar. Advantage Michigan.
  • Miami's Defense vs. Michigan's Offense. I really hope that one more week of practice and conditioning can help bring Michigan's offense over the hump but in all likelihood, it will be more of the same from last week. I expect some turnovers and poor decisions by the pair of inexperienced quarterbacks but I'm hoping that creative play-calling and talent alone will be enough to overcome Miami's solid defense. Still, with talent and experience at most defensive positions, neither team has an advantage in this match-up. Even.
  • Miami's Nerves vs. The Big House. This is, without question, the most difficult game on Miami's schedule this year. While Michigan Stadium isn't exactly new territory for Miami (they've played against Michigan here in 1995, 2001, and 2004), they have never had success in the Big House and their narrowest loss was 38-19 in '95. I don't see that trend changing and in front of 106,000 angry Wolverines fans, it wouldn't surprise me to see a couple Miami players lose control of their bladders during warm-ups. Advantage Michigan.
Overall, this is one of the games on Michigan's schedule that they absolutely must win if they want to compete for a top 25 spot or continue their streak of consecutive bowl appearances. I liked what I saw at the end of the Utah game last week, but that was about all that I liked about it. There are still a ton of things to fix and kinks to work out before they will be able to compete against the best of the Big Ten. I believe that this game against Miami, though, will prepare them for the tests to come and be the first win of the Rich Rodriguez era. Prediction: Michigan 38, Miami (OH) 13.

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