Michigan Vs. UConn: College Football Predictions with Betting Odds and NCAA Picks
by Trevor Whenham - 9/4/2010
This game terrifies me. It keeps me up at night. I bleed Maize and Blue, and I want a win. I need a win. I can’t handle another loss. Not in a season opener. Not at all, really. I, like every Michigan fan in the world, am feeling very fragile right now. And I’m hiding all the sharp knives just in case. More than any team on the planet, we need a win. So, will we get one?
Michigan should be unbeatable in the Big House – the Wolverines have the biggest home field advantage in the country. They have lost two of their last three season openers, though, and they lost their last three at home last year. They are playing a very tricky, experienced team - 16 returning starters – that is hungry to win the Big East, and has have a decent opportunity to do so after Pitt showed their vulnerability by losing their opener. A chance to step into the big time for the first time against a chance to return after a long absence - the stakes couldn’t be higher for either team.
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College Football Predictions: Offensive Matchup
The defense is a bit of a wash in this one because it’s not great for either team. Both teams have defensive lines that should be able to make some noise, they have some promising linebackers that need to take a step forward from last year, and they have secondaries that are really quite bad. Both teams have obviously been working hard on the defense, but neither of these teams will win by shutting down their opponents. UConn’s defense is probably better, but it’s not great, and certainly not difference-making. What matters, then, is which offense can make the bigger statement.
Michigan has a whole lot of potential on offense, but the challenge is to realize that potential - something that they struggled with last year. Their two true freshman QBs from last year are now sophomores. Tate Forcier was the No. 1 last year, and he’ll play this year, but it seems like speed demon Denard Robinson has moved to the top of the depth chart. He is deadly on his feet but last year he was terrible with his arm, so defenses could easily negate his impact. This year his passing is much stronger, and his confidence has taken a leap as a result. Both quarterbacks will likely play some time, and true freshman Devin Gardner - a guy with a bright future - might even play. Who ever takes snaps will be surrounded by a decent running line, a very deep stable of receivers, and a running game that is talented if unproven. As a running QB, Robinson might have the best chance of success because the Huskies have traditionally struggled against running quarterbacks. There’s little doubt that Michigan will be able to score some points.
Connecticut returns eight offensive starters, and their real strength is on the offensive line. Their big men are big and bruising, and they will be able to wear down the Michigan defensive line. They’ll open up holes for running back Jordan Toddman, a guy coming off a season of nearly 1,200 yards, and he should be able to have a good day. QB Zach Frazier is a fifth-year senior, but he has only started nine games. He’s not a very accurate passer, but that’s not as much of a problem against this secondary as it would be against a good one. Still, the Huskies are likely to find their most success from establishing their running game early to set the tone and keep Michigan’s potentially explosive offense off the field.
With two solid offenses going against two uncertain defenses there is a good chance that this game will turn into a shootout. Michigan has more offensive talent and potential, but UConn has accomplished more with what they have already.
Michigan vs. Connecticut Betting Odds and Line Movement
Michigan can be found as favorites of 2.5 or 3 points depending on where you look. The total is set at a reasonably high level of 54.5. Action is more solidly on Michigan - not surprising given that they are the more public team by far - but it’s not particularly one-sided, so it’s unlikely that we will see significant movement away from where the line is now. The total has been slowly rising since it opened, but isn’t likely to go significantly higher by kickoff.
Michigan vs. Connecticut Betting Trends
The teams have never played each other, so history isn’t relevant here.
A shootout doesn’t give either team an edge because they both fare well when scoring a lot - UConn is 33-7 ATS since 1982 when scoring 28 or more points, while Michigan is 72-30 ATS in the same situation over the same time frame. Michigan’s issue here is that they are just 2-11 ATS in the last three years when they allow 28 or more points.
Michigan vs. Connecticut Injuries
Michigan is reasonably healthy, though wide receiver Junior Hemingway, perhaps the most fragile player in the country, is questionable.
Connecticut has struggled with injuries this fall - especially on the defensive line.
Michigan vs. Connecticut Picks and Predictions
Not surprisingly, I like Michigan to win here. Despite my own desperation, though, there are a couple of good reasons for that. First, Michigan likely has a more explosive offense, and that’s going to be important in this game. Second, Rich Rodriguez came from the Big East, so he knows how to play against UConn. Huskies’ defensive coordinator Todd Orlando has been in the job since 2005, so Rich Rod knows what he likes to do, and has had plenty of success against him. Michigan’s defense has lost their two best players, but for the first time since 2004 they have the same defensive coordinator two years in a row, and I don’t think they will be as bad as expected - especially up front. They are definitely vulnerable in the secondary, but UConn isn’t a team built to exploit that. Michigan will win in a high scoring game that will go ‘over’ the total.
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