Well, Michiganders week one is in the books and we were just one Western Michigan loss away from a perfect start to the season. Things escalate quickly this week with two stellar road games featuring the state’s flagship programs. The MAC programs in the state will be looking to get an upset over their B1G and SEC hosts. All of our teams are on the road this week, so unless you are one of the lucky few to travel this week, use this as your guide to where to find your favorite Michigan team from your couch this weekend.
Week 2 Games (Ranked in order of intrigue/watchability)
- #7 Michigan State @ #3 Oregon (6:30 p.m. Fox)
This isn’t just the headline game in this state, this is the headline game in the entire country this weekend. Top ten teams clashing, check. Contradicting styles, check. Conference bragging rights on the line, check. This is an absolute monster of a game early in the season that has a great chance at being important in the outcome of the inaugural College Football Playoff.
If you listen to the national coverage leading up to this game, you will hear all the talk of how this game will hinge on the Spartan defense vs the Oregon offense. While obviously true I think the match-up to watch is the Spartan offense against the Oregon defense, namely their front seven. The Ducks are going to get their points and if the pattern holds to what happens under Pat Narduzzi, defensive coordinator at MSU, the Ducks will score early. Narduzzi earns his money by being one of the best coaches in the nation at adjusting to an offense, after seeing their cards. It will be crucial for the Spartans to score early keeping their defense in it while they gain their bearings.
The Spartans struggled against Jacksonville State to establish a running game last week and they must get Jeremy Langford going this week. Connor Cook will get his yards through the air but a running attack will keep that clock running and hopefully cut into the offensive snaps for the Ducks. The health of Travis Jackson along the line will be interesting to watch and vital to the Spartans success. My heart wants to go with the Spartans but I feel Oregon at home has just too much speed and a system that works great. (Oregon 38-34)
2. Michigan @ #16 Notre Dame (7:30 p.m. NBC)
Outside of the Spartans game and USC vs. Stanford in Cali, this game rounds out the top three in the national slate. Add in the juice that because of Irish fear this series is ending for the time being and it is as juicy a match-up as this series has seen in a while. Did you know the Fighting Irish A.D. Jack Swarbrick broke off this series by handing a letter to Dave Brandon before the 2012 game? That’s right this guy couldn’t muster the testosterone to open his mouth and say he was running scared.
Getting back to the action on the field, each of these teams are coming off impressive victories against over-matched opponents last weekend. The Wolverines exorcised the demons of 2007 and rolled over Appalachian State, while the Fighting Irish welcomed Everett Golson back to the field and throttled Rice. Speaking of Golson, look for him to outdo his performance from 2012 in the first quarter alone. In 2012 he was pulled just before the end of the first half after going 3-8, with 30 yards and 2 interceptions. Tommy Rees was the winning quarterback in a 13-6 game that set football back a century.
The key to this game will be the much improved Michigan defense and how they perform against a Notre Dame offense that rolled last week. The defensive line of the Wolverines is scary and if they can get pressure on Golson and force mistakes, they improve the chances of a Wolverine victory greatly. I think the Wolverines offensive line continues to play well and Devin Gardner throws for 250 yards and Derrick Green adds 2 touchdowns in a Wolverine victory. (UM 27-21)
3. Central Michigan @ Purdue (12:00 p.m. ESPNews)
The Chippewas coming off a less than stellar victory over Chattanooga, travel to West Lafayette looking to avenge MAC rival Western Michigan. While falling behind to Chattanooga 16-0 was not an ideal way to start the season, the Chips’ defense allowing just 29 yards in the second half is nothing short of amazing. With players such as sophomore Tony Annese playing cornerback the Chippewas have drastically improved their defense over where it was two seasons ago.
This game has track meet written all over it. Each offense is weak at quarterback and rushed for more than 200 yards a week ago. The Boilermakers were gashed a week ago by a true freshman and the task gets even taller this week with University of Michigan transfer Thomas Rawls. The key to the Chippewas winning this game is being able to shut down Purdue’s quarterback Danny Etling. While he did throw two touchdowns a week ago in his first career win, he only completed 50% of his passes for 181 yards. The Chippewas have a better defense than Western Michigan and I will say they avenge the heartbreak from the 2007 Motor City Bowl and get a close win. (CMU 24-23)
4. Eastern Michigan @ Florida (4:00 p.m. SEC Network)
This game is easily the dud of the weekend. Unless Eastern can petition the University of Florida to allow them to do their now infamous, cinder block entrance, this game should only be used as background noise as you pre-game for the night games. The Eagles survived to beat FCS Morgan State last week, giving head coach Chris Creighton a win in his first game. While it was truly heart warming to see the kids from Eastern get to celebrate a victory, sadly the good news stops this week.
Florida and their slimy coach Will Muschamp played a single play last weekend, before having their game against Idaho rained out. The Gators have been less than impressive under Muschamp and are likely playing for his job this season. Quarterback Jeff Driskell has been inconsistent when healthy but has the talent to have a break-out season for the Gators this year. I’d love to pick the Eagles to beat an SEC team here, but staying within 28 points would be nice. It won’t happen. (Florida 52-6)
However, if the Eagles win there are unconfirmed reports that Bob O’Malley will in fact do the “naked UTSA punter”, so we got that to hold out for folks!