Western Michigan Broncos at Michigan Wolverines
Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Saturday, September 3, 2011, 3:30 pm Eastern, TV: ABC or ESPN2
Opening Line: Michigan -14 1/2
Current Line: Michigan -14
Opening Total: 59 1/2
Current Total: 61
Opening Money Line: Michigan -450 / WMU +370
Current Money Line: Michigan -500 / WMU +400
After the failed Rich Rodriguez era Michigan hired Brady Hoke from San Diego St to turn around the program. Hoke’s first game as coach will be against in-state foe Western Michigan. The Wolverines lead the all time series against the Broncos 5-0. the last time the two teams played was in 2009 with Michigan winning 31-7 in Ann Arbor.
Michigan started off last season 5-0 before losing 6 of their last 8 games including getting crushed 52-14 by Mississippi St in the Gator Bowl. Western Michigan was 6-6 under coach Bill Cubit.
Western Michigan had one of the most prolific passing attacks in the country averaging 285.8 yards a game. Overall, the Broncos averaged 413.4 yards and 32.3 points a game. Junior Alex Carder returns at quarterback. Carder completed 63.1% of his passes for 3,334 yards, 30 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He also had 109 carries, 226 yards and 6 touchdowns. The running game was almost an afterthought last year but the Broncos do return their top 5 rushers including Carder from last season. Tevin Drake, Brian Fields, and Dareyon Chance will all get significant carries. Aaron Winchester who had 92 carries last year moves to the secondary this year. Senior receiver Jordan White returns after he had 94 catches, 1,378 yards, and 10 touchdowns last season. The Broncos do have to replace Juan Nunez who had 91 catches, 1,032 yards, and 10 touchdowns. Look for Robert Arnheim and Ansel Ponder to replace Nunez. Tight end Blake Hammond could also get some more catches.
The Western Michigan defense allowed 389.9 yards a game last year and 23.8 points a game. The entire defensive line returns and looks to improve an average pass rush. Linebacker Mitch Zajac led the team in tackles last year with 97. The secondary lost some veterans but will led by talented sophomore Lewis Toler.
Michigan had a top ten ranked offense with 489.1 yards a game last year including 238.9 rushing yards a game. The Wolverines scored 32.8 points a game last season. The offense will be led by junior quarterback Denard Robinson who was the teams leading passer and rusher last season. He completed 62.5% of his passes last year for 2,570 yards, 18 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He was even more dangerous with his legs, with 256 carries, 1,702 yards, and 14 touchdowns. Besides Robinson, the Wolverines return their top 3 running backs. Vincent Smith had 136 carries, 601 yards, and 5 touchdowns. Michael Shaw had 75 carries, 402 yards, and 9 touchdowns. Stephen Hopkins had 37 carries, 151 yards, and 4 touchdowns. All three contribute to the passing game as well. The three could get more carries as Hoke doesn’t want to risk getting Robinson injured with so many carries. Junior Roy Roundtree is the top returning receiver. Roundtree had 72 catches, 935 yards, and 7 touchdowns. Seniors Darryl Stonum and Junior Hemingway will also get significant receptions.
The Michigan defense was one of the worst in the country last year giving up 453.4 yards and 35.2 points a game. The defense looks to improve led by safety Jordan Kovacs, DE Ryan Van Bergen, and defensive tackle Mike Martin. If the defense doesn’t improve it could be another disappointing season fort eh Wolverines.
Michigan is 7-17 against the spread in the last 2 years. The Wolverines were 3-10 ATS last season including 2-5 at home. The over/under was 8-5 in Michigan games last year. Western Michigan was 5-5-2 last year including 3-2-1 on the road. The over/under was 7-5 last year including 4-2 on the road. Western Michigan is 2-9-1 ATS in their last 12 as a road underdog. The Broncos are 0-6-1 ATS in their last 7 non-conference games, including 0-4 against Big Ten teams. Michigan is 6-1 ATS in their last 7 non-conference games, but is 0-4 ATS in their last 4 home games.
Michigan should win this game handily in the big House. Expect tons of points as each team has a great offense and a mediocre defense.
Check out our college football odds page for the best line on every game. Our college football handicappers are getting ready to crush the bookmakers this season.