(16) Michigan at Illinois
Time: 11 AM CST
Spread: MICH -20.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
For all the talk of an overrated team following its 14-35 loss to Wisconsin, the Michigan Wolverines have rebounded fantastically. Following its defensive meltdown in Week 3, it held its last to opponents, Rutgers and No. 14 Iowa, to just three points between them. The win over Iowa legitimizes this program again, and it travels to face Illinois as heavy 20.5-point favorites this week. The game will kick off at 11 AM CST on ABC.
Michigan really handled Iowa defensively. Despite starting Iowa QB Nate Stanley throwing for 260 yards, he failed to throw a TD pass and had three interceptions. The Iowa rush attack was entirely thwarted. 30 rush attempts generated a grand total of the plus-1 yard, mostly due to Stanley having lost 65-yards on his eight carries. The pressure from the OLB on Michigan’s defense was tremendous, and its secondary feasted on Stanley’s rushed passes with the three picks.
Michigan itself was merely mediocre offensively. But its defense saved it. Shea Patterson completed 14 of 26 for just 147 yards passing with no TDs and a pick. The backfield averaged just 3.6 per-carry, but it managed the lone Michigan touchdown on a rush from Zach Charbonnet, who finished the day with 13 carries for 42 yards. Patterson rushed seven times for 25 total yards. Michigan led 10-3 at the half before the scoreless second half from both teams. Michigan leaped from a No 19 ranking to a No. 16 ranking with the win.
Patterson, for the most part, has been good and reliable at quarterback, but not without his flaws. The three interceptions stand out, though he has thrown twice as many TDs (6). Patterson has a passer rating of 131.8, by all accounts very solid. Michigan’s rush attack has lingered somewhat. While Charbonnet and No. 2 back Christian Turner both average over four yards per attempt, the team is good for just 3.5 per. Charbonnet has rushed 61 times already for 260 yards and he has four of the team’s 11 rushing touchdowns. Patterson has three touchdowns despite averaging barely over a yard-per-carry.
Michigan’s top-two receivers have got the job done, too. Nico Collins leads the team in receiving yards with 269 on his 13 catches, and he has two touchdowns, as well. Ronnie Bell leads the team in catches (17) and ranks No. 2 in yardage at 263, but he has not scored a TD yet. Tight end Sean McKeon has been a good target. He has caught six passes for 96 yards and has two TDs to his credit, as well. Michigan averages 13.3 yards-per-completion and basically has five great passing targets with its two tight ends Nick Eubanks and McKeon factoring heavy into the offensive playcalling.
For all the talk of Michigan’s season being a waste following the loss to Wisconsin, the Wolverines have responded with the superb defense which is its calling card, to begin with.
The Illinois Fighting Illini are 2-3 following three-straight losses to Eastern Michigan, Nebraska, and Michigan. While none of those opponents eats were ranked, the three losses sting after a 2-0 start which saw the Illini knock off lowly Akron and UConn in Weeks 1 and 2.
Illinois will try to get back on track, but its defense is where the problems begin. It has given up 39 points per game over its past three losses, and last week Minnesota hung 40 on Illinois. It is surrendering 28.4 points per game while scoring 31.8 itself, but those scoring figures are somewhat inflated due to the wins over non-FBS programs. Illinois pass offense ranks just No. 109 and its rush is good for No. 63 in the nation. Quarterback Brandon Peters has been something of a disaster with his 10 TDs offset a good bit by the 58 percent passing and four interceptions, not to mention the 11 sacks for 79 lost yards.
Star rusher Reggie Corbin has been the brightest spot for the Illinois offense. He leads the team in rushing yards with 382, and he also boasts a 6.6 yard-per-carry average and a team-best three touchdowns. Riding Corbin might be the thing to do with Peters showing a propensity towards making some pretty gave errors.
Even so, Illinois will be lucky to stay within three touchdowns of a Michigan team that certainly still has plenty to prove to the abundant naysayers screaming “overrated!”