Michigan Wolverines (0-0) at Utah Utes (0-0)
|Date & Time||Thursday September 3, 2015, 8:30 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Utah Utes -3 -- Over/Under: 46.5
The Utah Utes and the Michigan Wolverines kick off their 2015 college football seasons as they face off on Thursday Night.
The Utah Utes aren’t getting a ton of respect around the nation but make no mistake about it, this team is loaded. Utah broke through last season with their first winning conference record since joining the Pac-12. Travis Wilson returns as the Utah QB and while he is far from perfect, he is a three year starter throwing jus five interceptions last year though he did lose his starting job to Kendal Thompson and regained it via injury. Devontae Booker controls the Utes ground game and he is one of the best in the nation coming off of a season where he rushed for over 1,500 yards but only had 31 carries in the first three games. While Booker kept the Utah offense moving, the Utah defense was the real story and with many key players returning they will be again this season. Utah led the nation with 55 sacks and six of the starting seven up front are back including linebackers Jared Norris, Gionni Paul, and Jason Whittingham and defensive linemen Jason Fanika, Lowell Lotulelei, and Hunter Dimick this is going to be a very rough bunch to face. When the defense is called upon they should be in good field position as punter Tom Hackett won the Ray Guy award last season.
While Michigan Wolverines have been down for the past several seasons, with the hiring of Head Coach Jim Harbaugh come immediate expectations. While Michigan has never been short on talent, it has already become clear that Harbaugh is looking for his own type of player as several Michigan players have left the team in one way or another. The battle for the starting QB continues at the time of writing this preview but it appears that graduate transfer from Iowa, Jake Rudock, has won the starting job over Shane Morris. While Ruddock is new to UM, he had 25 starts a Iowa. Amara Darboh is Michigan’s top receiver but after him it is pretty much up in the air as Jehu Chesson and Freddy Canteen battle it out. De’Veon Smith appears to be possibly the Michigan starter at RB and while he is serviceable, he isn’t anything special and Ty Isaac is finally eligible after missing a season since transferring from USC but he could be the best back on the roster as Derrick Green played with the second unit in the Wolverines most recent scrimmage. The Michigan O-Line has strengths and weaknesses but Mason Cole started every game as a freshman and Erik Magnuson started eight games but the center spot could use help as Graham Glasgow could be the starter. The Michigan DL should be anchored by Ryan Glasgow and Chris Wormley while Jabril Peppers looks ready to play in the secondary. The kicking game appears to be another concern for Michigan with not a lot settled. One thing is for certain, Michigan will get a lot of press this season and they will be under the microscope.
Utah is 5-0 against the spread in their last five games against the Big Ten, 9-4 against the spread in their last 13 games overall, 37-17-2 against the spread in their last 56 non-conference games. Michigan is 1-6 against the spread in their last seven non-conference games, 0-8 against the spread against the Pac-12, and 11-25-1 against the spread in their last 37 road games.
I can see both sides looking to establish the run and play defense so my free pick here is going to be the Under which is set at 46.5. My stronger pick is on the winning team against the spread and I will post that in the Premium Area as well as on the App.