And now, a test.
The No. 4 Michigan football team (2-0) steamrolled its first two opponents by a combined 107 points. It left no doubt in Michigan Stadium either time as to which was the better team.
Saturday, the Wolverines host a Colorado team that has also clobbered its first two opponents. The Buffaloes’ combined margin of victory through two games is 86, and they have yet to allow more than a touchdown in a single game.
While those numbers are against inferior competition, Colorado (2-0) should be the toughest challenge Michigan has faced thus far. Whereas Central Florida did its damage on the ground against the Wolverines, secondary coach Mike Zordich is bracing for the Buffaloes to attack through the air.
“This’ll definitely be more of a challenge than the first two games,” he said Wednesday. “No disrespect, but it is what it is. They’re better receivers, and the quarterback is a much better quarterback. He’s a guy that actually has time to throw, and he’s got three or four good guys to throw to.”
Five-foot-eleven receiver Shay Fields is Colorado’s leading receiver so far, hauling in five catches for 157 yards, but the group is deep. Devin Ross has caught the most passes, 11, for 124 yards and a pair of scores, and junior Bryce Bobo is off to a strong start as well.
Michigan has given up a total of 207 passing yards through two games, and Colorado seems poised to match that total — at least — if it has its way.
The Wolverines will likely still be playing without all-American cornerback Jourdan Lewis, leaving senior cornerback Channing Stribling and fifth-year senior Jeremy Clark to hold Colorado in check. They have performed admirably so far, but after Stribling and senior safety Delano Hill each returned an interception for a touchdown against Hawaii, the Knights didn’t really attack the Wolverines through the air.
Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau presents a legitimate threat to that end, averaging 10.4 yards per attempt this season. Complementing that are his 6.0 yards per carry, which makes Liufau the type of threat Michigan was vulnerable to last week — the Wolverines allowed UCF to repeatedly break contain and rack up 275 rushing yards.
On the flip side, Michigan’s rush attack managed just 119 yards. That gave the Wolverines plenty to focus on in their week.
“I’m very excited as a coach, that you can win a game 51-14 and then you still have things to go in and coach and feel like you can improve your play on,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday. “There’s probably no better feeling as a coach than to start the week that way. And it makes me very optimistic that there’s ways that we can improve, there’s things that we can fix.”
Against the Buffaloes, Michigan will once again rely on its stout defensive line to lead the way. Fifth-year senior defensive tackle Ryan Glasgow is off to another strong start in the middle, and freshman defensive end Rashan Gary made his first major mark with a sack last week. Add in fifth-year senior defensive end Chris Wormley and redshirt junior defensive tackle Maurice Hurst, and the Wolverines’ line should remain sturdy despite being banged up.
On the other side of the ball, the Wolverines boast one of the nation’s top scoring offenses to go against a Colorado defense that hasn’t seen anything close to Michigan’s talent.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Wilton Speight has tossed seven touchdowns to date, and with fifth-year senior receivers Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson to go with senior tight end Jake Butt, Michigan’s offensive weapons seem capable of overwhelming Colorado.
And that’s the crux of Saturday’s game. Colorado should be the best opponent the Wolverines have faced, and not by a small margin. But against Michigan’s talent, even a close game would count as something of an upset.