Michigan rushing offense vs. Miami rushing defense

Last week against Utah, Michigan’s running attack was practically invisible, netting just 36 yards. The Wolverines will again have a hard time igniting the ground game against the RedHawks this week.

Miami has plenty of experience in the box, especially at linebacker, where seniors Joey Hudson and Clayton Mullins and junior Caleb Bostic could wreak havoc on Michigan’s inexperienced offensive line.

If Michigan wants to have success on the ground, it will have to gain positive yardage on first down; something it struggled to accomplish against the Utes. True freshmen Sam McGuffie and Michael Shaw should improve each week, and it’ll help that junior Kevin Grady is back in the mix after his team suspension for DUI was lifted this week.

Edge: Push

Michigan passing offense vs. Miami passing defense

With redshirt freshman Steven Threet expected to start at quarterback for Michigan, chances are Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez and offensive coordinator Calvin Magee will try to get the ball down the field against the Miami secondary. The RedHawks start two 5-foot-10 cornerbacks, Jeff Thompson and Brandon Stephens.

If Threet can accurately put the ball up for Michigan’s taller receivers, it could be a big advantage for the Wolverines. Junior Greg Mathews is doubtful for tomorrow’s game with an ankle injury. If he can’t play, expect freshman Darryl Stonum and sophomore Junior Hemingway to start on the outside.

A lot of the pressure in this matchup falls on the offensive line. Miami’s front four has much more experience, but Michigan’s line may have more talent.

Edge: Push

Michigan rushing defense vs. Miami rushing offense

The RedHawks had some success on the ground against Vanderbilt last Saturday, but they weren’t exceptional against the low-level Southeastern Conference team.

Michigan’s front four played much better in the second half against Utah, and inserting redshirt sophomore linebacker Jonas Mouton at weakside linebacker shored up the unit. Expect more of the same defense that held the Utes to minus-24 rushing yards in the second half.

Edge: Michigan

Michigan passing defense vs. Miami passing offense

Miami quarterback Daniel Raudabaugh went 19-for-43 with three interceptions against Vanderbilt last week. The Commodores have a good secondary, but so do the Wolverines.

In the second half against Utah last Saturday, Michigan’s front seven pressured Utah quarterback Brian Johnson much more than the first half, and the Wolverines used much more man coverage.

If Michigan repeats that, they will dominate this matchup.

Edge: Michigan

Special teams

Somewhat lost in all the talk of the loss to Utah was fifth-year senior K.C. Lopata’s 50-yard field goal. It was a career long, and he had some room to spare. If Michigan’s offense continues to struggle gaining first downs, having a quality kicker like Lopata will be a big asset.

Donovan Warren was clearly itching to bust a big return against Utah but never got the chance. He might not get any this week, either, because Miami punter Jake Richardson is one of the best in the nation. He averaged 45 yards per punt last season.

Edge: Michigan

Intangibles

The RedHawks have no pressure in this game. Michigan is 23-0 against schools currently in the Mid-American Conference, and is feeling the heat not to drop to 0-2 for the second straight year.

Michigan Stadium has lost some of its luster. The Wolverines are just 5-4 in its last nine home games.

Edge: Miami

Score: Michigan 20, Miami 6

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