In-Depth on the 2017 Michigan Wolverines

By Craig Fritz on October 20, 2017 at 12:19 pm
Michigan Football

© Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

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The Wolverines lost a ton from last year's 10-win team, but they still field one of the nastiest defenses in the land. We take a deep dive on Michigan's 2017 season so far.


Michigan Wolverines (5-1, 2-1)
opponent game result Yards Gained/allowed opponent s&p+
florida W, 33-17 433/192 48
cincinnati W, 36-14 414/200 110
air force W, 29-13 359/232 86
@ purdue W, 28-10 423/189 55
Michigan State L, 14-10 300/252 20
@ indiana W, 27-20 329/278 44

quick recap: Michigan 33 - Florida 17 (arlington, texas)

  • Vegas: Michigan -8.5, O/U 46
  • It was over when...Noah Furbush recovered a fumble in the end zone after Chase Winovich smashed the Gators QB with less than 2 minutes left in the game. It stretched a 9 point lead to 16, and shut the door on any hopes Florida had of a comeback.

Highlights:

quick recap: Michigan 36 - Cincinnati 14

  • Vegas: Michigan -31.5, O/U 51
  • It was over when...Wilton Speight hit Grant Perry on a 33-yard pass play to put the Wolverines up 10 late in the 3rd quarter. Michigan completed locked down the final stanza against the Bearcats, tacking on a field goal, a safety and a pick-six.

Highlights:

quick recap: michigan 29 - air force 13

  • Vegas: Michigan -22.5, O/U 53
  • It was over when...Quinn Nordin hit his fifth field goal of the day to give the Wolverines a 9 point cushion to open the 4th quarter. Michigan would add a late score to stretch the lead, but the Falcons never seriously threatened down the stretch.

Highlights: 

quick recap: michigan 28 - purdue 10

  • Vegas: Michigan -10.5, O/U 51
  • It was over when...Chris Evans punched it in from 10 yards out to give Michigan a 14-10 lead late in the 3rd quarter. The Boilermakers took the lead into the locker room, and knocked Speight out of the game, but couldn't do anything after the break. The Wolverines forced Purdue into five punts and a fumble to close out the game. Notice that pattern of late-game defensive dominance?

Highlights:

quick recap: michigan 10 - michigan state 14

  • Vegas: Michigan -11.5, O/U 41
  • It was over when...A torrential monsoon rendered Michigan's comeback completely toothless. The Spartans took a 14-3 lead on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Brian Lewerke to Madre London midway through the 2ND QUARTER. After the Wolverines clawed within 4 points in the 3rd quarter, Speight's replacement John O'Korn tossed interceptions on three consecutive drives. It didn't matter that Michigan State could only muster 34 yards of offense in the second half as Michigan coughed it up five times.

Highlights: 

quick recap: michigan 27 - inidana 20 (ot)

  • Vegas: Michigan -7, O/U 43
  • It was over when...Tyree Kinnel intercepted Peyton Ramsey in the end zone on 4th-and-goal, ending Indiana's bid to tie the game in overtime. The Hoosiers got the ball down to the 1, and ran some of the most questionable goal-line plays you'll see. Michigan leaned heavily on a breakout game from running back Karan Higdon, who trashed Indiana for 200 yards and 3 TDs. O'Korn only had 58 yards passing for the entire game.

Highlights:

deep stats

Michigan tarnishes the white out if...

  • Joe Moorhead can't solve Dom Brown's No. 2 defense, according to S&P+. At this point, the Wolverine's D is the only thing keeping the team competitive, especially with Speight out for the year. If the Lions cannot be the first team to crack the 300-yard mark on Michigan, it will be a long night at Beaver Stadium.
  • This game becomes a battle of field goals. Former Penn State commit Quinn Nordin is the real deal. So far this season, he's Michigan's most consistent and dangerous offensive weapon, with established range well beyond 50 yards. Add that to the struggles of the Lions field goal unit, and it's not great.
  • Michigan can keep the Lions in 3rd-and-long. The Wolverine defense is good in all situations, but they're devastating on obvious passing situations and 3rd down in general.

Happy Valley keeps the blizzard going if...

  • Penn State can hit the big play. If there's one thing the Michigan defense has been susceptible to, it's explosive plays. They rank 68th nationally in limiting explosiveness, and have shown weaknesses against big plays in the run (79th) and the pass (63rd).
  • The Lions keep the turnover machine humming. Penn State is No. 2 nationally in turnover margin and Michigan is 92nd. James Franklin's squad will need to be at least +2 in the turnover battle to come away with a win. A defensive or special teams score would be extremely good.
  • Brent Pry's unit keeps up it's sterling play. To be blunt, Michigan is bad on offense. Their best quarter of play this season has been the first, ranking 45th offensively in S&P+. If Pry's guys can weather the Wolverines out of the gate, it just goes down hill for the boys from Ann Arbor. (2nd quarter - 91st, 3rd quarter - 116th, 4th quarter 80th)
  • Penn State makes John O'Korn beat them. Jim Harbaugh does not want to put the game on his QB. He wants his running game to eat clock, and get him in field goal range. Penn State's great secondary needs to allow the front seven to contain Michigan's running game, and then force O'Korn into poor throws when he has no other choice. 
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