College Football Pick: Western Michigan Broncos vs. Michigan Wolverines
NCAA Football Betting Favorite: Michigan -14
The Big Ten has had all kinds of news in the offseason, but one of the biggest stories was the firing of Rich Rodriguez and the hiring of Brady Hoke. Can Hoke take Michigan back to where it has traditionally been? The Michigan faithful seem to approve of the hiring, but he’d be well-suited to turn this thing around quickly, because Michigan fans won’t be particularly patient. Western Michigan will be the Wolverines opening week opponent. The Broncos were 6-6 last season, and they’ll look to improve on that mark in 2011. This one gets underway at 3:30 EST this Saturday.
Western Michigan was eligible for a bowl berth with their 6-6 record last year, but they weren’t selected to go to a bowl game. This is a team that has quite a bit of talent, and it wouldn’t surprise if they made some noise in the MAC this year. Alex Carder is a high quality signal caller. Carder threw for more than 3,300 yards last season while racking up 30 touchdown passes. Jordan White is one of the best receivers you have probably never heard of. White set a school record with 1,378 receiving yards last year, and he should be a very tough cover for the Wolverines secondary. The Broncos ranked 93rd in the nation in rushing yards last year and they must improve in that aspect of the game. On the defensive side, Western Michigan has a tremendous defensive line. All four defensive lineman return from last year’s team, and they should fare very well in the trenches.
Brady Hoke has been successful everywhere he has gone, and that is the primary reason Michigan fans are so hopeful that he is the man for the job. The job he did at both Ball State and San Diego State was extremely impressive. He clearly has more talent at Michigan than he has had at any other job. Denard Robinson gives him a Heisman Trophy contender under center. It will be interesting to see how the change to more of a pro-style offense will affect Robinson’s numbers this year. Robinson ran for more than 1,700 yards last year, but the team will need some of the running backs to step up and shoulder some of the load this year. Michigan is absolutely stacked at wide receiver. Roy Roundtree has turned into one of the best receivers in the conference. Junior Hemingway, Daryl Stonum, and Martavious Odoms are all high quality receivers as well. It wasn’t the offense that was the problem last year. Michigan’s defense allowed 65 points to Illinois and then they finished the season by giving up 52 in their bowl loss to Mississippi State. Mike Martin and Craig Roh are solid on the line, but the team is lacking at the linebacker position. Hoke is known as a defensive-minded coach, so one would think this defense will be improved this season.
Oddsmakers have set the total for this game high because they know Michigan’s offense is explosive and their defense is bad, but I think it is a little too high. Western Michigan’s defense is better than most realize. Expect both offenses to be a little bit rusty. I like the under.
Free College Football Pick: Under 61