Eighth-ranked Michigan looks to build on its impressive season-opening win when it hosts Cincinnati on Saturday. The Wolverines started the new campaign with a bang as they scored 20 unanswered points in the second half en route to a 33-17 victory against No. 24 Florida in the AdvoCare Classic in Arlington, Texas and they hope to ride the momentum to their ninth straight home-opening triumph.
Michigan didn’t skip a beat on defense despite replacing 10 starters as Don Brown’s unit registered six sacks and forced three turnovers while holding the Gators to 192 yards of offense. “Don Brown had an excellent gameplan,” Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh told reporters. “We thought we were going to be good and we were good.” The Wolverines will meet the Bearcats for the first time but face a familiar foe in Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell, who spent 14 years on the Ohio State coaching staff - including a season as the interim head coach in 2011 after Jim Tressel resigned amidst a tattoo scandal. The Bearcats opened the season with a 26-14 win against FCS outfit Austin Peay, but surrendered 224 rushing yards and Fickell hopes his defense stiffens up against Michigan’s three-pronged rushing attack of Chris Evans, Ty Isaac and Karan Higdon.
TV: Noon ET, ABC. LINE: Michigan -34.5
ABOUT CINCINNATI (1-0): Hayden Moore passed for 151 yards and three touchdowns, but more importantly finished without an interception in the win against Austin Peay after throwing 18 picks over his previous two seasons. Mike Boone rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown to go over 100 yards for the sixth time in his career while Thomas Geddis caught four passes for 48 yards and a TD against the Governors. “I think our guys got a lot of the jitters out of their system that first week,” Fickell told reporters. “Obviously this is going to be an incredible challenge but I’m excited for our guys to go up there and play in front of 100,000 people.”
ABOUT MICHIGAN (1-0): Wilton Speight completed 11-of-25 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown, but threw two interceptions that were returned for scores and was pulled in the second quarter for two series, although Harbaugh unequivocally stated that “Wilton’s going to be the starter.” Freshman Quinn Nordin was named the Big Ten Co-Special Teams Player of the Week after kicking four field goals, including a 55-yarder, against Florida. Freshman cornerback David Long left the game in the second half with a leg injury and his replacement Brandon Watson proceeded to hurt his shoulder, but Harbaugh said both players are fine and should be ready for Saturday.
1. Michigan is 23-5-1 against teams currently in the American Athletic Conference.
2. The Wolverines have won their two home openers under Harbaugh by an average margin of 44 points.
3. Cincinnati is 3-8 on the road since the start of the 2015 season.
PREDICTION: Michigan 47, Cincinnati 6