After its worst season-opening loss in school history, No. 19 Michigan will try to distance itself from its 41-14 thrashing at the hands of Alabama last week when it hosts Air Force on Saturday.
The Wolverines lost their opener for the first time since 2008, when they fell to Utah in Ann Arbor. Air Force is coming off a 49-21 victory over Idaho State, the Falcons’ fifth straight win in a season opener.
Air Force has lost 19 consecutive games against ranked opponents.
About Air Force
The Falcons’ triple-option offense makes them a headache, even for a national power angry after an embarrassing loss. Running back Cody Getz exploded last week for 218 yards and three touchdowns.
Air Force accumulated 303 yards on the ground in the first half against Idaho State. On defense, the Falcons will need to contain Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, though he struggled to produce much against Alabama.
Air Force forced only one Bengals sturnover in the opener and would probably need against Michigan more to pull an upset. Cornerback Steffon Batts secured that interception and recorded 11 tackles. Robinson’s coaches seem content to let him remain in the pocket this season, so Batts and Co. will be tested early and often.
The return of running back Fitz Toussaint, suspended this summer after a drunken-driving arrest, and defensive end Frank Clark, suspended this summer after a home-invasion arrest, will boost the Wolverines this week.
Toussaint, especially, will need to play a crucial role after Michigan’s rushing attack was virtually non-existent against the Crimson Tide. Running back Vincent Smith, the Wolverines’ leading rusher, netted only 33 yards in the opener. But their defense was even more troubling, allowing Alabama to rack up more than 7.1 yards per play.
It’s still unclear how much playing time Toussaint will receive, but his ability to mesh back into the offense might dictate how easily Michigan bounces back.
Michigan cornerback Blake Countess will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL.
Michigan wide receiver Devin Gardner will see time almost exclusively at that position after being stripped of his second-string quarterback duties this week.
The schools’ only prior meeting was in the 1964 opener, a 24-7 Michigan victory.