Michigan football eyes another blowout as focus turns to UCF
Wolverines beat Hawaii, 63-3, last weekend
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The Michigan Wolverines followed up an offseason ripe with praise and expectations by blowing out Hawaii last weekend in a near-perfect performance.
No, Hawaii isn't a good football team. The Rainbow Warriors won three games last season and traveled nearly 1,500 miles in the week leading up to Saturday. Michigan was supposed to crush them, and that's exactly what Michigan did.
Associated Press voters couldn't have been more clear that teams will be penalized for unimpressive performances against weak teams. Tennessee dropped eight spots (from eighth to 17th) for its close call against Appalachian State, and even Michigan State was jumped by several teams after letting Furman hang around in East Lansing.
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As a weak non-conference schedule moves to Week 2, Michigan is eyeing another blowout against a team that went 0-12 and finished last in the American Athletic Conference last season.
One of the keys for Michigan will be jumping on UCF early and squashing any hope that the Knights might have for an upset. When the Wolverines jumped out to a 14-0 lead over Hawaii in the first quarter and doubled down with 21 unanswered points in the second quarter, the only drama in the second half was whether Michigan would complete the shutout.
If Michigan's defense wants to post another shutout this season, Saturday is its best chance. Central Florida finished last in all of college football last season with just 268 yards of offense per game.
Starting quarterback Justin Holman completed about half of his pass attempts for seven touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Holman didn't throw a pick against South Carolina State in Week 1, but he completed only 14 of 28 passes for 193 yards.
Despite gaining over 200 yards on the ground, UCF's rushing attack wasn't very good last week. Eight players combined to average 3.7 yards per carry, and the longest gain was 17 yards. Michigan held Hawaii's respectable running game to 2.2 yards per carry last week and has a chance to force the Knights into a one-dimensional offense.
Graph: Michigan vs. UCF offensive and defensive totals in 2015.
Look for Jim Harbaugh to take full advantage of this matchup and spread the ball around to several different ball carriers. Freshman Chris Evans burst onto the scene in his first college game, gaining 112 yards on eight carries and finding the end zone twice. He should get a healthy dose of carries, along with starter De'Veon Smith, who will want to make sure he's not forgotten.
As Wilton Speight takes the field for the second time as Michigan's starting quarterback, he'll take advantage of his deep group of receivers. Eleven players caught passes for Michigan last week, so Speight needs to find the team's top targets early before they're taken out of the game. Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh led the team with three catches each, but star tight end Jake Butt caught only one pass. Look for him to be more involved in the game plan against UCF.
Michigan fans have seen plenty of upsets in the Big House, but it would take a monumental collapse from the Wolverines to drop the game to UCF. With very few highly ranked teams in danger of losing this weekend, Michigan will try to keep pace.
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