Michigan enters their bye week this week, and thus far, the season is going exactly as planned. The Wolverines are a perfect 7-0 for the second consecutive season and will be playing Michigan State once again to try to go to 8-0. As we all remember last season, Michigan State upset the Wolverines and prevented them from getting that 8th win in a row. The Wolverines find themselves in the same exact position this year, but hopefully a different outcome occurs.
This Year's Statistics:
Michigan's ground and pound may be even more dominant than it was last season. Last year, excluding the playoff game, Michigan was able to do whatever they wanted in the run game. Through 7 weeks, Michigan ranks 9th in rush yards per game with 241.7. Only two other power five teams stand in front of the Wolverines in this ranking, Ole Miss and Kansas State. 3 others in front of the Wolverines are the military schools who rush the ball over 60 times a game. Michigan is tied for 1st in the country with 24 rushing Td's, and they are 5th in total rushing yards on the season.
This Wolverines team is doing exactly what they did last year even with losing Haskins and key players on the offensive line. This was one of the big question marks for Michigan at the start of the season. Their offense is only successful if the run game is successful, but the Wolverines have filled the gaps in their offense with huge performances by Blake Corum and transfer center, Oluwatimi.
Blake Corum's stats speak for themselves and have now made him the 4th favorite in the Heisman race, behind Stroud, Hooker, and Caleb Williams. Blake is 6th in the nation with 128.7 rush yds per game, is 2nd in total rush yards with 901, and 1st in total TDs with 13. Blake is an absolute unit who needs to continue these performances to give the Wolverines the chance of being back-to-back B10 Champs.
One of the more suprising performances of Michigan's season thus far, is their defense. Michigan's D Coordinator last year, MacDonald left the program and returned to Jim's brother John, to work again with the Ravens. Michigan then hired Jesse Minter as their new coordinator and thus far, he has done a fantastic job. Michigan ranks 4th overall in total D, only allowing 250 total yards per game. They also rank 6th in rush yards per game, and 9th in passing yards per game.
The defensive stats should, however, be taken with a grain of salt. Michigan's opponents this season have not been the best offensive teams, and Michigan will face many more tests down the road. It is still important though to give a little respect to Minter and what he's done with this defense. A big question mark for Michigan's defense was how they would recover from losing two first round DE's, Hutchinson and Djabo. Just like the running game, Michigan took no time to produce results and have younger guys fill the shoes of those before them. Michigan ranks 9th in the country with 3.43 sacks per game and is 4th in total sacks. Senior Mike Morris has had a phenomenal start and is up there with the best in the country with 5 sacks thus far. His success will also play a huge role in Michigan's future.
Conclusion and Predictions:
It is evident that Michigan's power run game is back and possibly better than last years. They had no problem running the ball on Penn State, who was supposedly the 5th best rush defense in the country. If Michigan continues to control the line of scrimmage and run at will, then this team will be a serious national title contender.
Michigan still has yet to play that high powered offense. Michigan struggled a little with Maryland's aerial attack, and that doesn't even come close to that of Ohio States. Unfortunately, Michigan's remaining schedule will not give them much practice with great offenses until they matchup with the Buckeyes. That game, IF MICHIGAN CONTINUES TO STAY UNDEFEATED, will be a very similar feel as last year. It will come down to if Michigan can run the ball, and if they can stop Ohio States pass.
I don't want to get ahead of myself, because it is B10 football where anything can happen, but this Wolverines team I believe has a better shot at the national title this year than last, and I can't wait!
As always, Godspeed, good luck, good scores, and GO BLUE!