The 2015 home opener for the Michigan Wolverines will be a perfect middle-of-the-road game. Oregon State matched Michigan’s 2014 record at 5-7, so their Sept. 12 matchup in Ann Arbor will be one to watch.
Oregon State lost quarterback Sean Mannion and its top three tacklers from a year ago, but the Beavers haven’t lost all of their firepower. Here are a few players who could give Michigan some trouble on the field.
Storm Woods/Terron Ward (RB)
Without Sean Mannion to lead the offense, most of the heavy lifting will need to be done by senior running backs Storm Woods and Terron Ward. The Beavers have a possible star in place at quarterback with Seth Collins, but his impact remains in question.
Michigan’s run defense was one of the best in the country last season, but if it can’t put the clamps down on these two, it could be a game dominated by Oregon State on the ground. The one-two punch Woods and Ward might be able to offer won’t be enough to send the Beavers over the top this season, but it could sporadically lift them. Michigan might be a victim.
Justin Strong (DB)
Michigan’s passing attack in 2014 was atrocious. This season there’s reason for more hope, but the receiving corps will have to prove it won’t be a black eye. Guys like Jehu Chesson, Amara Darboh and Brian Cole are going to have to find a way to create space and make plays, which won’t be easy going against Justin Strong.
Strong’s 2014 numbers don’t dazzle, but he was arguably the Beavers’ best man in coverage as a redshirt freshman. His ceiling is high, and Michigan is mostly unproven out wide. There will be some good matchups to watch out wide.