Cue Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan Stadium coaching debut. The Oregon State Beavers come into a very intimidating Big House to face a team and a fan base that is hungry for a victory. After last week’s loss, Harbaugh admitted, “There’s a bad taste in my mouth to lose a football game. There’s only one mouthwash for that: Winning a football game.” Michigan will be searching for that kind of mouthwash this weekend. Here is your Last Look at Michigan vs. Oregon State:
What: Oregon State (1-0) at Michigan (0-1)
When: September 12th, 2015, Noon
Where: The Big House, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Michigan lost to Utah, 24-17
Oregon State beat Weber State, 26-7
This will be the fifth meeting between these two teams. Michigan has won all four previous contests. The last meeting was in 1986 when Michigan was led to victory by quarterback Jim Harbaugh.
Michigan Players to Watch
Every eye in Michigan stadium and around Wolverine nation will be watching quarterback Jake Rudock. Which Rudock will we see? The Rudock who threw three interceptions, or the Rudock who marched his team down the field in a two-minute offensive scheme for a late touchdown? I am sure the Beaver defense is wondering the same thing. If Rudock gains confidence early in the game, he should be able to put last week behind him, and put up some good numbers. Rudock threw for 279 yards and two scores last week, but it was his three picks that everyone focused on. He has quickly found chemistry with tight end Jake Butt, who he hooked up with for nine receptions including a spectacular touchdown grab. The defense does not have to account much for Rudock’s running ability, but they will have to put pressure on him while in the pocket. He was not sacked last week.
One of the most dynamic players on the field for Michigan will be defensive back Jabrill Peppers. The Oregon State offense might want to stay clear of whatever side of the field he is covering because Peppers showed tremendous open field tackling last week. Several times he blew up bubble screens for losses against Utah. His first step and closing speed is phenomenal. He also showed he can be a weapon on special teams, returning punts and kickoffs. With his speed and explosiveness to the ball, Peppers is a dangerous weapon that the Beavers must be ready to face.
Oregon State Players to Watch
True freshman quarterback Seth Collins had a great game last week in his first start but now he is coming into the Big House for his first road game. Collins is a dual-threat quarterback who gained over 150 on the ground last week. That could pose a problem for the Wolverines defense since they had a some difficulty containing Utah’s dual-threat signal caller. They must force Collins to stay in the pocket and throw the ball. He completed 10 of his 18 passes against Weber State, so he does not have much experience throwing the ball this season.
Michigan will also need to have repeat performance in shutting down the running backs. This week they face another talented running back in Storm Barrs-Woods, who is expected to be a 1,000 yard rusher this season. He has great hands so he can catch the ball out of the backfield, but he better watch out for the screen buster, Jabrill Peppers.
On the defensive side of the ball the Beavers are very young, losing some of its best players last year. They only return two starters and have implemented a new 3-4 scheme. They are currently searching for the next guy to step up and be a playmaker.
Michigan’s running backs are my X-Factor this week. I think Harbaugh will bring a heavy dose of rushing against a week defensive front. De’Veon Smith, Ty Issac, Derrick Green, and maybe (hopefully) even Drake Johnson will need to find the open holes, break some tackles, and put up some big numbers to help get the victory. This is a talented group of runners and I want to see them get some big gains this week.
The Wolverines are double digit favorites so I predict a 27-13 win for Harbaugh in his home debut. The offense will run smoother because the offensive line will match up with a smaller defensive line than last week. Expect a 100 yard rusher, less turnovers, and a dominant performance by the defensive line. The Wolverines will put a lot of pressure on the young Beavers quarterback and force some turnovers this week. Also, look for Peppers to be more active on special teams. Enjoy a victory this weekend, Michigan fans!!