Expectations have been high for the Michigan Wolverines throughout the Jim Harbaugh era, but the team has yet to come close to meeting them. However, with a dominant showing against Western Michigan in Week One, there is hope the Wolverines could become a contender in the Big Ten this season.
But one win against a MAC team does not a contender make. However, a win against a Pac-12 team will help keep the conversation alive. While the Washington Huskies did not bring their A-game against Montana last week, Michigan can count on seeing it this week.
Can Michigan overcome the loss of wide receiver Ronnie Bell, beat the Huskies, and improve to 2-0? The oddsmakers seem to think so, but the oddsmakers are not always right.
Washington vs. Michigan Best Odds
|Washington vs. Michigan Odds, Saturday, 9/11 @ 8:00 PM ET||Best Washington Odds||Best Michigan Odds|
|BetMGM||+6.5 (-110)||Spread||-6.5 (-114)||BetRivers|
|BetMGM||Under 49 (-110)||Total||Over 48.5 (-110)||DraftKings|
If you knew nothing about the Huskies other than they lost to an FCS team in their season opener last week, you would be surprised to know they have legitimate Pac-12 title aspirations. There is experience and talent on both sides of the ball. Enough so that they earned the right to play in the Pac-12 title game last year.
You would not know that by how they played against Montana. But it is not unheard of for a talented team to flop right out of the gate and then go on to have a good season. Will that happen here? Maybe. Maybe not.
But the talent is there. After getting embarrassed last week, Washington may feel like they have something to prove this week (because they do).
With all five starters back on an offensive line that was one of the best in 2020, running lanes and protections should not be an issue for the Washington offense. Dylan Morris played well enough last year to earn the job this season—and he is certainly much more capable than he appeared to be last week.
Cade Otton is an excellent tight end, but someone needs to step up at wide receiver and running back. Otherwise, the offense may struggle to do its part. Michigan’s defense will certainly not cut them any slack.
But on the defensive side of the ball, the Huskies defense appears to be a formidable one. Despite not getting much help from the offense, they held the Grizzlies to less than 250 yards of offense. Most of that came in the fourth quarter when the offense could not move or hold onto the ball.
Michigan’s offense will give the defense a more formidable challenge this week. But the Huskies are experienced and talented on that side of the ball and could be up to the challenge.
Michigan fans thought they would get some stellar quarterback play with a quarterback-guru like Jim Harbaugh at the helm. But that just has not happened during his tenure. However, the play of Cade McNamara was promising against a good Western Michigan team.
To be fair, McNamara did not need to do a lot. But what he did do, he did well (9-11 for 136 yards and two touchdowns). The good QB play continued when J.J. McCarthy came into the game, too (4-6 for 80 yards and a touchdown). So, maybe—just maybe – Harbaugh has finally found some decent QBs.
But no matter how good the quarterback play gets, the run game is the strength of the Michigan offense. The offensive line has the potential and depth to be one of the best position groups in the country (at least the Big Ten). Behind them, the run game generated 335 total yards and three touchdowns against Western Michigan.
They will not average over seven yards a carry against the Washington defense as they did against the Broncos. But the run game certainly appears to be good enough to pave the way for the offense.
On the defensive side of the ball, last year’s unit was not good. Hence new defensive coordinator Mike MacDonald joining Harbaugh’s staff. If the Western Michigan game is any indication (317 total yards and 14 points allowed), MacDonald is on the right track with the experience and talent that returned.
However, the offense will get tested against the Washington defense. If the defense can keep the Washington offense from gaining any momentum, the Wolverines could be 2-0 at the end of the day.
If you think the Washington team that Michigan will face will be the same one Montana defeated, you are wrong. Washington is a better team than they showed and will be looking to prove that point this week.
This game will be a hard-fought, defensive battle. But unless Michigan’s offense takes a giant step backward, they will produce enough to get the Wolverines the win. They will get some help from a few critical Washington mistakes on offense, but the day will belong to Michigan in the end.
From a betting perspective, the safest bet is to go with the under, followed by Michigan via the moneyline. But you might be playing with fire to go with Michigan via the spread; taking Washington and the points may be a better bet.