On December 21, 1984 BYU was in the Holiday Bowl trying for an undefeated season. BYU was ranked number one in the only two polls at the time and came back to beat the Wolverines 24-17, winning the National Championship that year. On September 26, 2015 BYU will play Michigan for only the second time ever.
The stakes won’t be as high but it’s still a big game for both teams. Michigan could be another good win against a Power 5 school whereas a win against BYU would help Michigan show that they are making a step back to being a national power.
The 2014 Michigan team was a mess, not lose-to-Appalachian-State mess, but 5-7 is very mediocre for Michigan. 2014 was the end of the line for Coach Brady Hoke, who led his team a 3-5 record in the Big 10 and failed to get bowl eligible.
I usually lead with quarterbacks, but with Michigan this is the biggest and most impactful change. Jim Harbaugh is starting his first year as Head Coach of the Michigan Wolverines. As a Seahawks fan this is how I feel about Jim Harbaugh:
Harbaugh is a fantastic coach and I loved to hate him while he was coaching the Niners. He is the kind of coach that gets the best out of what he has. He could have an immediate impact; just look at what he did with Alex Smith and the Niners. He worked with Alex and made him into the quarterback we already knew he was.
Last year Michigan still had talent and put three players into the NFL draft. Now Harbaugh will come in and get the most out of that talent. It’s a big change, but it’s still unknown how much better crazy Jimmy will make the Wolverines.
There is no clear-cut starting quarterback on this Michigan team. This is something that Jim Harbaugh has never experienced at the college level. He had Andrew Luck at Stanford, but in the NFL he had to choose between Alex Smith and Collin Kaepernick. We know how that turned out and I feel that he chose wrong there, but it could still have been the right choice in the long term.
The most compelling number here is zero. Zero is the number of touchdown passes between four quarterbacks available for Michigan has thrown. They did get a transfer from Houston that BYU is familiar with but has to sit out a year, John O’Korn. The Cougars should count their blessing that he can’t play this year considering what he has done against the Cougars thus far.
Despite what the Niners may have looked like last year, the power run game is big for Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh’s new offensive coordinator is Doug Nussmeier who likes having a two running back system. The two top running backs right now are Derrick Green and De’veon Smith. They are both big power backs (both are 5’11 and about 230 pounds). Derrick Green was a highly touted recruit last year but struggled as a freshman whereas Smith showed more promise as a freshman last year.
What they lack in experience at the quarterback positions they make up for with wide receivers and tight ends. Michigan lost its best player from this group but looks like they have people to replace Devin Funchess. At TE they have junior Jake Butt who has experience under his belt as a freshmen he started eight games he suffered an ACL injury that slowed him down last year.
The wide receiver group touts game experience but lacks impressive numbers to back up the number of games played.
The Wolverine defense looks to be the most solid part of this team. This is where they look like a big time program. BYU needs to hope for healthy Taysom Hill to be able combat this.
Too Early Prediction:
This is a hard game to predict because you don’t know how much of an immediate effect Harbaugh will have. We will know more when the season starts. Michigan opens the season against Utah. You can read Patrick’s preview here: http://www.tornbysports.com/utah-utes-football-michigan-too-early-preview/ . I predict BYU coming out with a victory 35-21. Go Cougars.