No. 19 Michigan looks to build momentum vs. SMU
After the first two weeks of the season, there seems to be two camps surrounding the Michigan football team.
One camp is thrilled with how the team looked last Saturday, when the 19th-ranked Wolverines (1-1) dominated all phases in a 49-3 rout of Western Michigan.
The other camp is still stinging over a subpar performance in a season-opening loss at Notre Dame. That camp insists that it won’t be convinced things are different from last year’s 8-5 season unless the Wolverines fare better against quality competition.
Those in the latter camp certainly won’t have their questions answered this Saturday, since Michigan once again is heavily favored over SMU (0-2). Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m. at Michigan Stadium.
“There was a feeling that everyone wanted to get rid of,” Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh said after the win over Western Michigan. “We took nothing for granted, worked really hard all week, and that’s where we want to be as a football team. One week at a time.”
After rushing for 132 yards on 47 carries (2.8 yards per carry) versus Notre Dame, the Wolverines ran for 308 yards on 35 attempts (8.8 yards per carry) against WMU and saw senior running back Karan Higdon rush for over 100 yards in the first quarter.
Quarterback Shea Patterson threw three touchdown passes in his home debut and has completed 32 of 47 passes to start the season.
The much-hyped Michigan defense also returned to form, limiting Western Michigan to just 208 yards of total offense after yielding three first-half touchdowns at Notre Dame.
“We really played good,” Harbaugh said. “Really played with their wits about them.”
Next up for Michigan is an SMU club that is off to a rough start.
The Mustangs surrendered 529 yards of offense in a 46-23 loss to North Texas in their season opener before falling 42-12 to TCU last Friday.
This is the first full year on the job for SMU head coach Sonny Dykes, who came over from California during the offseason and inherited a returning starting quarterback in Ben Hicks.
However, Hicks has completed less than 50 percent of his passes (30 of 62) in the first two games.
“It just takes some time for those guys to get on the same page,” Dykes said following the loss to TCU. “We lost two of our top receivers. We didn’t get a lot of separation. We’ll look at the tape and see what the issue was. We’ve got to be able to throw it and catch it better than we did.”
If there was a silver lining in the TCU game for the Mustangs, it’s that they were only down two points at halftime before getting dominated in the second half.
Dykes praised the effort of his defense, and feels that unit has shown some promise early in the season.
“I think we are doing some good things defensively,” Dykes said. “We are really playing hard over there and have some depth. I think we are playing hard enough to have a chance to turn into a good defensive football team.”
This will be the second ever meeting between Michigan and SMU. The only other meeting came in 1963, which Michigan won 27-16 in Ann Arbor.
This marks the final nonconference tune-up of the season for Michigan before Big Ten play begins.
The Wolverines will host Nebraska on Sept. 22 before playing at Northwestern and hosting Maryland on Oct. 6.
After that, Michigan will enter the stretch of the season that will likely determine how far it goes in 2018, with games against Wisconsin, at Michigan State and against Penn State.
For SMU, this will be the second-to-last nonconference game of the season.
The Mustangs will host Navy on Sept. 22 before playing one last nonconference game on Sept. 29 against Houston Baptist.