Washington vs. Michigan Betting Odds, Prediction, Pick: Why the Huskies are the Play in College Football Week 2
Steph Chambers/Getty Images. Pictured: Dylan Morris.
Washington vs. Michigan Odds
-105o / -115u
-105o / -115u
The “Overreaction Bowl” takes place in Ann Arbor, Mich., as Washington looks to rebound from an opening weekend loss to Montana against Michigan.
The Huskies had about the worst start you could have possibly imagined by losing 13-7 to Montana at home as the No. 20 team in the preseason AP poll.
It’s now year two under Jimmy Lake, who had Washington poised to contend for a Pac-12 title. While the loss to Montana is detrimental, the season is still not over and if the Huskies can put that loss behind them, they can beat Michigan on Saturday night.
Dylan Morris was very solid in a limited sample size in 2020, throwing for 8.2 yards per attempt and earning a 81.2 passing grade per Pro Football Focus. However, he was awful in the opener against Montana, going 27-for-46 for 226 yards and three interceptions.
Morris is outstanding in short to intermediate throws, but he really lacks the arm strength to take the top off of the defense. He lost his top two wide receivers from last season but potentially has the best tight ends in the country in Cade Otten.
Otten last season in a small sample size had a 82.2 receiving grade, per PFF, and eight explosive plays in only four games. He was the best player on offense against Montana catching eight balls for 82 yards, so he will be a big problem for Michigan’s defense.
Lake stated he wanted to establish a power rushing attack last season, and it makes sense because Washington has the best offensive line in the Pac-12. The Huskies return their entire offensive line from last season, one that ranked number one in Havoc allowed and sack rate allowed. That is going to be huge in this matchup against a blitz-happy Michigan defense.
Lake opted to not go with two six-year seniors Sean McGrew and Kamari Pleasant, who were dressed for the game against Montana but did not get a carry. Instead, he gave most of the workload to Richard Newton, who was the third-string back last season. He struggled in the opener, rushing for only 3.6 yards per carry, but he should improve behind one of the best offensive lines in college football.
The Huskies front seven was one of the best teams in terms of pressuring the quarterback, ranking inside the top 10 in havoc and sack rate. But it also was one of the worst teams against the run, ranking outside the top 120 in rushing success rate allowed and defensive line yards.
It was a small sample size but in three of Washington’s four games last season, it allowed over 4.7 yards per carry. The Huskies suffered a big loss in the offseason when Zion Tupuola-Fetui tore his Achilles. However, the defensive front was still very good against Montana, allowing only 3.7 yards per carry with five tackles for loss, so the Havoc is still there.
The strength of this Washington is its secondary, which could be one of the best units in the country.
In a small sample size last season, the Huskies allowed opposing quarterbacks to average only 6.32 yards per attempt and had a coverage ranking of 16th, per PFF.
Washington has potentially one of the best corners in the country in Trent McDuffie, who had a 82.2 coverage grade last season. With Ronnie Bell out for Michigan, it’s going to make life very difficult for Cade McNamara and the Wolverines passing attack.
Only 7 players earned a spot on the PFF College 50 in both 2020 & 2021
🔹 Derek Stingley Jr, LSU
🔹 Chris Olave , OSU
🔹 Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
🔹 Trent McDuffie, Washington
🔹 Charlie Kolar, ISU
🔹 Sam Howell, UNC
🔹 Sauce Gardner, Cincinnatihttps://t.co/l6tTFzXAOG
— PFF College (@PFF_College) July 8, 2021
Michigan got year seven under Jim Harbaugh off to a fantastic start, throttling Western Michigan 47-14. However, it did come at a cost because their top receiver, Bell, is now out for the season with a knee injury.
Michigan WR Ronnie Bell out for season w/knee injury suffered vs. Western Michigan, Jim Harbaugh announces
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) September 6, 2021
Michigan came into the season with low expectations with a win total at only 7.5, but a resounding win against a good MAC offense should give Wolverine fans some hope that a 2-0 start is possible.
The Michigan offense was full of explosive plays against Western Michigan, which is a carryover from last season when they ranked 15th in offensive explosiveness.
However, the Wolverines were facing Western Michigan secondary that was projected to be one of the worst in the MAC and it showed last Saturday. Washington, like I mentioned, has one of the best secondaries in the country and was really good last year at preventing explosive plays, ranking eighth nationally in a small sample size.
McNamara only played one half but was incredibly effective, going 9-for-11 for 136 yards and two touchdowns. However, in his limited sample size last season, he only received a 65.9 passing grade, per PFF.
Without Bell, Cornelius Brown is now the number one receiver, but going up against McDuffie is not an ideal matchup.
Michigan ran all over Western Michigan’s front, averaging 7.8 yards per carry in Week 1. Michigan has four starters back on an offensive line, but it struggled in run blocking, ranking 89th in Offensive Line Yards.
With how bad Washington’s front seven was against the run last season, the Wolverines will need to run the ball consistently on Saturday night to have success offensively.
Michigan has a new defensive coordinator in Mike Macdonald, who was recently the linebackers coach with the Ravens.
The defense under former defensive coordinator Dom Brown last season was horrendous. His blitz-happy style of defense wasn’t effective in getting to the quarterback, since Michigan ranked 121st in Sack Rate and left the Wolverines secondary exposed, as it ranked 62nd in Passing Success Rate and 76th in coverage, per PFF.
Things aren’t going to change with Macdonald coming in because the Ravens had the highest blitz percentage in the NFL last season. The blitz was very effective against Western Michigan QB Kaleb Eleby, who averaged just 5.2 yards per attempt. Michigan had a 78.6 pass rushing grade, per PFF, in Week 1.
However, the Wolverines are not going to have that type of success against Washington’s offensive line. If Michigan isn’t able to get the type of pressure they had last week, Morris is going to pick them apart since his average time to throw last season was only three seconds.
Washington vs. Michigan Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Washington and Michigan match up statistically:
Washington Offense vs. Michigan Defense
Michigan Offense vs. Washington Defense
Pace of Play / Other
I think the line on this game is a massive overreaction to what happened on opening weekend. Washington is much better offensively than it showed against Montana, and Michigan’s blitz-happy style of defense isn’t going to be that successful going up against one of the best offensive lines in the country.
McNamara is also in for a rude awakening going up against Washington’s secondary without his top target.
Washington vs. Michigan Betting Pick
Before a ball was even kicked in Week 1, Michigan opened up as a -1 favorite for this game. After beating Western Michigan handily and Washington lost to Montana, the Wolverines have been bet up to -7.
I have Washington projected as a -1.27 favorite on the road, and Collin Wilson’s PRO Projections only have Michigan projected as a -1.5 favorite. I love Washington at +7 and would play the Huskies down to +5.