The Michigan football program is back in the top 25 rankings, and that’s got to be a relief for Wolverines fans.
Can Jim Harbaugh’s bunch continue to build on the 2-0 start and avoid a big letdown when Michigan hosts Northern Illinois this Saturday?
How to watch: No. 25 Michigan Wolverines vs. Northern Illinois Huskies
- What: Northern Illinois (1-1) at Michigan (2-0)
- When: Noon ET, Saturday
- Where: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor
- TV: Big Ten Network (Announcers: Brandon Gaudin, James Laurinaitis, Rick Pizzo)
- Online livestream: BTN+
- Radio: Learfield Michigan Sports Network
- Satellite Radio: SiriusXM Channel 195
Oddsmakers expect Michigan blowout over Northern Illinois
With two double-digit wins under their belt, Michigan sports betting oddsmakers are expecting the Wolverines to roll this weekend.
Across the board, the Wolverines were first listed as a 27-point home favorite against NIU.
The over/under total was varying between 54 and 55 points. Caesars Sportsbook initially listed the total at 54.5.
Michigan is 2-0 against the spread and the under has hit in both games. NIU is 1-0-1 against the spread, with the over cashing on both occasions.
These two teams have met just once in their history, a 33-17 home win for the Wolverines in 2005.
Current best odds for the game are listed below.
Wolverines pound out win over Washington
Michigan led wire-to-wire in a 31-10 victory Saturday night over previously-ranked Washington.
The Wolverines weren’t too flashy, sticking predominantly with the ground game for the win.
Michigan rushed the ball 56 times for 343 yards and attempted just 15 passes for 44 yards.
The game was a bit of a struggle early on, but a fake punt call by Harbaugh in Michigan territory led to a 67-yard touchdown run on the following play from Blake Corum.
Michigan’s defense then took over. The Wolverines held Washington to just 50 rushing yards on 32 attempts. Most of the Huskies’ offensive success came when the game was out of reach.
Aidan Hutchinson was dominant, picking up 2.5 sacks and proving to be one of the top 2022 NFL Draft prospects.
Corum finished with 171 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries. Hassan Haskins added 155 yards and a score on 27 carries. The two have combined for more than 500 rushing yards through two games.
Is Jim Harbaugh too reliant on the run?
Although Michigan is 2-0 and putting up big rushing totals, one has to wonder if this strategy can last.
We’ve seen the Wolverines succeed on the ground before, only to hit a brick wall against more physical and talented defenses.
Eventually, Michigan is going to have to turn to quarterback Cade McNamara. In such lopsided games, one would think the Wolverines would look to get him some more throws.
Through two games, however, McNamara has just 26 attempts. He’s been efficient, completing 16 with two touchdowns and no interceptions for 180 yards.
But, we have yet to see him in a high-pressure situation or really be in command of the offense.
The plan could easily be more of the same this week, though, as NIU has allowed 462 rushing yards over two games.
Northern Illinois loses a shootout
Northern Illinois had a big upset in its season opener, winning 22-21 at Georgia Tech. However, the Huskies followed it up with a 50-43 loss at home to Wyoming on Saturday.
NIU trailed 42-16 midway through the third and fought back to take a 43-42 lead in the fourth, but then gave up the game-winning score with 1:35 to play.
Michigan fans will be familiar with the NIU quarterback: former Michigan State QB Rocky Lombardi.
Lombardi has thrown for 369 yards on 30 of 53 passing through two games. He has three touchdowns and three interceptions.
Harrison Waylee will be the focal point of the Michigan defense. He has rushed for 323 yards and three touchdowns on 53 carries to lead the NIU offense this season.