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Colorado Buffaloes vs. Michigan Wolverines Preview and Prediction

Sefo Liufau

Sefo Liufau

Albeit against inferior opponents, the Michigan Wolverines (2-0) have looked impressive through the first two weeks of the season, beating both Hawaii and UCF by a combined total of 97 points. Given the expectations coming into 2016 and the talent level of both teams, those results were fully anticipated.

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What was not expected, however, was how good Colorado would look through the first two weeks of the season. The Buffaloes have trounced their first two opponents, including a 44-7 blowout victory over in-state rival Colorado State where they put up 578 yards of total offense.

Can Colorado keep up its forward momentum for its first visit to the Big House since 1997? Or will Michigan continue to win in dominant fashion as it has through the first two games of the year?

Colorado at Michigan

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: Big Ten Network
Spread: Michigan -20.5

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Three Things to Watch

1. Airing it Out
It seems funny to think at this point there even was a quarterback competition during Michigan's fall camp given the way Wilton Speight has played thus far. Outside of one interception on his first pass of the season, the sophomore quarterback has been nearly flawless, completing 70 percent of his attempts with seven touchdowns. And Speight did not get to that high completion percentage just by dinking and dunking his way to the end zone. In fact, Speight leads the Big Ten with 10 completions for 20 yards or more. Passing against the Colorado secondary, though, could prove to be a challenge this week for Speight as the Buffs have given up just 130 yards through the air with three interceptions.

2. Establish the Run
Despite the dominating performance against UCF last week, the Wolverines allowed more than 270 rushing yards to the Knights, though 87 of those yards did occur on just one play. It is still very early but Michigan comes into Week 3 ranked 90th in the country in rushing defense after finishing 16th a season ago. On the flipside, Colorado has gotten off to a great start running the football, averaging 261 yards per game with eight touchdowns. Junior Phillip Lindsay is the team's No. 1 back with 125 yards and four touchdowns, but the Buffs have gone with a committee approach thus far with backups Donovan Lee and Kyle Evans getting in the action. Watch out for quarterback Sefo Liufau as well, as he comes in as the team’s second-leading rusher in his return from a Lisfranc foot injury. Mobile quarterbacks have given the Wolverines fits early on in the year.

3. Missing in Action

The Michigan defense has not missed a beat the past two weeks despite not having the services of three key playmakers on that side of the ball — primarily All-American Jourdan Lewis. The senior cornerback was held out of the opening game against Hawaii due to an undisclosed injury that had been lingering since fall camp. It was thought that Lewis could make his return to the field against UCF last week until head coach Jim Harbaughrevealed that Lewis had a separate muscle pull that would keep him out once again. As for Lewis’ status this Saturday against Colorado, Harbaugh would not divulge whether or not he would be available, so we likely will not find out right up until pregame warmups. Starting defensive end Taco Charlton and nose tackle Bryan Mone are both likely to miss Saturday’s matchup as well.

Final Analysis

Colorado has been exceedingly impressive early on in the season on both sides of the football. The offense has scored seemingly at will, posting 100 points in the first two games, while the defense has allowed just 321 total yards and forced five turnovers. The Buffaloes will need a few more of those this week, along with a Heisman-like effort from quarterback Sefo Liufau, to even have a chance at pulling off another upset (1994 anyone?) at the Big House. Expect this to be a game midway through the first half before Michigan’s offense overwhelms Colorado en route to a third straight victory at home to open the season.

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Prediction: Michigan 38, Colorado 17

— Written by Mike Bainbridge, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Bainbridge is a graduate of Northern Illinois University. Make sure to follow him on Twitter @MikeBainbridge2.