It was an ugly opening weekend for both Michigan and Oregon State, but with two very different outcomes. Oregon State toppled a far lesser opponent in Weber State 26-7 in the home opener, but was only able to accumulate 391 yards of total offense and had just six points in the first half. Not the kind of dominant performance one would expect against an FCS foe.
The Wolverines' opening game against Utah looked eerily familiar to how the last four seasons went under Brady Hoke. Lack of a rushing attack, missed tackles and turnovers were yet again the deciding factors that doomed Michigan in crunch time, leading to a 0-1 start in the Jim Harbaugh era.
Which team will bounce back with a more complete game in Week 2?
Oregon State at Michigan
Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: ABC
Spread: Michigan -15.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Ground and Pound
Both offenses center primarily around running the football, and who does that best on Saturday is likely to come away with a victory. Against a stout Utah front, Michigan struggled mightily to find running room and averaged a paltry 2.6 yards per carry. The Beavers do not possess the beef that Utah has in the middle, but running the football has been a lingering issue for years with Michigan, and last week did not provide any glimpses of hope. Getting a healthy Drake Johnson back would help immensely. For Oregon State, there are no concerns. Seth Collins and Storm Barrs-Woods form a dynamic backfield duo and could give the Wolverines fits with the read-option, which has plagued Michigan defenses in the past.
2. Seth Collins now the man at quarterback
Reading the tea leaves (aka the Week 2 depth chart), Collins is the guy moving forward for the Beavers. Unlike last week, there are no “ORs” listed between Collins and backup quarterback Marcus McMaryion as head coach Gary Andersen stated there will not be a two-quarterback system for the foreseeable future. Once Collins shook off the opening game jitters, the true freshman looked electric, throwing two second-half touchdowns that included a perfectly placed 44-yarder to receiver Jordan Villamin. Collins also led the team in rushing with 152 yards and dazzled the crowd with a hurdle over a defender. How he fares against stiffer competition should give us a more accurate barometer of how good Collins can be in his first season.
3. How long of a leash for Jake Rudock?
Coaches and teammates alike reiterated that confidence remains high in the graduate transfer quarterback following his three costly interceptions against Utah. Rudock was criticized at times during his career at Iowa, drawing ire from the fans for not taking enough shots downfield and playing too conservatively. Well, we saw what happened when Rudock takes said chances – interceptions and inaccuracy on the long ball. If Rudock has another poor start, does Harbaugh have a quick hook and turn to junior Shane Morris?
While the freshman quarterback for the Beavers did show promise in the opening week, this is a much taller task going on the road to the Big House. The Wolverines will not be threatened by Collins’ arm and will likely load up the box with eight or nine defenders to stop the run. On the flip side, Rudock will make just enough plays with his arm, and more importantly, not turn the ball over three times as he did against the Utes. The game will be tight going into the fourth quarter, but a late score will seal it for Michigan.
Prediction: Michigan 20, Oregon State 10
— Written by Mike Bainbridge, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Bainbridge is a graduate of Northern Illinois University and current writer for CollegeFootballGeek.com. Make sure to follow him on Twitter @MikeBainbridge2.