Following an uncontested dismantle of Western Michigan last week, Michigan has the opportunity for another blowout victory this week against SMU. SMU is coming into the game reeling after two consecutive losses to open the season. SMU’s first lost in Week 1 23-46 to North Texas, followed by a blowout loss to #15 ranked team in the country, TCU. If TCU wants any hope against Michigan this week, they’re going to need to rely on their quarterback Ben Hicks. If Ben Hicks can put together an exceptional performance and showcase the skills that lead him to throw for nearly 3600 yards and 33 scores last season then SMU has a chance. Granted a miracle, though, if Michigan comes in ready to play, they’ll walk out Saturday 2-1.
Key #1 – Hot Start
If Michigan wants to avoid a chance of getting upset, they’re going to need to rely on a hot start. If they allow SMU to linger around in the first half, this will only give SMU hope that they can pull off an upset. Michigan needs to avoid a first half like they had against Notre Dame, where they dropped an egg in the first quarter and scored a grand total of 0 points. Instead, if Michigan has a first half where they dropped 35 points against Western Michigan, then they’ll be in good shape to have a victory in their hands.
Key #2 – Shea Patterson
The motor of Michigan’s offense is the quarterback Shea Patterson. Playing an integral part in this victory, Shea Patterson transferred from Ole Miss just to play under a Harbaugh coaching system. However, as we saw against higher ranked teams such as Notre Dame, Michigan will never crack the top ten in the AP Polls unless they modify their offense to fit Shea Patterson’s play style. Shea Patterson can be the catalyst to get Michigan onto a hot streak and have a stellar season against top-ranked teams such as Michigan State and Ohio State if Harbaugh’s play calling serves to suit Patterson’s style. Moreover, an offense run by second string QB Dylan McCaffrey could potentially be the key to Michigan’s success down the line if they fail to meet the strengths of the current junior QB. Patterson has got an arm on him as well, declining being drafted by the Texas Rangers in order to gain acclaim under the lights at the Big House.
Key #3 – Special Teams
As evidenced in the Notre Dame game, special teams can either be the bane or the savior of Michigan. Whether it be a 99-yard kickoff return or missed field goals, Michigan’s special teams play has been all over the place. Against SMU, an exceptional performance by the special teams isn’t necessary. Rather, Michigan needs to focus on its execution and limiting the number of turnovers for SMU to take advantage of. If Michigan can hit all three of these major keys, then expect an easy win.