One of the most anticipated non-conference games on the 2021 college football schedule will take place on Saturday in Week 2. Defending Pac-12 North champion Washington will visit the Big House under the lights to take on Michigan in a battle between the Pac-12 and the Big Ten. Adding to the intrigue is the setting of Michigan Stadium at night, as this is only the 10th time Michigan has played a home game under the lights at the iconic stadium.
The Wolverines enter the game after a 47-17 win against Western Michigan, marked by an efficient offensive performance, but also notable by the significant loss of star-wide receiver Ronnie Bell to a knee injury. While Washington didn’t see the same unfortunate developments in terms of injuries, the Huskies also came in a little limp after dropping their season opener at FCS Montana 13-7. So as the game continued a seven-year run of Washington defenses with opponents down to 35 points or less (last one did so on November 8, 2014), it revealed the improvement needed on the offensive side of the ball if the Huskies were to battle it out. with Oregon for the division title.
Both teams have the chance to use the primetime spotlight against a formidable opponent to make a start in their respective conferences, so while neither team is ranked nationally en route to the game, it’s possible that either team will soon could be with a win on Saturday night.
Michigan vs Washington: Must Know
Replacing Ronnie Bell will be a full team effort: Wolverines’ offense would be a little sharper in 2021 thanks to a full off-season with sophomore offensive coordinator Josh Gattis and having last year’s starter quarterback, Cade McNamara, secure that position to start the season. McNamara was sharp in his 2021 debut, completing 9-of-11 passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns as he led the attack to scores on six of the first seven drives. But now there is an emphasis for McNamara to raise his level of play, beyond being a distributor and leader of offense, since the season-ending injury to senior wide receiver Ronnie Bell. Bell was not only the star of this passing game, he was also the most experienced player in the wide reception area and one of the team leaders on offense. Cornelius Johnson, Mike Sainristil and Roman Wilson are among the names to watch, which will give Bell more work off the field, but the whole offense (offensive line, run game included) should now level up without the best of the Wolverines playmaker.
Huskies attack needs a spark: Washington only played four games in 2020, so the sample size is small, but under Jimmy Lake, the offense averages just 25.6 points per game and only broke 30 times, against Arizona last season. In the modern game, that kind of scoring will put you just below the FBS average and it’s rare for teams to be able to put up a defense that can keep opponents down to less than that on a regular basis. Washington may be one of those teams, but it would ease a lot of pressure on that great defense if the Huskies could score more points. Starting quarterback Dylan Morris certainly tried to get things going during the passing game against Montana, but completed only 26 of his 47 passes for 226 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions. The ground game also didn’t get much going (less than 100 rushing yards, just 65 if you count sacks) and while Montana is a good FCS program, that won’t be enough to beat or compete for a team like Michigan. division and conference championships.
New challenges for the sidelines: Again, there’s a small sample size here and Jimmy Lake has a lot of experience as a defensive coordinator in tough spots, but this is the first non-conference road race for the sophomore Huskies coach. It is also the first Power Five opponent outside of the Pac-12 because Washington not only played a conference program, but did not play in a bowl game. On the other hand, Michigan has a new defensive coordinator in Mike Macdonald and it is still the second year for Gattis, who, like Lake in 2020, had no non-conference opponents in the regular season schedule, nor did he play in a bowl game. .
How Michigan vs. Washington live
Date: Saturday 11 Sept. | Time: 8 p.m. ET
Venue: Michigan Stadium — Ann Arbor, Michigan
TV: ABC | Live Stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Michigan vs. Washington forecast, choices
Featured game | Michigan Wolverines vs. Washington Huskies
My favorite game here is at the bottom, with a lot of that thinking that Washington’s attack will take more than a week to get back on track. Now the Huskies will get a boost with some pass catchers in the lineup who missed the season opener, but Michigan’s defense should be solid enough to keep that group in check. Prediction: Michigan (-6)
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