Michigan returned only five starters from last season. The young Wolverines where thrown right into the 2017 football fire with a Week #1 season opener against the SEC Florida Gators. A number of college football pundits believed that Michigan would have an early 2017 test from the likes of then-No #17 ranked Florida in the clubs season opener. It was also written and spoken that while U-M was young and inexperienced if they passed their first test, against Florida, they would likely cruse into October unbeaten. College Football Games of the Year: Badgers -8.5 vs. Wolverines.
The Wolverines did in fact enter the October portion of their schedule 4-0. At that point getting past Michigan State at the Big House would likely lead to a league event in late October that pitted two undefeated traditional powers, a game at State College against the Penn State Nittnay Lions. Defeat Florida in Texas in the season opener and the Lions in hostile territory pre-Halloween and the season was set up for two November classics. Those being a Week #12 event against Wisconsin at Camp Randall. And then a season ending battle at home against Ohio State.
Michigan fans hoped that the November 18th game at Wisconsin would be the biggest game of the 2017 season. This of course before closing the 2017 campaign against Ohio State. Followed by a Big 10 title game the first week of December.
The start to defensive coordinator Don Brown‘s second year in Ann Arbor was better than the first. U-M’s defense closed the fourth week of the college football season ranked No. 1 nationally in total yards. Additionally the unit ranked at the top of the college charts in sacks. Consequentially the Wolverines defense ranked inside the top 10 in almost every other important category. And Brown and the players accomplished this with just one returning starter.
Detroit Free Press columnist Nick Baumgardner wrote the following about the Michigan defense at the end of September when the Wolverines were 4-0 to start the 2017 season, “The defense may, in theory, be good enough to carry this team to wins over the [Michigan State] Spartans and [Indiana] Hoosiers. But it probably won’t be enough to get through a trip to Penn State without any help from the offense.”
Since the perfect 4-0 start Michigan has lost two of five. That aforementioned hope from Freep.com Baumgardner that the Wolverines offense in combination with their stellar defense could find a way to win against Michigan State didn’t happen. The Wolves’ offense produced a team total of just 10 points. Their first loss of the season, a 14-10 defeat, to the intrastate rival Spartans.
Baumgardner also stated in this late September piece “The point remains: If U-M’s offense continues to slump, the Wolverines – despite a great defense – could lose to just about anyone left on this schedule.”
The early College Football Games of the Year lines this past summer opened the Badgers as field goal favorites against Michigan.
The latest Las Vegas WestGate SuperBook update for this Big 10 affair has the Badgers as 8.5 point chalk.
College Football Games of the Year: Badgers -8.5 vs. Wolverines