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2017 Big Ten Football Preview: Michigan Wolverines

Michigan senior running back Ty Isaac (32) runs tha ball in a game against Cincinnati at Michigan Stadium. Credit: Courtesy of Amelia Cacchione | The Michigan Daily

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan

2016 Record: 10-3 (7-2)

Head Coach: Jim Harbaugh

2017 record: 2-0

All time record vs. OSU: 58-48

What has happened thus far in 2017:

The Michigan Wolverines began the season against Florida, and a sluggish first half nearly derailed them. But in the second half, the defense stifled the Gators, and the Michigan offense took advantage, leading to a 33-17 Wolverines victory. The Cincinnati Bearcats visited Ann Arbor in Week 2 and again, the Wolverines offense and defense both started slow. The game was tied until a second-half, 19-point swing led Michigan to win 36-14.

Impact Player:

Senior running back Ty Isaac appears to be emerging as a solid rusher for coach Jim Harbaugh’s offense. Isaac rushed for a career-high 133 yards on 20 carries against Cincinnati, and took 11 carries for 114 yards against Florida in the season opener. Though Isaac has yet to score any touchdowns this season, the increased number of touches create a great potential for success, which the Wolverines will need to take weight off of quarterback Wilton Speight.

Strengths:

Michigan’s defense is its biggest strength. In his second year, defensive coordinator Don Brown has produced an aggressive attack that ranks third in the nation for rushing yards allowed so far this season, with 39.5 yards up per game. This defense dominated the Gators, giving up no points in the second half and holding Florida to only 192 total yards and nine first downs.

Weaknesses:

Though Speight has been the conductor of the Michigan offense, the passing game has looked sluggish so far this season. Two first-half interceptions against Florida, along with multiple overthrown passes versus Cincinnati, showed inconsistency with Speight’s play. That could be a result of lingering discomfort from his collarbone break last season against Iowa on Nov. 12. Speight has completed just 51.9 percent of his passes through the first two weeks of the season, and the inconsistency has frequently sent him to the bench in favor of redshirt senior John O’Korn. Michigan also lost three of its top pass-catchers from last season, so it needs consistent perimeter playmakers to emerge.

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