2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 3 - EMU at Michigan
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Sept. 17 at Michigan 31 … Eastern Michigan 3
CFN Analysis: The Wolverines obviously didn't bring their A game after the emotional win over Notre Dame, and if you're going to clunk, it might as well come against Eastern Michigan. Denard Robinson was awful throwing the ball. He might have run for 198 yards and a score, and he might have thrown two touchdown passes, but he only completed 7-of-18 throws and was all over the place. Fortunately, the defense stepped up and never let EMU get in the game, and Vincent Smith helped out the ground attack with 118 yards, but it's going to take a better effort to get by a solid San Diego State squad next week. The run defense has to start showing far more toughness up front.
Eastern Michigan ran the ball well against the porous Wolverine defense, but it didn't get any passing game whatsoever to balance things out. Javonti Greene ran for 80 yards on 21 carries, and Alex Gillett didn't mess with the passing attack – completing only 3-of-5 passes for 29 yards, but ran for 61 yards. EMU had its chances and had its opportunities, but didn't take advantage of them. Against Penn State's tough defense next week, EMU has to find a way to get points whenever the opening is there.
(AP) ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Denard Robinson ran for 198 yards and accounted for three touchdowns, leading Michigan to a 31-3 win over Eastern Michigan on Saturday.
The Wolverines (3-0) started poorly on both sides of the ball, trailing early in the second quarter, and finished strong.
Robinson threw for two touchdowns and ran for another to give Michigan a 28-3 lead late in the third quarter.
The Eagles (2-1) drove into Michigan territory on their first five possessions, but came away with just a field goal. They fumbled, got stopped on fourth-and-goal from the 1, threw an interception and punted in a half filled with missed opportunities.
Michigan insisted it would be fired up to play Eastern Michigan after facing the Fighting Irish, but the differences between the games were night and day.
The Wolverines came out flat for the noon start with some less-than-full sections at the Big House following their first prime-time game at home in front of an NCAA record crowd that ended with a dramatic victory in the final seconds against Notre Dame.
Eastern Michigan took advantage -- kind of.
Javonti Greene, who ran for 22 yards on his first three carries, fumbled at the Michigan 35 on the opening possession.
Darius Scott intercepted one of Robinson's many errant passes on the Wolverines' first drive and the Eagles held them to a three-and-out possession the next time they had the ball.
The Eagles went from their 27 to the Michigan 1 on their second, but Green got stopped on fourth down.
Eastern Michigan took a 3-0 lead early in the second quarter, quieting the crowd of 110,343, and then limited Michigan to 9 yards on its next drive.
Eagles coach Ron English, a former Michigan assistant, went for some razzle-dazzle on the next snap and a lateral turned into an interception.
The Eagles never recovered.
Robinson threw a 9-yard pass to Kevin Koger with 9:28 left in the first half to give the Wolverines their first lead. He connected with Drew Dileo on a 19-yard pass in which he faked a draw, making it 28-3 late in the third quarter.
The Wolverines attempted and made their first field goal with 4:32 left -- a drive Robinson led -- from 21 yards by Brendan Gibbons.
Michigan's first-year coach Brady Hoke improved his career record to 50-50, entering next week's game at home against his former employer, San Diego State.
Robinson was 7 of 18 for 95 yards, two TDs and an interception in another lackluster passing performance. He ran 26 times for 198 yards and a score. Vincent Smith had 118 yards rushing on nine attempts.
Alex Gillett was 3 of 5 for 29 yards and ran 11 times for 61 yards. Greene ran for 80 yards on 21 carries.
Eastern Michigan (2-0) at Michigan (2-0) Sept. 17, 12:00, BTN
Here's The Deal … As expected, Michigan has never lost to Eastern Michigan, but some of the games came a long, long time ago. The first matchup was in 1896, an 18-0 victory in the opener as Michigan avoided looking ahead to the showdowns against Physicians & Surgeons and Grand Rapids High. This year's version of Eastern Michigan is only slightly better.
These are heady times for EMU, who's off to its first 2-0 start since 1989, and while beating Howard and Alabama State might not be like beating Notre Dame and Western Michigan – even if the stats don't count for the win over the Broncos – it's still a fun time for a program that won two games over the previous two seasons.
Of course, this game isn't about Eastern Michigan possibly pulling off the massive upset; it's about seeing just how much Denard Robinson can pad his stats in the Heisman chase.
Coming off one of the most exciting wins in college football history, Michigan has become one of the biggest stories so far this year, and with home games against San Diego State and Minnesota ahead, a 5-0 start is all but guaranteed before going on the road to face Northwestern and Michigan State.
There's no Wisconsin on the schedule and there's no Penn State, while the Ohio State and Nebraska games are at home at the end of the regular season. In other words, the Eastern Michigan game is the time to start doing things more the way Brady Hoke wants, and it's the time to start improving the passing game that's been so spotty, and a secondary that's been picked apart over the first two games.
Why Eastern Michigan Might Win: No, EMU hasn't faced anyone of note so far, but the running game is working and the defensive front has dialed it up a few notches. The combination of Javonti Greene and Dominique Sherrer have rumbled for 497 and three touchdowns in the first two games, with each rushing for 120 yards against Howard, while quarterback Alex Gillett has shown why he's one of the MAC's best dual threat quarterbacks. More importantly for a team that hasn't done much of anything defensively over the last million years, the Eagles lead the nation with 24 tackles for loss to go along with ten sacks.
EMU has nothing to lose and will throw everything and the kitchen sink to get into the backfield to try to stop Denard Robinson before he can get going. No one else has done much for the Michigan ground game other than No. 16, and while that should change this week, there's a chance that EMU can do just enough to stop the Michigan running game before it gets started – at least for a few drives.
Why Michigan Might Win: Yes, it's not a plus that Michigan can't seem to get to the quarterback on a regular basis, and yes, the secondary has been a problem, but EMU doesn't have the offensive line to stop the Wolverines from blasting Gillett when they're able to time their blitzes like they did against Western Michigan. EMU was able to run for 336 yards last week, and was in the backfield enough to stuff Alabama State for -13 net yards rushing – and the final score was just 14-7. Even if everything works perfectly for EMU, it still won't matter.
What To Watch Out For: Can the Michigan running backs finally start to take the pressure off Robinson? Against Notre Dame, Robinson came up with 108 yards and a touchdown, while the rest of the backs combined for just six yards. Six. It's not like they got a ton of work, with the backs getting just eight carries, but considering one of Hoke's stated goals was to limit Robinson's touches this year, this is the time to get everyone else involved.
Eastern Michigan hasn't had a problem getting the backs involved, led by Javonti Greene, an ultra-quick back who ran for 120 yards against Howard and followed it up with 146 yards against South Alabama. A garbage-time runner last year, now he's bringing his good speed and nice hands into the mix more as the feature back the offense has needed for years.
What Will Happen: Michigan needs to put up some big numbers to make up for the NCAA's decision to not count the statistics against Western Michigan. Robinson will be on the field for a few drives, and the entire stadium will hold its breath every time he touches the ball – for fear and excitement. Expect the Wolverine running backs to do the heavy lifting.
CFN Prediction: Michigan 52 … Eastern Michigan 13
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Michigan -30 O/U: 63
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