"But Michigan should win. Why? Because Michigan has the best athletes."">
"But Michigan should win. Why? Because Michigan has the best athletes."">

Ouimet's Crystal Ball: The Miami Game

Former Michigan staffer Mark Ouimet: "This game will not be an easy walkover. In fact it'll be a great test. Miami was 7-1 on road last season. And they have won 14 in a row since losing 21-3 last season at Iowa. So they are a solid MAC team."<br><br> "But <b>Michigan should win</b>. Why? Because Michigan has the best athletes."

Ouimet:

Michigan is going to beat Miami. Why? Because Michigan has the best athletes.

Michigan has never lost to a MAC team; I don't see this as any different. But, this game will not be an easy walkover. In fact it'll be a great test. Miami was 7-1 on road last season. And they have won 14 in a row since losing 21-3 last season at Iowa. So they are a solid MAC team. But Michigan should win.

Ouimet breaks down the game.

When Michigan is on offense.

Miami will but 8-9 men in the box and try to stop the run and make Gutierrez throw the ball. Just like Oregon did last year. In fact, teams will jam Michigan up close all year and dare them to throw it over their heads.

So this Miami team will not sit back and wait for Michigan to make a mistake, they will try to force Michigan to make them. They will put a lot of heat on Gutierrez -- they will blitz a lot.

Miami's cornerbacks are the key for them -- if they can match up against the Michigan wideouts. They have a junior corner, Darrell Hunter (6-1, 206) who is a preseason all conference pick, and a senior cornerback, Alphonso Hodge (5-11, 206) who had nine pass break-ups last year. Also, their free safety Steve Burke (Jr., 6-0, 188) had 100 tackles last season, and their strong safety, Matt Pusateri (Sr., 5-11, 210) is another preseason all conterence pick.

So they have a good defensive backfield -- but, frankly, they will be hard pressed to stop Michigan's wideouts.

As far as Michigan's running game, Michigan had better run the ball, and they will. With this offensive line they should be able to run it.

Miami has two good linebackers who are both preseason all conference picks, Terna Nande (Jr., 6-1, 230, from Grand Rapids Creston, as is U-M OL Ruben Riley) who made 105 tackles last year, and John Busing (Jr., 6-3, 219) who made 120 tackles and 5 interceptions in '03. These two guys had 28 tackles for loss between them last season.

Miami did lose both their starting defensive ends, who had 18 of the team's 36 sacks last year. But with Miami's good linebackers and DB's ... if Miami gets a push from their DL they will make it a contest for a while. Eventually Michigan will break through and will be able to run their offense. But it might be a slow first half.

The keys Saturday for Michigan on offense Saturday: Matt Gutierrez and David Underwood.

The first two series for Gutierrez and Underwood will be key -- for the game, for the season, for them. In my opinion Coach Carr will have a short leash. If Gutierrez and Underwood don't move the ball, and especially if they make mistakes, Michigan has many athletes to put in there.

When Michigan is on defense

Last year, led by Ben Roethisberger, Miami ranked #1 in the nation in scoring (43 points a game) and were second in total yards (501.4 yards a game). Roethisberger is gone to the NFL of course, but Miami does have some playmakers.

Their new quarterback, Junior Josh Betts (6-3, 225) is more mobile than Roethisberger was last year. He led Miami on six consecutive drives for TD's in the first half against Indiana State last week. Overall he was 17-27 for 214 yards and three TD's. And Miami had 454 yards of offense overall. I don't care who you're playing, that's pretty impressive. Betts has a strong arm. And he also ran for a touchdown.

Miami has two good receivers -- preseason all conference pick Martin Nance (Jr., 6-5, 210, 6 catches for 108 yards last week) and Michael Larkin (Sr., 5-8, 163).

And Miami has a runner, Luke Clemens, who gained 1,000 yards in 2002 but missed the whole season last year with a knee injury. He had 70 yards against Indiana State last week.

For Michigan, Gabe Watson is the key to stopping the run.

Obviously Miami won't move it 454 yards against Michigan. And a first-year-starting quarterback in Big House -- Michigan will force him into bad decisions. Michigan will force some things to happen. They've got to get some packages ready for Notre Dame ... so we will see some blitzing by Michigan Saturday. But, if their quarterback, Betts, keeps his poise, Miami can make a game of it.

Special Teams

If Miami can win the special teams battle, that could keep them in the game.

They have a preseason all conference returner in Ryne Robinson. He scored on a 70 yard punt return against Indiana State ... and he had 67 and 82 yarders called back.

For Miami to stay in the game, they have to win the special teams competition. But Michigan will be better than last year. Michigan should have a solid kicking game with Finley and Rivas. And Breaston is a force on returns. And with Coach Debord -- we will see solid special team units all the way around.

GoBlueWolverine Game Predictions

Ouimet's Prediction: 33-18. Michigan should pull away in the second half. But if Miami's returners score a touchdown, it could be interesting.

Webb's Prediction: 28-10.

Hoekwater''s Prediction: 31-3.

Beaver's Prediction: 21-10. The offense could struggle a bit against a solid Miami defense, but the Wolverine defense will win it. And if Breaston scores on special teams, 28-10.

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And Ouimet says in response to Beaver's prediction: "It is San Diego State that will be a toughie ... a low-scoring afffair."

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