LAS VEGAS (AP) — Jim Harbaugh is once again the centre of attention, but it’s reasonable to question whether his Michigan squad is really deserving of the attention.
The Wolverines’ 4-0 record included wins against Washington, Western Michigan, and Northern Illinois in non-conference games. Last week, Michigan began Big Ten play with a 20-13 victory over Rutgers, which raised some eyebrows.
Harbaugh is a cautious play-caller, and his offences in recent years have lacked creativity and a vertical throwing threat. In the second half, the Scarlet Knights held the Wolverines to 47 total yards and no scores. Wisconsin is up next, with the best-run defence in the country. The Badgers will pack the box to stop the run, daring quarterback Cade McNamara to make a play. The Badgers have glaring offensive flaws as well. Graham Mertz was intercepted four times in last week’s rout of Notre Dame, so he’ll be kept on a tight leash this week as Wisconsin looks to win the game with its rushing offence and defence.
In the Wolverines’ first game away from Ann Arbor this season, Harbaugh will have to prove it. The previous two games between these teams were won by Wisconsin, 49-11 and 35-14. Against avenge their loss to the Fighting Irish, the Badgers will rely on their strong defence.
Wisconsin +2 NOTRE DAME (+1.5) over Cincinnati is the choice.
Brian Kelly just overtook Knute Rockne for the all-time lead in coaching victories at Notre Dame, with 106. Kelly will attempt to ruin a very crucial game for Cincinnati, which is hoping to crash the College Football Playoff party, a week after his great moment. The Bearcats won a close game against Indiana two weeks ago, despite being outgained by the Hoosiers 376-328.
Fighting Irish quarterback Jack Coan, who hobbled out in the third quarter against Wisconsin with a sprained left ankle, is expected to start this game. Notre Dame is a 4-0 club with faults, but they’ve faced a more difficult schedule and are improving on defence. Keep an eye out for the family dog. Last week, the betting market undervalued the Irish, and the same may happen again this week.
Oregon is favoured by STANFORD (+8).
The Ducks were on cruise control while surviving a season-opening scare with Fresno State then pulling off a huge upset against Ohio State. Oregon’s offence should have no trouble moving the ball against a Stanford defence that allowed 455 yards in a 35-24 defeat to UCLA. With Tanner McKee as a quarterback, the Cardinal have the potential to stay around in shootouts. McKee threw with 293 yards and three touchdowns against the Bruins, with no interceptions.