Rush Offense vs. Air Force Rush Defense
Michigan struggled to run the ball effectively against an Alabama defense that finished #1 in the country last season, but that should not continue to be the case this week. The Wolverines' rushing offense was #13 nationally in 2011, and most of the key components return except center David Molk. Meanwhile, Air Force finished #109 in rush defense last season, giving up almost 220 yards per game. Air Force's linemen are limited in size due to the recruiting and regulations at the academy, so Michigan should be able to run over the Falcons, while Denard Robinson and Fitzgerald Toussaint can run around them, too. Michigan will pass the ball to get some chemistry going, but the game will be won the ground.
Pass Offense vs. Air Force Pass Defense
Air Force's pass defense last year was #6 overall in yardage (under 167 yards/game), but that was largely because their rush defense was so woeful. The Falcons were #81 in pass efficiency defense. Meanwhile, Robinson has some capable receivers who should be able to get open even if nobody in the group is stellar. This will be a good chance to get the Robinson-to-Devin Gardner partnership in sync, not to mention guys like Jeremy Gallon and Roy Roundtree. Michigan will likely turn the ball over to the ground game by the third and fourth quarters, but the first and second quarters should be rather balanced. Except some throws over the top.
Rush Defense vs. Air Force Rush Offense
Air Force's triple option offense is designed to keep a defense off balance, so there will probably be some blown assignments for some long-ish runs by running back Cody Getz, who had 218 yards rushing last week, albeit against Idaho State. However, the offensive line averages 255 lbs., and Michigan's defensive line averages about 293. Furthermore, guys like Jibreel Black and Craig Roh are good athletes who have bulked up rather than big lugs who are in there for their size, so the quickness advantage on Air Force's part might not be particularly large. Michigan typically struggles with option stuff early on, but once the defenders settle down into a rhythm after about a quarter, they should be able to make some plays.
Pass Defense vs. Air Force Pass Offense
Air Force quarterback Connor Dietz was 8/11 for 142 yards last week against Idaho State, so he's capable of making plays in the passing game. However, he's never lit the world on fire as a passer and might not have much time to throw if Michigan's defensive line quickly overpowers the Falcons offense. The triple option doesn't lend itself to a lot of fireworks through the air, and Dietz's receivers aren't particularly outstanding. If triple option teams struggle on the ground, they typically can't overcome that issue by throwing.
- Fitzgerald Toussaint and Thomas Rawls each run for 100 yards
- Denard Robinson throws for 150 yards and 2 touchdowns
- Jake Ryan has a monster day
- Michigan 49, Air Force 10