ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan has reached the halfway point of the 2016 season, and has its bye week before it hosts Illinois at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 22 for homecoming. With the turn of the season approaching, Landof10.com will take a look at how Michigan (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten Conference) has fared so far this season.
Except for a gaping hole at quarterback and questions surrounding the linebacking corps, Michigan opened the 2016 season with almost an experienced roster. It returned the bulk of its defensive line, its top two wide receivers and tight end, and All-American cornerback Jourdan Lewis. Michigan aimed to build upon a 10-win season in 2015 — Michigan’s first 10-win season since 2011, when it won the BCS Sugar Bowl.
|BY THE NUMBERS||2016||Big Ten rank||NCAA rank|
|Total yards allowed/game||212.8||1st||1st|
|S&P+ offensive rating||37.5||2nd||18th|
|S&P+ defensive rating||o.o||1st||1st|
|S&P+ special teams rating||-1.3||1st||107th|
So far, Michigan has dominated against all except one opponent. The Wolverines relied on a fourth-quarter touchdown by Amara Darboh and a late-game interception by Lewis to secure a 14-7 win against then-No. 8 Wisconsin.
Michigan isn’t simply dominating because of what many perceive as a weak schedule. Jim Harbaugh and his staff are smart and cunning, able to find an opponent’s weakness and exploit it. In a 51-14 win Sept. 10 against UCF, Michigan went to the pass against a team that stacked the box, and, as a result, had 328 yards receiving.
In a 49-10 win Sept. 24 against Penn State, the Wolverines took advantage of a decimated linebacking corps and rushed for 326 yards.
In a 78-0 win last Saturday at Rutgers, Michigan shut down a subpar passing game, holding the Scarlet Knights to two completions.
As for the quarterback and linebacking questions that faced Michigan in the offseason? Wilton Speight has proven to be a steady but not overwhelming quarterback, while Michigan’s linebacking corps, led by Ben Gedeon and Jabrill Peppers, has overachieved this year and followed the pace set in 2015 by Desmond Morgan, Joe Bolden and James Ross III.
OVERALL GRADE: A-minus
Check out the grades for other aspects of Michigan’s 2016 season: