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Big Ten preview: Michigan Wolverines

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Michigan quarterback Wilson Speight (3) looks downfield for an open receiver during first-half action against Central Florida at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. Michigan won, 51-14. (Eric Seals/Detroit Free Press/TNS)

Michigan quarterback Wilson Speight (3) looks downfield for an open receiver during first-half action against Central Florida at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. Michigan won, 51-14. (Eric Seals/Detroit Free Press/TNS)

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan

2015 record: 10-3 (6-2 Big Ten)

Head Coach: Jim Harbaugh

2016 record so far: 2-0, No. 4 in AP Poll

Record vs. OSU since 2006: 1-8

What’s happened so far in 2016

The first two games of the season for Michigan have been a cakewalk. In week one, the then-ranked No. 7 Wolverines routed the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors 63-3 in their home opener, dominating the game on both sides of the ball. In Week 2, the Wolverines again won in blowout fashion, this time defeating the University of Central Florida Knights by a final score of 51-14. The offense has earned 959 total yards (534 passing, 425 rushing), and the defense has lived up to the hype as it had two solid performances throughout the first two games.

Key offensive player

While this Michigan team is anchored by the defense, its offense has a variety of weapons. The offense has a chance to be one of the best in the Big Ten this season with a running back-by-committee approach and some talented wideouts. However, the best offensive player on this Michigan squad is senior tight end Jake Butt. Last season, he had 51 receptions for 654 yards, and this season he is off to a solid start with 8 receptions for 105 yards. Butt might be the best tight end in college football this season, and he will be a safety valve for new redshirt sophomore quarterback Wilton Speight.

Key defensive player

The Wolverines’ defense is expected to be among the nation’s best with a strong defensive line and a fast and athletic secondary. Their two best defensive players are senior cornerback Jourdan Lewis and senior linebacker Jabrill Peppers, as both are among the best in college football at their respective positions. But Peppers is their overall best defensive weapon. This season thus far, he has recorded 16 total tackles (13 solo, three assisted) and a sack. He is listed as a linebacker but is more of an all-purpose defensive player, as he will also see time in the secondary and have pass-rusher responsibilities.

Weaknesses

While the Wolverines are off to a good start on offense and defense, there are some weaknesses in this team that have yet to be exposed. The main weakness for Michigan is the uncertainty at the quarterback position. During Michigan’s first drive of the season, Speight threw an interception in his first pass attempt. Since that play, he has gone 35-49 for 457 yards with seven touchdown passes through the first two games. However, Michigan’s competition has been lackluster. Speight might have performed well thus far, but it is still early and he has yet to prove himself against a high-caliber opponent. The quarterback position will remain a question mark for Michigan until Speight proves that he can show up when the lights are shining the brightest.

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