Michigan is ranked fourth within the nation and is coming off a Big Ten championship and playoff look.
Connecticut has already misplaced twice this yr, gained simply as soon as final season, and hasn’t surpassed three wins in a season since 2015.
Saturday’s matchup at Michigan Stadium resembles David vs. Goliath, and whereas UConn coach Jim Mora stated he does not know the purpose unfold, he in all probability would not be stunned to study it.
Michigan’s nonconference schedule has been such that it isn’t stunning Jim Harbaugh has barely been requested concerning the opponents throughout his pregame media obligations.
Per Athlon Sports, Connecticut entered the season ranked No. 129 out of 131 FBS groups (Hawaii, which Michigan manhandled on Saturday, was 127; Colorado State, the season-opening sufferer, was 86).
Mora, the previous UCLA and NFL head coach, was introduced in final November to wash up the mess in Storrs. He’ll want time to return this system to respectability. This yr, the Huskies are 1-2, having misplaced to Utah State and Syracuse, with the lone win in opposition to FCS crew Central Connecticut.
Due to damage, the Huskies are beginning a real freshman at quarterback. They do not crack the highest 100 in whole offense or protection. They’ve dedicated eight turnovers, a quantity exceeded by only one crew to date this yr, and have had 24 damaging offensive performs (solely two groups have had extra).
The Wolverines, alternatively, have obliterated the 2 groups of their path, successful by a mixed rating of 107-17.
“They’re one of many premier groups in faculty football,” Mora instructed reporters in his press convention on Tuesday. “They performed within the College Football Playoff final yr and, to me, look higher than ever. They’re massive, bodily, quick, and expert.
“They have their sights set on a nationwide championship, as they need to be. They’re worthy of that objective and expectation once you have a look at their movie. This is a crew with zero holes. They should not have a weak spot.”
Mora is especially impressed with Michigan’s protection. “They sit on routes as a result of they know they’ll as a result of they’ve the pace to go deep with individuals. They’re violent with their arms after they disengage. Guys do not loaf. They attempt to pound you into oblivion.
“They’re enjoyable to observe on protection, except you are on the brink of play them. I recognize nice protection, so I recognize the best way they play.”
Mora, 60, is 2 years older than Harbaugh. By the time Mora left the NFL for UCLA, Harbaugh had gone from Stanford to the NFL. So the 2, in response to Mora, have by no means coached in opposition to one another, however they’ve met.
“He’s one of many premier coaches at any degree,” Mora stated. “I’ve nice respect for a way he form of weathered that storm a pair years in the past and hung in there and constructed this factor the best way he wished to construct it. I’m certain that it wasn’t simple for him to be criticized the best way he was, given the skins that he is placed on the wall.”
As most Michigan followers will know, Mora is referring to the requires Harbaugh’s firing after Michigan’s dismal 2020 season. Instead, Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel caught with Harbaugh, who reconfigured his workers, and the Wolverines gained massive.
(By the best way, this might be known as the Warde Manuel Bowl. Michigan’s AD since 2016 held the identical place at UConn within the 4 years prior. The football groups final performed when Manuel was at UConn, with Michigan eking out a 24-21 win there in 2013. They additionally performed to open the 2010 season within the newly renovated Big House.)
Mora additionally needs he had Harbaugh’s roster size. He introduced it up on Tuesday when requested about his crew’s depth. “We’re not allowed to have depth,” Mora stated, claiming that UConn had the smallest roster in FBS.
Per an athletics division spokesperson, the rosters throughout all sports activities at UConn are yearly assessed in accordance with Title IX laws. UConn has reported to the NCAA about 100 gamers on the football roster every of the previous 10 years. There are 96 listed on the roster this yr (Mora stated he had 105). Michigan, by comparability, has 140 gamers listed on its roster.
Speaking of numbers, oddsmakers have made Michigan a 47.5-point favourite. Mora was requested concerning the monumental unfold and stated he was unaware; he by no means pays consideration to the unfold. That’s a great strategy for any coach, however particularly one in Mora’s sneakers.