Go 'Under' Total As Michigan Opens Hyped Season Vs. Long-Traveled Hawaii

Michigan Wolverines

Thursday, September 1, 2016 4:56 PM GMT

The only school in college football with a game under its belt playing on the first weekend of the season is Hawaii as they visit Michigan on Saturday. Our capper analyzes this game and provides his NCAAF Pick.

Another Long Trip For Hawaii
No team will touch Hawaii in terms of travel this year as the Rainbow Warriors opened the season on Aug. 26 in Sydney, Australia -- that's about a 10,000-mile round trip. Now UH has to fly the 4,500 miles or so to Ann Arbor to play in the Big House for the first time in school history.

Hawaii was getting three touchdowns in its opener against Pac-12 team California and the total was 63. I recommended here at SBR to take the points and go 'over' the total and that worked out nicely as Hawaii lost 51-31 in the head coaching debut of Nick Rolovich, a former star quarterback at Hawaii. The UH defense was not good last year and wasn't against Cal, either, allowing 630 yards and 31 first downs. But the Hawaii offense played quite well with 482 total yards, including 248 rushing.

What killed the Warriors was five turnovers. Quarterback Ikaika Woolsey, who won a three-man battle for the starting job in fall camp, was 17-for-34 for 234 yards, a touchdown and a pick. He also rushed for 33 yards. Diocemy Saint Juste carried 14 times for 118 yards and a touchdown. Cal only led 17-14 after a quarter before taking advantage of some of those turnovers to outscore Hawaii 17-0 in the second.

Bettors didn't learn until right before the Cal game that three Hawaii players had been suspended for unspecified disciplinary reasons. They were safety Daniel Lewis Jr., linebacker Jerrol Garcia-Williams and tight end Metuisela Unga, all returning starters. As of this writing, there's no word on whether they will play against Michigan.

Hawaii is 9-23 all-time against current members of the Big Ten, just one of those wins was on the road and that was back in 1955 against Nebraska, way before the Huskers joined the conference. Last year, Hawaii visited No. 1 Ohio State and lost 38-0. And it visited No. 22 Wisconsin and lost 28-0.

The Rainbow Warriors are 10-40 all-time vs. ranked teams, 3-15 against Top-10 clubs and 1-15 on the road against Top-25 schools. They are 3-13 ATS on college football odds in their past 16 after a loss.

Shop & Compare Live Odds For Hawaii Warriors vs Michigan Wolverines

Hopes Are Sky High For Wolverines
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is great for college football because he makes it so much more interesting. But he can be a bit of a jerk sometimes when he wants a competitive advantage. Harbaugh's team has zero percent chance of losing this game, yet when Michigan was asked by Hawaii's Rolovich to share tape of a recent Wolverines scrimmage, UM said no. That doesn't seem fair since Michigan got to scout Hawaii on tape.

What Harbaugh might be trying to hide is his starting quarterback choice, which still hasn't been made public. Jake Rudock played very well at that position last year as a graduate transfer from Iowa. His replacement should either be redshirt sophomore Wilton Speight or Houston transfer John O'Korn, who sat out last year. Speight got into a couple of games in 2015 and was 9-for-25 for 73 yards with a touchdown and pick. He led a game-winning drive against Minnesota with Rudock hurt. Most around the program believe Speight will be the choice, but I could see Harbaugh playing both guys in this likely blowout. UM is the biggest favorite of Week 1 on college football picks.

Michigan fans are more amped up for this season then they have been in several years after Harbaugh led the Wolverines to a 10-3 record last year, capped by a thoroughly impressive 41-7 blowout of No. 19 Florida in the Citrus Bowl. Harbaugh welcomes 13 starters back, including one of the nation's top tight ends in Jake Butt.

If you don't normally watch Michigan, however, there's one guy you should keep an eye on for this game as he's a special player and likely a future NFL Pro Bowler: Jabril Peppers. He was a terrific defensive back last year while also contributing on offense and in the return game in being named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year (he played three games in 2014 before getting hurt and redshirting). In 2015, Peppers caught eight passes for 79 yards; rushed 18 times for 87 yards and two touchdowns; had 17 punt returns for 194 yards; and returned eight kickoffs for 223 yards.

The Wolverines are expected to use him as a hybrid linebacker-type this season, but he'll be all over the field. Peppers is often compared to former Michigan great Charles Woodson, the only defensive player to win a Heisman Trophy. Don't rule that out for Peppers. He's +2500 to do so on NCAA futures.

There's obviously no question that UM wins. But that's a lot of points to give to a team that has a game under its belt. Take Hawaii and the 'under' as Michigan is a tremendous defensive team. UH is 11-5 ATS in its past 16 non-conference games. Michigan is 2-8 ATS in its past 10 in September. The 'under' is 7-1 in Michigan's past eight non-conference games.

Free NCAAF Picks: Under 54.5
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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Free NCAAF Picks: Hawaii +40.5 (-105)
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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