Michigan vs. Hawaii prediction and game preview for the opening contest of the 2016 season. Find out who’s projected to win the matchup between the Wolverines and the Rainbow Warriors.
Michigan vs. Hawaii Game Preview
When: Saturday, Sept. 3 – Noon ET
Where: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor
Matchup to Watch
Michigan’s defense vs. Hawaii’s running game
D.J. Durkin was the architect of a Wolverines defense that ranked fourth in the nation with just 280.7 yards per game last season. What did Jim Harbaugh do when Durkin took the head coaching job at Maryland? He went out and replaced him with someone who did even better statistically.
Don Brown is Michigan’s new defensive coordinator, previously orchestrating Boston College’s blitz-heavy defense that ranked first in the country in yards allowed per contest (254.4), tackles for loss per game (9.5) and opponents’ touchdowns (15)
Hawaii kicked off the college football season with a 51-31 loss to California last Friday in Australia. Diocemy Saint Juste ran for a 53-yard touchdown in the first quarter and finished with 118 of Hawaii’s 248 rushing yards on 8.4 per carry.
Edge on Offense
Wilton Speight and Houston transfer John O’Korn are battling to replace Jake Rudock. Regardless, the Wolverines are expected to employ a run-heavy attack led by De’Veon Smith anyway.
Hawaii finished with 482 total yards against Cal but also committed three turnovers, including Ikaika Woolsey’s interception.
Edge on Defense
The Wolverines could be even stronger than last year, while Hawaii surrendered 630 yards – 441 through the air – gave up 34 points by halftime against Cal.
Edge on Special Teams
Hawaii opened the game last week with an onside kick. It didn’t work.
Michigan likely will employ Kenny Allen as kicker and punter this year, and it’ll have the dynamic Jabrill Peppers returning punts.
Edge in Coaching
Michigan went 10-3 in its first season under Harbaugh, who also continues loading up on top recruits from across the country.
Nick Rolovich’s Hawaii debut didn’t go as planned. This is his first head coaching job at any level.
Michigan has been sitting comfortably in Ann Arbor while Hawaii played in a shootout and flew roughly 20 hours over the Pacific. The Warriors’ reward? Another long flight and a game that starts at 6 a.m. Honolulu time against one of the nation’s top teams.
Michigan vs. Hawaii Prediction
This one won’t be close. 50-13, Michigan.