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Preview: East Carolina travels to #2 Michigan


The East Carolina Pirates from Greenville, North Carolina will travel to Ann Arbor Michigan to take on the number two-ranked Michigan Wolverines. Over one hundred thousand people will fill the Big House to watch this week one matchup between David and Goliath.

 

Broadcast Information

The game is scheduled to kick off at noon EST on Saturday, September 2. To watch the game, it will be streaming live on Peacock. Calling the play-by-play will be Mike Tirico, analyst Chris Simms, and covering the sidelines, Lewis Johnson.


If you don’t have Peacock, you can listen live on the radio. The Michigan broadcast will be on WXYT-FM 97.1 and WWJ AM 950. For East Carolina fans, it will be on Greenville WNCT 107.9.

 

Key Players

With Michigan wanting to establish their passing game Cornelius Johnson, Roman Wilson, Darrius Clemons, Tyler Morris, and Colston Loveland will be key in Michigan's offensive game plan.


Key players for East Carolina will be their secondary - Teagan Wilk, Julius Wood Isaiah Brown-Murray, and Shavon Revel. They will need to have a big day to stop what Michigan wants to do.

 

What's at Stake, What to Expect

This match-up kicks off the season for both teams. Michigan enters the contest as a 36-point favorite. For Michigan, this is just the first step of 12 to make their 3rd-straight Big 10 championship game and trip to the College Football Playoff. For the Wolverines, this is what I like to call a “take care of business" game, meaning show you’re the superior team and get your starters out as early as possible. The Wolverines will be looking to weather the storm without Head Coach Jim Harbaugh (as he serves his three-game suspension) and OC Sherrone Moore (one-game suspension).

The Pirates' season will not suffer a huge blow if they lose in Ann Arbor, and it shouldn’t impact their chances of winning the American Athletic Conference at all. The Pirates will be looking to keep this game close for as long as they can. With Michigan looking to pass more, the Pirates will need to show improvement in the secondary from last season, where they ranked fourth-worst in all of FBS. The most dangerous teams, sometimes, are the ones with nothing to lose, and the Pirates will be looking to pull their own Appalachian State moment at the Big House.

 

Keys to the Game

Michigan passing game vs. East Carolina secondary

Michigan looks to enter the season as a more balanced offense this season. They finished last season averaging 219.9 passing yards a game, ranking 82nd in FBS. Michigan will be looking to exploit the Pirates' secondary. Against the pass last season, they gave up an average of 292.8 yards per game ranking them fourth-worst in all of FBS. With Michigan looking to show a more balanced attack, expect JJ to air it out often. This matchup should help JJ McCarthy with his timing to throw the ball deep.

Strength vs. Strength

If the East Carolina Pirates are going to give themselves a chance in this game, they are going to have to stop the run. The Pirates did a good job of that in the 2023 season, with a run defense that ranked 19th in the FBS and only allowed an average of 112.5 yards per game. The problem for East Carolina is their playing a team that’s built to run the ball in Michigan. The Wolverines’ run game was ranked 5th in FBS and averaged 238.9 yards per game a year ago. With Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards coming out of the backfield, East Carolina will have their hands full all afternoon.


Two Starters out for Michigan

If East Carolina wants to have their Appalachian State moment, starting QB Mason Garcia will need to have his best game as a college quarterback. With lingering injuries to both starting safeties - Makari Paige and Rod Moore - that could have them sitting out, the Pirates QB will need to take advantage of this position group if they have any shot of pulling the upset.

 

Prediction

The one thing that’s almost impossible to do is outcoach talent, and unfortunately for the East Carolina Pirates, Michigan has a ton of it this year. Michigan should come into this game highly motivated to prove a point with the absence of Head Coach Jim Harbaugh and Offensive Coordinator Sherrone Moore. Michigan will take this one 42-10.

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