Michigan Wolverines football team looks for confidence booster against Western Michigan on Saturday
ANN ARBOR — Michigan desperately needs a confidence-boosting victory.
The 21st-ranked Wolverines hope to get that in their home opener Saturday against Western Michigan in a matchup of teams coming off season-opening losses.
Michigan’s highly touted defense began the year by giving up two touchdowns early in the game at No. 12 Notre Dame, and the Shea Patterson-led offense didn’t live up to expectations in a 24-17 loss.
Jim Harbaugh, in his fourth season as coach, could’ve used a victory to quiet critics.
Since starting last year 4-0, Michigan is 4-6 and has lost four straight for the first time since Rich Rodriguez lost the last five games of the 2009 season. Since starting the 2015 season 9-0, Harbaugh is 9-9, and former players such as Braylon Edwards have joined the chorus of people no longer singing the school’s praises.
Days after the latest defeat, University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel said Harbaugh was not on the hot seat and added he’s under contract for four more years.
“Everybody inside our team believes in each other and believes in the team,” Harbaugh said. “We stress the importance of going from Week 1 to Week 2. Never more important than with this ballclub. You’re looking to make all those strides you can in this one week.”
Here are some other things know about the matchup:
STAYING THE COURSE: The Wolverines’ weakness entering the season appeared to be their offensive line. Based on its performance against the Fighting Irish, the front may still be Harbaugh’s biggest problem. Instead of shaking up the lineup, he plans to stick with the same five linemen against WMU.
PUNCHER’S CHANCE: Western’s best hope to pull off the upset is probably to get the game to a shootout. The Broncos scored 28 points in the third quarter against Syracuse, rallying to pull within a TD after trailing 34-7 at halftime before closing with a 55-42 loss.
Jon Wassink threw for 379 yards and three touchdowns and ran for a score against Syracuse.