Quarterback J.J. McCarthy and No. 2 Michigan have hit the ground running on the new season. The Wolverines will play one final tune-up before Big Ten play begins when Bowling Green visits Ann Arbor, Mich., on Saturday night.
The Wolverines handled East Carolina 30-3 and UNLV 35-7 to begin the season. They enter Week 3 carrying a 17-game home winning streak, second in the nation only to Georgia (20) now that Alabama’s 21-game streak was snapped against Texas.
In two games, McCarthy has completed a remarkable 48 of 55 passes (a nation-best 87.3 percent completion rate) for 558 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions.
“We’re two steps into the process, two games in, with J.J.,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. “We’ll come back and reload for the third one, but the goal is for J.J. to be the best quarterback in the country on the best football team.”
The defense, meanwhile, ranks second in the country at 5.0 points allowed per game. Five different players had at least half a sack against UNLV.
Saturday also will mark the final game of Harbaugh’s school-imposed, three-game suspension for his role in recruiting violations. Offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Sherrone Moore will handle the head coaching duties against Bowling Green.
It was defensive coordinator Jesse Minter in charge against East Carolina, while against UNLV last week, Moore split responsibilities with special teams coach Jay Harbaugh in the first half and run game coordinator/running backs coach Mike Hart in the second.
Moore, at just 37, is seen as a rising candidate for a head coaching role. Under his guidance, Michigan won the Joe Moore Award for the best offensive line in college football in 2021 and 2022.
“As far as the opportunity from Coach, man, it’s an honor to represent this university to represent these players,” he said. “It’s really not about me, it’s about the players. That’s what it’s really about. I just want to have a chance to make sure we’re doing everything right on game day.”
Bowling Green (1-1) rebounded from a season-opening 34-24 loss at Liberty by beating FCS foe Eastern Illinois 38-15. Falcons quarterback Connor Bazelak — who faced Michigan last year while at Indiana — picked apart Eastern Illinois, completing 23 of 28 passes for 319 yards and three touchdowns.
Bowling Green coach Scot Loeffler played quarterback at Michigan from 1993-96 and coached there as a student and grad assistant before returning as the Wolverines’ quarterbacks coach 2002-07.
Loeffler said the Falcons will need to use a silent cadence in the raucous Michigan Stadium.
“You’ve got to be able to manage the environment. You’ve got to handle the crowd noise,” Loeffler said. “You’ve got to walk into there and respect that there’s 112 (thousand) people in there. But at the end of the day, after the first snap, it’s playing football. You generally start losing sight of the fans and how big the place is.”
The Falcons’ two leading receivers don’t play wideout. Tight end Harold Fannin Jr. has caught nine passes for 138 yards and a touchdown, and running back Ta’ron Keith racked up six receptions for 123 yards, all against EIU.
“This will be an amazing opportunity for our team,” Keith said. “An amazing opportunity to test where we are, an amazing opportunity for individual players to test their skills against potential NFL players, and I feel like it’s a great opportunity.”
As for advice to his younger teammates?
“They put on their clothes the same way we do,” Keith said. “Just go out and play.”
Michigan leads the all-time series 2-0, with lopsided wins in Ann Arbor in 2000 and 2010.
–Field Level Media