Wait for Jim Harbaugh home opener at Michigan is almost over
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) Jim Harbaugh's home debut as Michigan's coach has created quite a buzz in a town beat down by a string of lackluster seasons under Brady Hoke and Rich Rodriguez.
Since Lloyd Carr retired following the 2007 season, the college football team with the most all-time wins was just four games over .500 under Hoke and Rodriguez. Harbaugh chose to return to the program where he was a quarterback for Bo Schembechler in a city he grew up loving when his dad worked for the late, great coach.
Eight months later, Harbaugh will lead the Wolverines into the Big House for their home opener Saturday against Oregon State.
While Harbaugh downplayed the moment when talking to reporters, tight end Jake Butt was more forthcoming.
''Oh man, it is going to be an unbelievable feeling,'' Butt said. ''It seems like it has been building up since Coach Harbaugh got hired.''
The Wolverines (0-1) hope to keep the atmosphere festive with a win after starting the season by losing 24-17 at Utah.
''There's a bad taste in our mouth when you lose a football game,'' Harbaugh said. ''There's only one mouthwash for that, and that is winning a football game.''
The Beavers (1-0) opened with a 26-7 victory over Weber State in their first game with former Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen on the sideline, but are expecting a tougher test.
''The challenge for our kids is to understand that when opportunity knocks, you have to make plays,'' Andersen said.
Here are some things to watch at the Big House in this Pac-12-Big Ten clash:
QB CONFIDENCE: Harbaugh, who knows plenty about coaching quarterbacks after playing the position, picked Jake Rudock to start last week over Shane Morris and three interceptions isn't compelling him to make a change. Harbaugh said the graduate transfer from Iowa beat out Morris, who started in Michigan's last bowl game in 2013 and has played in 10 games, because he was consistently accurate throughout preseason practices.
While Harbaugh didn't blame Ruddock for all of the turnovers, he did acknowledge mistakes were made. ''You don't have to throw the ball if someone doesn't run the right route,'' Harbaugh said.
SETH'S SHOT: Andersen said freshman quarterback Seth Collins will start at Michigan after throwing for 92 yards and two touchdowns and running for a team-high 152 yards on 17 attempts in his debut as the key player in the team's spread offense. Even though Marcus McMaryion threw an interception on one of just four passes, Andersen wants him to prepare for another opportunity.
''We're still in a position to allow both young men to be able to play,'' Andersen said.
SECRET WEAPON? Utah coach Kyle Whittingham put together a good game plan to spoil Harbaugh's debut, and he might have some tips to pass along to Andersen, a good friend and former assistant coach.
''I communicate with somebody on that staff probably once a week, regardless of the time of year that it is,'' Andersen said. ''There may be a discussion about that.''
THIN LINE: Michigan started the season without a lot of depth on the offensive line and the unit took another hit Thursday afternoon. Logan Tuley-Tillman, who did play against Utah, was kicked off the team for ''conduct unacceptable for a Michigan student-athlete,'' leading to no one being listed as Mason Cole's backup at left tackle.
DYNAMIC DUO: The Wolverines will probably pass a lot if they struggle to run for a second straight week and there appear to be two good options for Ruddock. Amara Darboh and Butt each had eight catches and a touchdown while combining for nearly 200 yards receiving.
''Those were our two best players on offense,'' Harbaugh acknowledged.
AP College Football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org
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