No. 2 Michigan hasn’t won the national title this century, but the Wolverines are loaded again this year as two-time defending Big Ten champions. They open the 2023 college football season without Coach Jim Harbaugh on Saturday against overmatched East Carolina, which is a huge underdog on the NCAAF odds.
2023 College Football Odds and Expert Analysis: East Carolina Pirates vs Michigan Wolverines | 2023 NCAAF Expert Analysis
Regular Season: August 26 to December 9
Week 1: Saturday, August 26 to Monday, September 4, 2023
How to Bet East Carolina at Michigan NCAA Football Odds & TV Info
When: Saturday, noon ET
Where: Michigan Stadium
TV: None national
Opening NCAAF Lines: Michigan -36 (total 52)
First-ever meeting between the schools in football. East Carolina is in the AAC and Michigan has played five schools in that conference all-time and is 20-5-1.
Why Bet on East Carolina?
Mike Houston is in his 13th year as a collegiate head coach with a 102-49 (.676) mark, while he is 22-24 (.478) after four seasons at East Carolina.
East Carolina finished 8-5 last season, beating Coastal Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl. ECU the 2022 campaign with a +13 turnover margin. The Pirates forced 10 fumbles, recovering nine and picked off 11 passes for 154 return yards.
However, star QB Holton Ahlers is now in the NFL. He was a four-year starter and set 10 ECU records to go along with six American Athletic Conference and two Birmingham Bowl new marks in his career. Ahlers had one 500-yard, six 400-yard and 18 300-yard passing outings. He completed his career standing among the all-time FBS leaders in total yards (seventh) and passing yards (11th).
Sophomore Mason Garcia will take over. He has appeared in 12 career games making one start in 2020 and has completed 19 of 38 career passes (50.0 percent) for 179 yards and one touchdown to go with 120 rushing yards on 32 carries. Ten of his completions have gone for 10 or more yards and seven of his rush attempts have gone for 10 or more yards.
Star running back Keaton Mitchell also is gone. Last year, he became the first ECU running back since Tay Cooper (2012-13) with consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons (1,452). Mitchell had nine 100-plus rushing games (tied ECU single-season record) including a string of seven straight to end the 2022 season (ECU record).
The Pirates have faced off against 18 regular season opponents from Power 5 conferences in the last 10 years and ECU is 7-11 in those games. Since becoming a conference member in 1997, East Carolina is 66-99 (.400) when playing away from Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. The Pirates had a 4-2 road slate in 2022. East Carolina is 23-30 in non-Saturday games since 2000.
ECU is 13-64-1 all-time against opponents ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.
Bet East Carolina Pirates to Win
MyBookie Betting Lines for NCAAF
Why Bet on Michigan?
U-M opens the 2023 season ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press media poll and the AFCA Coaches’ poll, behind two-time defending national champion Georgia. It’s program’s highest preseason ranking since 1991 when the Wolverines listed No. 2 in the polls. U-M has been ranked No. 2 in the preseason AP rankings on four previous occasions: 1991, 1986, 1977 and 1976. The Wolverines finished No. 3 in the polls the past two seasons marking just the third time in school history the program accomplished the feat.
Not that it will much matter, but Coach Jim Harbaugh will miss the first three games as he serves a suspension for NCAA recruiting violations a few years ago. UM will rotate head coaches in the three games he misses. Defensive coordinator Jesse Minter gets the call in this one. Minter, 40, is a former player with extensive coaching experience, both in college and at the NFL level, where he spent four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. Harbaugh is still allowed to be on hand for practice and meetings leading up to the games. He just cannot be on school grounds come gameday. In addition, offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore will be suspended for this week’s game. In his second game back from a suspension, Moore will be the head coach in the final non-conference game.
Michigan starting safeties Makari Paige and Rod Moore are still working through injuries and could miss the opener. Paige would be a big loss as the junior finished the 2022 season with 41 tackles, one tackle for loss, one sack and one interception — which came against Ohio State. He was named All-Big Ten Honorable Mention recognition. Paige is one of the best pass-defending safeties in the Big Ten and has turned his run-defense deficiency into a strength.
Michigan should have one of the best running attacks in the country behind running backs Blake Corum (1,463 rushing yards in 2022) and Donovan Edwards (991 yards). Corum’s 2022 season earned him a Pro Football Focus grade of 96.2, the single-season record for any Power Five player at any position. Corum is tied for seventh all-time in rushing touchdowns (31) with Steve Smith (1980-83). With 10 more scores, Corum would tie his position coach Mike Hart (41, 2004-07) for fourth-most all-time. Edwards’ 7.08 yards per carry in 2022 was the No. 3 all-time mark in a single season at Michigan, behind only Denard Robinson in 2012 (7.15) and Tyrone Wheatley in 1992 (7.34).
Dating to late in the 2021 season, U-M has averaged three rushing touchdowns per game (54 in 18 games). The team scored 13 in the final four games of 2021; 41 in 14 games in 2022.
The 2023 team Wolverines feature 88 players who have seen game action. Michigan has won 25 of its last 28 games and has a 15-game winning streak at Michigan Stadium. The Wolverines have compiled a 117-23-3 record in season openers. U-M has won 12 of its last 16 season openers and 47 of its last 60 dating back to the 1963 season (47-12-1).
Bet Michigan Wolverines to Win
MyBookie Betting Lines for NCAAF
Michigan 45, East Carolina 13
NCAA College Football National Championship Odds: Top 20 Teams
|Ohio State Buckeyes||+1050|
|Florida State Seminoles||+1175|
|Penn State Nittany Lions||+1700|
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|Alabama Crimson Tide||+5200|
|Oregon State Beavers||+7000|
|Miami (FL) Hurricanes||+7500|
|Southern Miss Golden Eagles||+10000|
|Ole Miss Rebels||+11000|
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