How to watch Central Michigan vs. Michigan 2013: Preview, TV schedule, odds and more

Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

Can the Wolverines start out 2013 with a win over an in-state rival?

The Michigan Wolverines kick off their 2013 season at Michigan Stadium Saturday, hosting the Central Michigan Chippewas. Television coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. ET on Big Ten Network.

The post-Denard Robinson era has officially begun at Michigan, as the quarterbacking job is now officially Devin Gardner's after a fairly strong 2012 in which he started four games. After an 11-win season with Robinson at the helm in 2011, the Wolverines settled down a bit last year, finishing at 8-5 with an Outback Bowl loss to South Carolina.

Michigan was able to find success last year due to a combination of a strong rushing offense (ranked 41st in the nation) and a terrific defense (13th in the nation in yardage, sixth in pass yardage). The Wolverines lost two defensive backs but return a strong defensive core that will look to challenge in the Big Ten this season.

Central Michigan lost five of its first seven games last year before rallying down the stretch to make a bowl game, beating Western Kentucky in the Pizza Bowl. Bill C. discovered they were one of the 10 worst bowl teams since 2005.

The numbers

Rankings and records: Michigan is ranked 17th in both the AP Top 25 and the Coaches Poll. Central Michigan is not ranked in either poll. Michigan leads the all-time series 3-0.

Vegas: Michigan is a 31.5-point favorite Saturday. The over/under is 55 points. OddsShark has details and wagering information.

Weather: A high of 83 degrees, partly cloudy with a 10 percent chance of rain.

Three names to know

With Robinson gone, the keys to the Wolverine train have been officially handed to Devin Gardner, who passed for 1,219 yards with 18 total touchdowns against five interceptions during the last five games of 2012. At running back, Fitz Toussaint is the leading returning rusher (130 carries for 514 yards and five touchdowns), and will start Saturday over redshirt freshman Drake Johnson.

Jeremy Gallon is a legitimate star at wide receiver, and will be Gardner's top target. The senior caught 49 passes for 829 yards last season, and Gardner is actually the second-leading returning receiver on the team (catching 16 passes for 266 yards before moving to quarterback).

Michigan lost one all-conference lineman in Patrick Omameh, but returns another in left tackle Taylor Lewan. The Wolverines had the same five starters on the line in every game, but three have graduated, and the replacements are young and inexperienced. This will be something to watch for the Wolverines down the stretch, especially for a run-first quarterback like Gardner, who has a tendency to be sacked.

On the Chippewa side of things, running back Zurlon Tipton is one of the best in the MAC, running 252 times for 1,492 yards and 19 touchdowns last year. With a lot of questions at quarterback this year, expect Tipton to get a lot of carries.

Two things at stake

Michigan has never lost against a directional Michigan school (Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan).

The Chippewas went 1-2 against the Big Ten last year, but have yet to beat the Wolverines.

How to witness

TV: Big Ten Network

Radio: Here are your Michigan radio affiliates. And scroll down for Central Michigan affiliates here.

Online streaming: BTN2Go allows for online streaming of Saturday's game.

Further reading

For all your Michigan needs, including previews and analysis, check out Maize n Brew. For all MAC related material, including Central Michigan, check Hustle Belt.

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