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Weekday mornings on Michigan Radio, Doug Tribou hosts NPR's Morning Edition, the most listened-to news radio program in the country.

College football with John U. Bacon: Spartans and Wolverines both face Huskies in Week 3

Jalen Berger, Spencer Brown, Keon Coleman
Al Goldis/AP
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FR11125 AP
Michigan State's Jalen Berger (8) had three rushing touchdowns in the Spartans' blowout win over Akron in Week 2. MSU will face a tougher challenge on the road against Washington on Saturday. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

In college football, Michigan and Michigan State both head into their games Saturday with records of 2-0. Both teams are highly ranked. Michigan held its spot at No. 4 in the country. Michigan State moved up to No. 11.

And both teams are going to be trying to tame some Huskies.

For Michigan, the Huskies of Connecticut. For Michigan State, the Huskies of Washington.

Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon joined Morning Edition host Doug Tribou to preview the games.

Saturday's games: Connecticut at Michigan - Noon; Michigan State at Washington - 7:30 p.m.

Doug Tribou: Coach Mel Tucker and the Spartans will have their first road game of the season when they face Washington in Seattle [Saturday] night. Kickoff is at 7:30. Washington is not ranked, but the Huskies won their first two games. They're not far behind the pace of the top 25. Does this meet the John U. Bacon definition of a "trap game" for Michigan State?

John U. Bacon: Almost, Doug. And for you non-football fans out there, a trap game is when you play a weak opponent before a very good one the next week. So, the temptation is to look past the lower opponent and get yourself ready for the good opponent. But falling into that is a trap. Game one you can lose to a team you should not lose to.

It's almost there, but Washington is a traditional power. You're playing in Seattle. It's across the country. I think there's enough at stake there for the Spartans to take this one seriously and not look ahead.

DT: Last week, we talked about Jim Harbaugh's quarterback competition between Michigan's Cade McNamara and J.J. McCarthy. They each got to start one game. J.J. McCarthy has been declared the winner, and will start again [Saturday]. What stood out to you about McCarthy's performance in Michigan's very easy win over Hawaii last weekend?

"[McCarthy] made that choice very easy for Harbaugh."
John U. Bacon on Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh choosing quarterback J.J. McCarthy over Cade McNamara

JUB: Well, he was doggone near perfect. He was 11 for 12. The only pass he didn't connect on, [Michigan wide receiver] Ronnie Bell dropped. [McCarthy] made that choice very easy for Harbaugh, which otherwise would be very hard because Cade McNamara, the other quarterback, won a Big Ten title last year. The first one in 18 years and beat the [Ohio State] Buckeyes soundly. And he's a returning captain this year. So that on paper is a very tough call. But McNamara was not nearly as good in the first two games.

DT: The Wolverines will host the Connecticut Huskies at noon in Ann Arbor [Saturday]. My alma mater, Syracuse, thumped Connecticut last weekend, 48 to 14. I have to say, that is not good news for Connecticut. Michigan is [even more] heavily favored in this one, but it's an extra important game for McCarthy and the offense. What do they need to do to improve before Big Ten conference play starts next weekend?

JUB: Honestly, based on the last two weeks, keep doing what they're doing. They're showing very few chinks in the armor so far. Of course, against the competition they're playing, it's hard to tell. And this won't be much better this weekend against UConn, as you point out. But really, right now, they're on all cylinders. The question is, can they keep that up as the games get more serious during the season?

DT: Well, John, the [NFL's Detroit] Lions are 0-1 on the season. They will face the Washington Commanders at Ford Field on Sunday. I was going to ask you about the game, but I think we're out of time. Does that does that sound about right? [laughing]

JUB: [laughs] I think we spent all the time we need to.

Doug Tribou joined the Michigan Radio staff as the host of Morning Edition in 2016. Doug first moved to Michigan in 2015 when he was awarded a Knight-Wallace journalism fellowship at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
John U. Bacon has worked nearly three decades as a writer, a public speaker, and a college instructor, winning awards for all three.
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