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Bookend losses ultimately cost the Michigan Wolverines a shot at making the program’s first ever appearance in the College Football Playoff. Most bothersome about the second loss is the fact that it came against the despised Ohio State Buckeyes dropping the Wolverines to 0-fer through four tries with Jim Harbaugh at the helm. The exasperating defeat saw them barely show up in a 41-15 laydown against the Florida Gators in the Peach Bowl. With key personnel gone on both sides of the ball, it’s going to take a bit of time for the Wolverines to fire on all cylinders. But once it does, U of M will definitely have the horses on hand to finally put an end to the Buckeyes reign atop the Big Ten standings. Both teams currently check in as +175 favorites to win the B1G at online sportsbooks, so the matchup on the final Saturday of November is most definitely one to tune in for.
Michigan’s offense was good last season. Not great; good. It’s going to have to be a heck of a lot better than that in 2019-20 with a multitude of key contributors not returning on the other side of the ball. This will be Shea Patterson’s final go of it at the collegiate level. He proved to be better than average in his first full season as the Maize and Blue’s QB1 throwing for 2,600 yards and a 22:7 TD/INT ratio, but failed to throw for much of any yardage in all three of the team’s defeats. The program looked the way of Alabama to rectify the unit’s inability to produce explosive plays by luring Josh Gattis to Ann Arbor. Pace of play will be stressed most in the new attack, and the Wolverines look to have ample talent on hand to run opposing defenses into a frenzy. Wide receivers Nico Collins and Donovan Peoples-Jones could be in lone for breakouts in their junior campaigns, while the ground game should flourish however its assembled behind one of if not the best offensive line in the Big Ten.
You can be certain Greg Mattison isn’t very popular in Michigan circles after bolting for Columbus to join the Buckeyes defensive coaching staff leaving the rebuild of the Wolverines defensive line left in the inexperienced hands of Shaun Nua who comes over from Arizona State. He and defensive coordinator Don Brown get the displeasure of replacing studs Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich. Though a huge pipeline of incoming talent has arrived, it’s a bit wet behind the ears forcing Donovan Jeter, Kwity Payne and Aidan Hutchinson into immediate action. Replacing Devin Bush Jr.’s outputs will be close to impossible, but the linebacker corps has solid talent and depth with Khaleke Hudson and Josh Uche leading the charge. The secondary also looks to be in good shape with rising star Daxton Hill to become a household name sooner rather than later. It won’t play up to last season’s standards, but Michigan’s retooled defense will at one point finally get it. Once it does, it will be one of the better stop units in the country
Michigan’s schedule couldn’t line up any better for the scenario that faces the program heading into the regular season. After a butt kicking of the Blue Raiders in the season opener, the Wolverines will be tested by an Army team coming off its best season in decades. The Black Knights will be the perfect test for a team that will go on bye the following week to get ready for a war in Madison against a decent but by no means great Wisconsin team. Win that game, and they’ll be undefeated heading into the Week 6 tilt with Iowa. By that time, everything should be coming together on both sides of the ball making the stretch run one to keep an eye on as the team clamors for a bid to the CFP. None of it will mean anything if the Wolverines don’t finally topple the Urban Meyer-less Buckeyes in the finale. This is the season Harbaugh must defeat Ohio State and make up for all those that lost money backing him at top rated sportsbooks the previous four seasons.