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Michigan returns 16 starters from a team that went 2-4 last year where three games were canceled due to Covid. Head Coach Jim Harbaugh was given a contract extension and that put to rest the talk about firing him (at least for awhile). The offense should be improved and a new coordinator was brought in to revamp the defense. There are four straight home games to start the season and the Wolverines could win them all and a good start would be a big confidence boost for this team coming off such a lackluster 2020.
Offense: There are three players mentioned when talking about the QB. Holdover Cade McNamara played well when given the chance last season and drew high praise for his decision making, arm strength, and accuracy. Still, he will have some competition from Texas Tech transfer Alan Bowman. The ground game is solid with returnees Hassan Haskins (6.2 yard average and 6 TD’s) and Blake Corum. The receiver group is pretty much the same as last year led by Ronnie Bell (82 career receptions) and Cornelius Johnson. The offensive line gained experience last year and have 4 starters back and should progress nicely.
Defense: There is a new Def. Coordinator as Mike Macdonald was hired in the offseason. He plans to go with a 3-4 scheme and has LBs Josh Ross and Michael Barrett back and they need to improve their consistency. There is a potential first-round selection in DT Christopher Hinton and the rest of the line looks strong. Safety Daxton Hill looks poised to be a great player at safety and anchor the secondary. This side of the ball could be really good.
9/4 Western Michigan
9/18 Northern Illinois
The non-con season features 3 home games and Michigan has a great chance to win them all and get off to a very good start. Of course, the Washington game is the key and the Huskies will provide a big test but they are beatable. The other two games are must wins.
10/2 at Wisconsin
10/9 at Nebraska
10/30 at Michigan State
11/13 at Penn State
11/20 at Maryland
11/27 Ohio State
The conference schedule is difficult and features 5 road games and 4 home games. The Wolverines have to go to Wisconsin and Penn State both very difficult and if they can split those two that would be a bonus. They have to win at Michigan State and Maryland and hopefully go into Lincoln and handle Nebraska. The home schedule includes a must win against Rutgers and winnable games against Northwestern and Indiana. That leaves the season finale against Ohio State and this would be a huge shot in the arm for Harbaugh if they could pull off an upset of the hated Buckeyes.
Summary: Harbaugh’s contract extension ended speculation that he could get fired at least for a little while longer or until he loses a game he shouldn’t. The offense needs to stabilize and it looks like the defense can be pretty good. The early schedule with the first four games at home gives the Wolves a chance to get off to a good start and build momentum. Key games at Wisconsin and Penn State and holding serve at home against Northwestern and Indiana will decide how important the season finale against Ohio State will be.
Predicted Finish: 3rd Place in the East Division
Overall Record: 8-4
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