2015 was a great season. To a lifelong or diehard Wolverine fan that hangs in there no matter the outcome, you know exactly what I mean when I say “great season”. In recent years, fans went through a rollercoaster ride of emotion, ranging from a 11-win season under first year Brady Hoke, to a 5-7 disappointment “rebuilding” 3rd year. When Harbaugh took over, fans rejoiced and a feeling that huge things were in store. They knew what they were getting with this homerun hire. However, no one really realized how fast the “rebuild” would be. In one year, Michigan doubled their win total from the previous year of 10 and dominated an SEC East Champion Florida in the Citrus Bowl on New Years Day. Yes, a New Years Bowl that many were NOT predicting this team would go. I remember fondly, looking on Twitter, seeing so called expert predictions claiming that Michigan will go anywhere from 6 to 8 wins. A lot has happened since those predictions. Now, we’re talking about a B1G contender out of of Michigan….and it isn’t just the Spartans. Michigan has a manageable, but challenging non-conference schedule of Hawaii, Central Florida, and Colorado. After that, conference scheduling starts with home games of Penn State and Wisconsin before leaving home for the first time to travel to New Jersey against Rutgers. I’m here to provide a best and worst case scenarios for this year’s Michigan Wolverines.
I’m the type of guy that likes to hear the bad news first, so here is my worst case scenario for the Wolverines. Michigan may have gone 3-0 against their non-conference opponents, but they are having issues finding their QB and their Offensive Line is not quite as good as predicted. Michigan gets a close home victory against Penn State, thanks to the running game of De’Veon Smith and Ty Issacs. Michigan’s next home opponent, Wisconsin, becomes a defensive battle. Both offenses struggle to get anything going, but one pick six and a FG become an insurmountable lead as Wisconsin wins 17-7. This loss motivates the Wolverines and blows out Rutgers 42-17 on the road. A much needed bye helps Michigan as they gather a Homecoming win over Illinois. Michigan’s defense keeps the game close in East Lansing, but the offense can’t get it together as they drop their second loss 24-10. Michigan wins the next week at home against Maryland, but drops a tough one to Iowa in Iowa City. Indiana gives Michigan all they can handle, but 2 late Touchdowns give Michigan the win. Their last game in Columbus would be a forgotten one as they get blown away 49-21. Final record: 8-4
Alright, the bad news is over. Good news? I think that 8-4 won’t happen and that Michigan is too good and talented to have that bad of a year. To some, 8 wins is great and a boost to moral for most schools. But, Michigan isn’t most schools. Here is their best case scenario.
Michigan solves their QB issues early and blow out their non-conference match ups. Michigan takes care of business against Penn State and Wisconsin at home to finish off their 5 game home stretch. Michigan and Rutgers isn’t even close and Illinois doesn’t gather much offense against a top 5 nationally rated defense. At 7-0, they travel to East Lansing. Coach Dantonio has the defense ready, but forgets to tell the offense who they are playing. Michigan doesn’t have to worry about a last second miracle as they win by 17 to break the losing spell to the Spartans. Maryland is a great tune up for their next game, Iowa, and takes both. No scare here, as Michigan rolls Indiana. At 11-0, Michigan gets national attention and is finally getting talked about as a serious contender for the B1G Championship. For that to happen, they have to take care of business in Columbus to take down the Buckeyes. Ohio State is 10-1 heading into their matchup, but have a 8-0 conference record. The first half of the game is pretty tight and there isn’t much between the two. A couple breaks go OSU’s way, and the Buckeyes escape with a victory. Even though Ohio State got picked to go to the championship game, Michigan gets picked to go the Rose Bowl. Final record: 11-1
Of course, there are chances that Michigan goes worse than 8 wins and more than 11, but when I look over the schedule about the realistic possibilities, this team has a great chance to outshine and have an amazing season for the 2nd year under Coach Harbaugh. The defense is there and the offense has the pieces to complement them. If you like a good roller coaster ride without the sickness after, you might want to strap in and hang on.