2020-2021 Michigan Wolverines Football preview

Pierson VanGorp

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As the big ten returns to the college football slate, so does the hype and criticism for the Michigan Wolverines. Other than the Florida State Seminoles and the Texas Longhorns, the Wolverines are the meme of college football and the most hated team in college football. This is mainly due to the head coach, Jim Harbaugh. Since he was hired in 2014, the expectations have been through the roofs for the former NFL coach. Fans expected him to dominate the big ten and to have a championship within 5 years. But as it turns out, that has not how things have panned out. Harbaugh has a 47-18 record in his first 5 seasons as a head coach with a 0-5 record versus Ohio State. Going into his 6th season, Michigan fans believe the hot seat is getting hotter and hotter. Another disappointing season would leave fans wanting Harbaugh out at head coach. With this added pressure, Harbaugh needs to have a satisfactory season in order to keep his job safe. So with that said, let’s look at Michigan’s unique schedule, what fans should expect to see, and who will win in every game.


Michigan at Minnesota 10/24: L

The Wolverines travel to Minneapolis to start the season and it should be a challenge for this young Michigan team. Minnesota regains one of their biggest weapons, Rashad Bateman, back from the opt out. They also reclaim stud QB Tanner Morgan. Although the offense retains some key weapons, they only get 5 defensive starters back. The Gophers secondary is the most experienced part of the defense. The D-line and pass rush should be a weak spot for this Minnesota team. It will be critical for the wolverines to win the running game versus the gophers. The 1st time starting QB, Joe Milton, will lead the Michigan offense and the success or failure will come from him. This game will be a back and forth battle with big time plays coming from each team. Harbaugh and the Wolverines have been known to start their first game of the season of flat. That leads me to take the Gophers in a close, low scoring battle. Prediction: Minnesota 24 Michigan 21


Michigan vs Michigan State 10/31: W

After starting the season 0-1, the Wolverines will come out fired up against a new face in Mel Tucker and the Michigan State Spartans. I believe that with the coaching change, the Spartans will benefit and give Michigan a better fight than recent years. MSU currently has a QB battle with Rocky Lombardi, Noah Kim, Payton Thorne, and Theo Day. I believe it will be Lombardi, but as the season progresses, one of the younger QB’s will get the job. The Spartan defense loses a few key pieces like Kenny Willekes but the defense should still be a solid group. With that being said, I think the Spartans keep it close but lose the game late. Prediction: Michigan 31 MSU 21


Michigan at Indiana 11/7: W

After defeating the Spartans, and coming off a bye, the Wolverines travel to Bloomington to take on the Indiana Hoosiers. Indiana has been a notorious team to give Michigan a fight but can never beat them. Michigan has dominated the series but most not if all the games have been close. Last year was a blowout win by the Wolverines but I expect this one to be really close. Indiana has a new quarterback this year in Michael Penix Jr. He won the battle versus Peyton Ramsey, proving he is a good QB. I believe Indiana can beat the Wolverines, but with Michigan coming off a bye, I think Michigan wins it last second. Prediction: Michigan 38 Indiana 35


Michigan vs Wisconsin 11/14: W

After narrowly beating the Hoosiers, the Wolverines will take on a sneaky Wisconsin team. The Badgers lost their vital piece in Jonathan Taylor. The team ran their offense through him last season. I believe this is a key loss and one of the reasons why Wisconsin will struggle in this game. The Badgers retain Jack Coan ( QB) and most of their defensive players. A common theme for Harbaugh and his Wolverines is to beat down on any team who beat them in the previous year (not including Ohio State). Michigan won’t “blow out” the badgers but they will totally shut down their offense. In a very low scoring game, the Wolverines will come away with the win at home. Prediction: Michigan 21 Wisconsin 10


Michigan at Rutgers 11/21: W

This game should not be close. Rutgers has been the laughing stalk of college football for the last 4 years while finishing last in the BIG East in the last 4 years. Michigan has dominated them in every game they have played in the last decade. They won 78-0 against the Scarlet Knights in 2016. Rutgers does have a new head coach in Greg Schiano. I do like this hiring as Schiano has proved he could win as Ohio State’s DC when Urban Meyer was there. Rutgers could be headed in the right direction, but they will get smacked by Michigan this year. Prediction: Michigan 52 Rutgers 14


Michigan vs Penn State 11/28: L

After the win versus a low talented Rutgers team, the Wolverines will be 4-1 when they face Penn State. I believe this will be the 2nd best team Michigan will face, behind the team down south. Michigan went into college station in 2019 as the underdog and almost came back from a 21-0 lead losing 28-21. Michigan had an incredible second half that was cut short after WR Ronnie Bell dropped a touchdown pass that could have tied the game. This year, the game is at the big house which will help Michigan out. Penn State returns some key offensive pieces like QB Steve Clifford, RB Journey Brown, RB Noah Cain, and TE Pat Freiermuth. On defense, the Nittany Lions lose a key piece in LB Micah Parsons, but they still retain most of the 2019 defense. The Wolverines will get out with a fast start but Penn State will be too much for this Michigan squad. Penn State is too talented offensively and Michigan will have no answer at the end of the game for the PSU attack. Prediction: Penn State 35 Michigan 24


Michigan vs Maryland 12/5: W

This game is an interesting one to say the least. Maryland just picked up Taulia Tagovailoa, former Alabama QB and the brother of Tua Tagovailoa. Maryland also had a scary recruiting class ranked #31 in the country according to 247sports. New 5 star Rakim Jarret looks to be one of Tualia’s main targets this year. Can Maryland keep this game close? Yes. Will they keep it close? Sort of. I believe that Maryland will have Michigan on the ropes in the first half. Michigan faces Ohio State in the next week so this is a trap game in my mind. But in the second half Michigan will pull away and take care of business. Maryland’s head coach, Mike Locksley, is good offensive mind but he has not proven he can win the big games yet. Michigan wins by double digits after a great effort from Joe Milton and the Michigan offense. Prediction: Michigan 42 Maryland 28


Michigan at Ohio State 12/12: L

THE GAME! The biggest game of the year for Michigan every year. In recent years, not only has Michigan not been able to beat the Buckeyes but they have had issues keeping this game close. Whether it has been better recruits or better coaching, the Buckeyes have straight up dominated Michigan. Don Brown and his defense has gotten embarrassed the last 2 years giving up 56 and 62. That amount of points given up will never give Michigan a chance to win. If Michigan wants any chance to beat Ohio State this year then their defense is going to have to come up big against the offensive firepower. Ohio State might be the most loaded team in the nation. They have a top 3 QB in college football (Justin Fields), talented RB ( Trey Sermon), 2 fantastic young WR (Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave), and arguably the best O-line in the country. That’s just their offense. The Ohio state defense returns 5 starters who all played in a college football playoff game last year. I believe “the game” will be a close one this year. An underdog Michigan team will be fired up and pissed off and will be flying over. The offenses will shine for both teams. At halftime, the score will be close and each team will have chances to win the game late, but the Buckeyes will be the ones to come out victorious in this game. Michigan gives Ohio State everything they have but they come up short. Prediction: Ohio State 42 Michigan 38