Head Coach: Jim Harbaugh
2015 Record: 10-3
2015 Bowl: 41-7 Win over Florida at Citrus Bowl
2016 Returning Starters: 8 Offense, 5 Defense
Odds to win 2017 Championship Game: +1100
Odds to win 2016 Big Ten Championship: +238
Regular Season over/under: over 10 (-115), under 10 (-105)
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The Michigan Wolverines really established momentum last season with QB Jake Rudock, but now in 2016 they will have to once again find the QB to make it all come together.
Those options will include Houston transfer John O’Korn, sophomore William Speight or even junior Shane Morris, but Jim Harbaugh has a knack with quarterbacks. Out of three options, it seems a foregone conclusion he can make at least one of them work. Michigan will be there in the Big Ten, it is just a matter of how, one might say.
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O’Korn is not a bad option. He threw 34 TDs in a season-plus at Houston, and Speight did well last season when he led the team to a comeback win against Minnesota. The WRs will not leave whomever it is high and dry, with a strong unit that features first team All-Big Ten WR Jehu Chesson and All-American TE Jake Butt. WR Amara Darboh is also in his senior year and should have a big season.
In the backfield, senior De’Veon Smith will be the primary ball carrier and senior Ty Isaac and fifth-year senior Drake Johnson will also see plenty of touches. On the line Michigan must find a replacement for C Graham Glascow, but it does return four others, including three as seniors.
Michigan was a dominant defensive team last season, ranking No. 6 in the nation in allowing just 16.4 points per game, while giving up just 158.5 passing yards and 280.7 total yards per game, good for No. 3 and No. 4 in the nation. It was a blitzing attack that will still undergo a few minor changes going into this season.
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The Wolverines will run a base four-man front this season and DB Jabril Peppers, who won 2015 Big Ten Freshman of the year, is going to the SAM linebacker and big playmaker within it. He will still see time at CB and S, too, as arguably the single biggest key to Michigan’s attack this season. All American CB Jourdan Lewis is part of a superb secondary that is one of the best in the country.
The DL has senior Chris Wormley, Ryan Glascow and Taco Charlton. It will welcome talented freshman Rashan Gary to the unit, too. Gary was the first No. 1 ranked prospect to sign with Michigan and he could help make this DL one of the best in the Big Ten and the entire country really.
Kenny Allen will be the kicker and punter this season, with Blake O’Neill departed. The return unit will be loaded this season, and Peppers, Lewis and Chesson all helped that unit be one of the best in the country last year.
Michigan opens the season Sept. 3 at home against Hawaii and posts AAC doormat UCF in Week 2. It will be at home the first five weeks of the season and faces Colorado, Penn State and Wisconsin in Weeks 3, 4, and 5. The season concludes at Ohio State on Nov. 26.
Michigan has the defense to contend in the Big Ten, and this is a team that can knock off the absolute best, though last year’s season concluding loss to OSU really hurt. The Wolverines have a pretty manageable schedule this year, and it keeps the door open for Harbaugh to build on last season’s momentum with an even bigger 2016.
Prediction: 11 wins
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