We’ve already predicted who we think Michigan football’s 2014 MVP will be this season, so now it’s time to move on and take stabs at the Wolverines’ regular season record. I asked each of our staff members to submit their vote along with a confidence number (from one to 10) and an explanation as to why they answered the way they did. The answers I received weren’t all that surprising; no one went out on a thin limb and predicted a 12-0 season, but the mix of optimism and skepticism is interesting.
David Mormino: 8-4
Confidence Level: 8
I believe the Wolverines are going to be a team that takes a step forward, while still experiencing growing pains on the offensive side of the football, so I can’t see them winning more than eight games. I think 8-4 gives Brady Hoke another year, and I believe the real season to look forward to would be 2015. Unless I see significant improvement over the course of camp leading up to the season opener, I’m going to stick with this. Realistically, UM should win every game it plays at home in 2014; the real tests come on the road. Road games have been Hoke’s nemesis, and three of those games just so happen to be against their biggest rivals. Hoke has his hands full, but an 8-4 regular season SHOULD give him a chance to coach again in 2015.
Anthony Broome: 8-4
Confidence Level: 8
I believe Michigan will finish the season at 8-4. Whether that is a successful year or not depends on the development of the roster and how things play out throughout the year. While it would only be one win higher than last year, I think this group will be leaps and bounds better than the 2013 Wolverines. They return almost all of their key players on both sides of the ball and we should see a big step up from their younger players. This is still a young team that will have growing pains, but I have them losing their three rivalry games on the road (ND, MSU, OSU) and a head-scratcher somewhere in the mix. Will they do enough to save Brady Hoke’s job? Only time will tell.
Derek Divine: 9-3
Confidence Level: 6
This season might be even tougher to predict than last season was for me. Last season I had high expectations across the board, and almost none of them were met. As much as I’d like think the Wolverines will play significantly better this season, I am still very doubtful overall. Charting nine wins would be great for the Wolverines, and even better if they can avoid narrow escapes against subpar teams. I can see Michigan losing three times during the regular season. My bold picks for their losses: Rutgers, Indiana, and Ohio State. But to be honest, I still have no idea. I guess we will find out in due time.
Anthony Kaminski: 8-4
Confidence Level: 6
I’m going with 9-3 here and honestly, I believe that’s conservative. I have been as guilty as anybody about being unrealistically optimistic in the offseason — last year I convinced myself that our youth on the interior offensive line wouldn’t be an issue and that Gorgeous Al would just sort of figure things out. This year, I’m trying to stay grounded, but looking at the schedule — I just don’t really see much worse than 9-3. Many times over the last two seasons I’ve found myself upset at the end of a game, thinking, “That’s another one we win with a competent offensive coordinator.” Well, now we have that guy. Yes, Doug Nussmeier has to deal with youth on the offensive line, but that should be at least somewhat mitigated by the schematic change. Then consider that Michigan’s defense taking a big step forward is a pretty low-variance prediction (considering Greg Mattison’s track record and how many starters that unit returns). I may regret going on the record here, but so long as this team isn’t inflicted with any devastating injuries (a la Jake Ryan and Ondre Pipkins last year) and Nussmeier is able to do what his predecessor wasn’t and come up with sound game plans and rational halftime adjustments, this team should not lose more than three regular season games.
Travis Devlin: 9-3
Confidence Level: 7
The Michigan football season is fast approaching, and needless to say, I’m very excited. Not necessarily just the season, but for all of college football. That’s just the “sports fan in me.” When I say the word “excited,” I use that word with a tremendous amount of optimism in regards to Team 135. Let’s be honest, though, whether Michigan lost or won every game last year, I would still be looking forward to the season. It’s a new year, it’s a new team, and some personnel changes that should only help the team. It can’t hurt, right? For the prediction on the season, I went 9-3, with a confidence level of 7. That may seem like a low number, but I’ll explain why in a moment. A 9-3 record would go a long way with the fans and the coaching staff, more than likely saving Brady Hoke and company from getting shown the door. Now, is a 9-3 record great? No. Is it really good? Yes. Most of all, is it improvement. Absolutely! Like most Michigan fans, I expect greatness every year, and frankly, we should. I would love to go 10-2, 11-1, even 12-0, because I honestly believe this team has what it takes to do that. That’s the first year in the Hoke era where I have felt that way. But, based on what I have seen these past few years, I have no reason to think that will happen. Therefore, my confidence level is on the lower side. I keep saying “this is the year.” This is the year Michigan football gets back to “Michigan football.” Hell, I say it every year, only to be disappointed in the end. This is a talented team, probably the most talented team we have had on paper in a while, so please, Wolverines. Fans no longer want to watch a team settling for mediocrity, they don’t deserve it, and this football team doesn’t deserve to play like it, either.
Tyler Fenwick: 8-4
Confidence Level: 8.5
I wish I could be as confident as some of these other guys and lay down a 9-3 prediction, but I don’t think Michigan is ready for that, unfortunately. I see all kinds of potential trap games on the schedule this season, specifically a road game against Northwestern and homecoming against Indiana. On top of that, the Wolverines are traveling against most of their toughest opponents. With the uncertainty at pretty every level of the offense, not to mention a special teams corps that could look really bad, I don’t think Michigan is a nine-win team in 2014.
Chad Finley: 9-3
Confidence Level: 7
The first thing I see when I look at this year’s football season is a tough road schedule for the Michigan Wolverines. After struggling last year on the road it makes me wonder how well they will they perform at Notre Dame, Michigan State, Northwestern and down in Columbus, OH. It will depend on which Devin Gardner we see this year: the one who was turnover prone or the one we saw take it to the OSU defense. The defense should be good enough to keep them in all these games. I think they should go 2-2 on the road this season. I do love the home schedule and think they should be able to run the table if the offensive line comes together strongly. They will have a tough match with Penn State. Overall I predict the Wolverines going 9-3 this year in a new offensive system.
Von Lozon: 9-3
Confidence Level: 6.5
I have the Wolverines going 9-3. I’m not very confident with my pick with my confidence being 6.5 but I am confident in for-sure wins over Appalachian State, Miami of Ohio, Minnesota and Indiana. My 3 losses the Wolverines will encounter this season are at Ohio State, at Michigan State, and home against Penn State. I do have faith in them going to Notre Dame Week Two and beating the Irish in their final game against them for probably a long time.