After a rough 2-3 start by the Michigan Wolverines, including losses to Minnesota and Rutgers, the question is begging to be answered: Is there a team left on the schedule that the Wolverines can beat? Unfortunately, the meat of the conference schedule will be opened up this Saturday night against Penn State; the margin for error is continuing to decrease. Can Michigan respond in time to bounce back and claim at least four more wins to become bowl eligible?
Here’s what the remaining schedule looks like:
10/11 vs. Penn State
10/25 @ Michigan State
11/1 vs. Indiana
11/8 @ Northwestern
11/22 vs. Maryland
11/29 @ Ohio State
Let’s take a moment to digest this.
Penn State has had its ups and downs this season, but after seeing what Michigan allowed to Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova, Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg is in line for his favorite ride at the fair. The Wolverines’ secondary absolutely has to patch up the issues before taking the field against Penn State this Saturday night. And, obviously, the kinks on offense need to be resolved somehow. Although I think Devin Gardner is heading in the right direction as a quarterback, the overall efficiency of the offseason is troublesome.
After a bye week, Michigan travels to East Lansing in what I honestly think will be the slaughtering of the season across all of college football. I sincerely hope I’m wrong in saying that, but there is absolutely nothing that leads me to believe this Wolverines team is going to be able to compete with Michigan State for 60 minutes. I can’t even imagine a scenario in which Michigan makes this a respectable game. And considering this one will be coming off a bye week—no football for the fans, an extra week of rivalry preparation for the team—it’ll just be that much more difficult to swallow.
From there, it turns to a home game against Indiana. I’ll compare the Hoosiers to Penn State, but only in the sense that it’s been a bit of a roller coaster thus far. Indiana lost to Bowling Green one week, went on the road and upset a ranked Missouri team the next week, then came back home and lost big to Maryland the week after. I will say this, though: If quarterback Nate Sudfeld has his arm working for this one, it’ll only be in addition to whatever Tevin Coleman gains on the ground. This offense isn’t as explosive as it has been the last couple seasons, but the big-play potential is still there.
A road game at Northwestern scares me. The Wildcats have been playing some of the best football in the Big Ten the last couple weeks, beating Penn State and Wisconsin. I’ve always been a fan of Pat Fitzgerald as a coach, so it’s good to see his team battling through adversity and winning big games. Can they keep it up, though? The odds of Northwestern still being on this hot streak in early November aren’t great. Even if the fire has died down by then, though, Northwestern has what it takes to combat Michigan, especially at home.
Maryland brings a good team to the table—better than what I thought before this season began. This 4-2 Terrapins team has shown what it’s capable of doing on offense, which is unfortunately more than Michigan has proven it can handle, but the defense remains to be a big question mark for Maryland. By this time in the season, I’m expecting Maryland to be further along than Michigan, and wide receiver threats Stefon Diggs and Deon Long will be matchup nightmares for the Wolverines’ secondary. A lot of pressure will be placed on Devin Gardner and Michigan’s offense, which hasn’t been a good thing so far this season.
The season finale against Ohio State looked like it was going to be a close game in the beginning of the season after Braxton Miller went down with a shoulder injury, but given the way JT Barrett has stepped in and led this lethal offense so far, it looks like the Buckeyes will have a clear advantage heading into this game. The Buckeyes’ defense has been exposed at times this season, but, especially because this game is still so far off, I’m not putting all my chips on Michigan being able to find the same success it did last season.
Final predicted record: 3-9