With the recent information coming out of Vegas stating that Michigan's over/under for wins is at 8.5, I thought it would be fun to take an early, if irreverent, look at Michigan's football schedule for the 2015 season. Jim Harbaugh is obviously the difference maker, but we've seen a lot of action surrounding the staff of assistants who will help bring Michigan back to national prominence--D.J. Durkin, Tyrone Wheatley, John Morton, and Tim Drevno. Check out our storystream to keep up with all of the coaching announcements.
Keeping uber-recruiter Greg Mattison on staff is also a very positive sign for the health of the Michigan program.
So with these new and exciting changes, let's see if Michigan really can get over that 8.5 hump...
If Brady Hoke were still leading this team, I'd have some major reservations with every game except for perhaps UNLV. With Jim Harbaugh at the helm, things certainly look a little more promising.
Utah -- the Utes have pretty much had Michigan's number in the three games they've played since first meeting up in 2002. Utah has the 2-1 edge, winning in 2008 and 2014. After beating Colorado State in the Las Vegas Bowl, Utah finished the season with a 9-4 record, but the coaching staff is in disarray with some key departures. There had also been some rumors about Kyle Whittingham leaving Utah, but A.D. Chris Hill issued a statement refuting that and showing support for Whittingham. The last time Michigan had a true away game to start the season was a 1998 loss to Notre Dame. Although I'd love to see Jim Harbaugh start out with a bang, I think his first game will result in a loss.
Oregon State -- returning to the Big House, where Michigan hasn't lost a home opener since 2008...to Utah...the Wolverines will face former Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen, who left Madison in surprising fashion. With Michigan's record in home openers sitting at 95-15-2, the energy from a capacity crowd ready to watch Jim Harbaugh in his first home game at Michigan since a 20-17 loss to Minnesota in 1986 should propel the Wolverines to a win on pure emotion alone.
UNLV -- a 7-6 outing in 2013 was bookended by 2-win seasons in 2012 and 2014. In short, not scurred. A big win for Michigan in this one; you heard it here first.
Brigham Young -- REVENGE! In 1984, the Michigan Wolverines played the BYU Cougars in the Holiday Bowl. The result wasn't just a Michigan loss, but BYU's win gave them a national championship. REVENGE! In all seriousness, though, BYU has won fewer than eight games only one time since 2008. Bronco Mendenhall knows how to coach this independent team to good wins.
Maryland -- Jim Harbaugh is a better coach than Randy Edsall. WIN!
Northwestern -- this will be the first game which sees Harbaugh rub another coach the wrong way. Making up for last year's 10-9 eye burner, Michigan should be able to actually handle the Wildcats and walk away with a lopsided victory, while Fitz walks away with a Harbaugh-sized hand print on his back. I get the strange feeling that Fitz is really going to hate Harbaugh.
Michigan State -- I'm not sure what kind of drop-off there will be with Pat Narduzzi taking the head job at Pitt; it will probably be just a small one, but enough for Michigan to take advantage of his absence. Home game. Huge rival. Harbaugh. Michigan gets it done. Dantonio scowls...some more.
Minnesota -- I love Jerry Kill and what he does with his teams, but The Jug will find its way back to Ann Arbor after what has once again become a rivalry. This isn't the Minnesota of Jim Wacker or Tim Brewster so don't expect this to be a cakewalk; Minnesota is a good football team. However, losing guys like Maxx Williams and David Cobb will hurt, but Kill is one of the best at "next guy up" football.
Rutgers -- please, whatever you do, just beat Rutgers!
Indiana -- it's time to stop talking about how Indiana is right on that edge of doing something really good. You're a terrible football team. But, hey, you're not Purdue, so at least you have that going for you.
Penn State -- one thing that can be said of the Big Ten East is that there are some pretty dynamic coaches on that side of the divide: Harbaugh, Meyer, Dantonio. James Franklin is a big deal, but not in that Ron Burgundy kind of way. Franklin really is a big deal. Penn State didn't have to sit through another season without a bowl game, and Franklin delivered a come-from-behind win against a Boston College team that has been solid under Steve Addazio. With Christian Hackenberg returning, there's no doubt that the Nittany Lions are going to be better than their 7-6 record in 2014. Some people like to poop on Franklin because of his time at Vandy, but HE WAS AT VANDERBILT! He's a very good coach.
Ohio State -- the rivalry between Harbaugh and Meyer is enough to give all of us fangasms. I honestly have no idea what will happen. If I were to guess, I'd say that Michigan loses this one. With Ohio State's (unfair) ability to reload at the quarterback position, they're going to be a tough draw no matter what. So one more year with losing to the Buckeyes is probably in store.
Michigan's bye week comes on October 24th. With what I'm seeing, it's entirely possible that Michigan will be 5-2 going into that bye, with losses against Utah and Brigham Young, and a thrilling win over Michigan State. This leaves them needing to win four of the final five games to beat the 8.5 over/under. That's going to be a tall order. Wins against Rutgers and Indiana are probably guarantees, but the games against Minnesota, Penn State, and Ohio State are going to be tough. I believe that Michigan will beat Minnesota, but will probably drop the last two against PSU and OSU. The energy spent on defeating Michigan State earlier in the season will mean no surprise wins late in the season. In their losses, though, we can probably expect Michigan to be in each until the clock is at zeros; Harbaugh and his staff will have the team competing in ways we haven't seen in years.
Ultimately, the Wolverines will finish with an 8-4 regular season and a mediocre bowl win for nine total wins, and the season will still be seen as a success given the five wins we saw in 2014.