Jim Harbaugh is known for quickly turning around programs, but also having a lot of success winning. Some of the turnarounds happened quicker than others. Regardless of your thoughts about him, he’s won 10 games in three of the four years, but not got to the Big Ten Championship or College Football Playoff.
This year may be different, though. Here are five reasons why Michigan will get over the hurdle and make the College Football Playoff.
1. Schedule advantage
Yes, this is the year stars align with all three monster rivalry games (Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State) at home. Their toughest road game probably will be Penn State. They also don’t face Northwestern or Nebraska — the only time Michigan would potentially play them is in the Big Ten Championship.
2. New and likely improved offensive units
Ed Warriner is about to start his second year as offensive line coach. I saw him up close on the sideline last year in pre-game warmups very engaged, not only with his unit but recruits. Jon Runyan, Ben Bredeson, Cesar Ruiz and Michael Onwenu are all back playing together for a second straight season. The depth with Stephen Spanellis, Andrew Steuber, Chuck Filiaga, Jalen Mayfield and others hopefully create an even deeper line in 2019.
Offensive coordinator Josh Gattis was given the keys to the offense. Not only has he been successful in the past at Penn State and Alabama, he’s bringing a fresh approach to Michigan that fans have been waiting a long time to see.
It’s not been clear exactly who calls the plays on offense in the past, so we’ll see if this change can improve the efficiency.
3. Experienced quarterback
Shea Patterson has one more chance to climb the mountain and make the top of college football. He had a difficult season opener last year in South Bend, but things will look a bit different with Gattis.
The keys for Patterson this year are to stay healthy, build off each week and rise up against rivals. He’s got competition as well, so I’m not saying he’s the starter but the others will be hungry to win the spot, and that will only make him more motivated to improve.
4. A Don Brown defense
Anyone who has watched Michigan’s defense since Don Brown has arrived knows they have the chance each year to be not only the best in the Big Ten, but also in the country. He’s consistently been able to fill gaps when guys have moved on, but this year the question is how successful can he fill the shoes of Rashan Gary, Chase Winovich and Devin Bush. It will be interesting to see what results new coaches Shaun Nua and Anthony Campanile bring to the football field, as they have already brought good results on the recruiting trail.
5. Due for some luck
It sometimes takes a bit of luck and bounces in their favor to make a deep run to the end of the season. Teams can only control going out there and trying to win, but all the great teams get lucky bounces here and there to help them make a deep run. If Michigan can get a little luck and also avoid injuries to key players, that can really impact a run to the College Football Playoff.
Twitter Reactions and Winning Reaction
I asked this question on Twitter and had many great explanations.
Michigan’s in the preseason top-10 by many, even picked to run the table and win the Big Ten to make the College Football Playoff.— David Noe (@DavidRNoe) July 10, 2019
For those thinking Michigan will make the College Football Playoff, give me your best reason why. Your answer may just wind up in my story.
They are more talented then every team on their schedule except OSU. Senior QB and an offense that can be prolific and unpredictable. Top 30 o line and a lot of depth on most of the field. Will have a top 30 defense and toughest games are at home. It’s all lined up for them— Zach Craighton (@maizenblue35899) July 10, 2019
I think all the pieces to the puzzle are finally in place to make it happen. You have players full of talent. Bringing in Gattis & Nua will only bring out even more talent in these players. Its time for Michigan Football to shine and shut up the haters.— Shannon Louise (@LetsFindOut29) July 10, 2019
Do you think Michigan makes the College Football Playoff in 2019? Let’s hear from you!
Follow on Twitter: @DavidRNoe/@MaizenBrew