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Predicting Michigan’s record and where the program is headed in 2019

It might not ever lay out more favorably for the Wolverines and Jim Harbaugh to get over the hump than it does this year.

NCAA Football: Big Ten Media Days Jim Young-USA TODAY Sports

We can preview positions all we want here. We can break down all of the Michigan Football storylines. But people want to know how this team is actually going to look, so now it’s time to put a prediction in stone.

Even predictions will garnish eye-rolls from people seeing as this team has had big expectations before, but it is what it is. For what this writer’s opinion is worth, this is how I see it all shaking out.

Alright, let us get into it.

Week 1 vs. Middle Tennessee State (Aug. 31, 7:30 p.m. ET)

Where things stand of this posting, the Wolverines are a 33-point favorite in this game. This is a point spread that they probably could have covered last year with a more ancient offense, so one would assume they should have no problem here. Though, there could be some offensive things to iron out early and some may prefer them happen now instead of down the stretch, Whatever happens, it will be good to have on film.

Prediction: Win (1-0)

Week 2 vs. Army (Sept. 7, 12 p.m. ET)

This is a popular upset pick early on and it has every right to be, as Army is coming off of an 11-win season and took Oklahoma to overtime last year. It would not be a shock in the least bit if Army puts a scare into Michigan and seeing as this is a potential struggle everyone seems to think could be coming, it would not be out of the question that Michigan gets popped here. However, they have too much on both sides of the ball (a theme you’ll see a lot in this prediction piece) and it should be able to win out as long as they don’t mentally check out.

Prediction: Win (2-0)

Week 3: BYE

Week 4 at Wisconsin (Sept. 21, 12 p.m. ET)

It’s always tough to go play at Camp Randall, but the task is not quite as tall earlier in the season and this Wisconsin team, outside of Jonathan Taylor, feels like a tick below what they have been in the past. Their offensive line is terrific most every year, but whoever they start at quarterback, whether it be Jack Coan or a true freshman in Graham Mertz (any relation to Fred and Ethel? There’s a reference for the boomers out there), might have a tough time with the speed of the Michigan defense. It’s a tough atmosphere, but with two weeks to prep, they’d better get it done.

Prediction: Win (3-0, 1-0 B1G)

Week 5 at Rutgers (Sept. 28, TBA)

Rutgers is bad. They might be a little better this season, but not enough to climb out of the Big Ten cellar. Sorry but there is not much else to say here.

Prediction: Win (4-0, 2-0 B1G)

Week 6 vs. Iowa (Oct. 5, 12 p.m. ET - Homecoming)

Iowa lost two first round talents with both T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant leaving early for the NFL, causing them to lose their two best offensive playmakers. That has not cooled the hype around Nate Stanley and the Hawkeyes, though, as they have been installed as a team that is one of the favorites to come out of the Big Ten West. This game is going to come down to just how good Stanley really is because this feels like the point in the year where Michigan’s young defense may start to click. Iowa has the potential to put a scare into Michigan and maybe beat them, but the Wolverines have the advantage at home and on homecoming.

Prediction: Win (5-0, 3-0 B1G)

Week 7 at Illinois (Oct. 12, TBA)

Illinois is better than Rutgers, but that might be it in terms of Big Ten teams. This one could be interesting seeing as its a road team in a game that might be somewhat hard to get up for, but Brandon Peters is set to start for the Illini and this could be a revenge game for him against his former program. Don’t be surprised if this is one of those “way closer than it has any business to be” games that sets social media aflame heading into the enormously important stretch run.

Prediction: Win (6-0, 4-0 B1G)

Week 8 at Penn State (Oct. 19, TBA)

It feels like there is a good chance this winds up being a night game, which is going to give people the serious scaries despite the fact that Penn State lost a lot of talent. That environment is crazy, though and they should have a pretty good defense, which makes this probably Michigan’s toughest test of the season to this point. There has not been a close game in the series between these two teams with Jim Harbaugh and James Franklin, but this could wind up being one and it would be fascinating to see which coach comes out on top in crunch time with both men coming under fire for their decision making in the past. If this Michigan team is as good as we think they are, they should find a way to win.

Prediction: Win (7-0, 5-0 B1G)

Week 9 vs. Notre Dame (Oct. 26, TBA)

I do not really care if this is a hot take or not, but I will say it anyways. When Michigan and Notre Dame opened the season last year, Michigan was the better and more talented football game. They got punched in the mouth early on because they showed up looking like deer trapped in the headlights and the Irish rode a raucous home crowd to a big early lead. That was unacceptable.

This game comes in a weird spot, but essentially serves as a College Football Playoff elimination game later in the year, which is awesome and a great test for both teams. Once again, the talent level is about even, but I can see the script being flipped with Michigan pouring it on a bit early and Notre Dame being taken aback by the atmosphere before it gets a bit tight late in the game. All things being even heading into the year, the Wolverines get the edge for being the home team.

Prediction: Win (8-0, 5-0 B1G)

Week 10 at Maryland (Nov. 2, 12 p.m. ET)

Maryland is entering another new coaching regime with Mike Locksley now at the helm as that program looks to stabilize itself moving forward. They are probably a few years away from being back to being a thorn in the side of teams in the East, but this is their homecoming game and the script helmets are coming out, which should look really cool. That’s about the only win of the day I can predict here for Maryland.

Prediction: Win (9-0, 6-0 B1G)

Week 11: BYE

Week 12 vs. Michigan State (Nov. 16, TBA)

The football scheduling gods are going to make Jim Harbaugh’s team earn it this year if they survive the earlier games on the schedule and make it to mid-November with a shot to Indianapolis on the line. In comes Mark Dantonio and the perpetually overlooked Michigan State Spartans, who had one of the worst offenses in all of college football last season and remedied that by playing musical chairs with their assistants. However, they will have one of the nation’s top defenses and they can physically keep up with Michigan in a dog fight. We will have a much better sense of how this could go down once we see how Brian Lewerke returns, but he and his brethren will have to do better than 94 total yards of offense.

Dantonio is 2-0 against Harbaugh at Michigan Stadium and the home team has yet to win a game in this series between the two coaches. There is no love lost here and this is one of the most brutal (and petty) rivalries in the sport. Whether MSU is still in it by this point will not matter and they will be ready to ruin Michigan’s season one way or another. It might be pandering or it might just be a gut feeling, but it feels like the Wolverines should win this one. They have to.

Prediction: Win (10-0, 7-0 B1G)

Week 13 at Indiana (Nov. 23, TBA)

Michigan and MSU are going to beat the holy hell out of each other and whether the Wolverines win or not, they are going to be exhausted going into Indiana, which is always a bit of a house of horrors and we see crazy stuff happen in this game every year. The Hoosiers have been close a few times to knocking Michigan off, but have always come up short. This might be one of the better Indiana teams in the last few years and if they catch Michigan sleeping, it is going to be another scare heading into the Ohio State game. Because Michigan has been the Lucy to Indiana’s Charlie Brown, we will stick with the Wolverines here.

Prediction: Win (11-0, 8-0 B1G)

Week 14 vs. Ohio State (Nov. 30, 12 p.m. ET)

Here we go. The one that everybody has been waiting for. When you look at these two teams heading into the season, I have way more questions about Ohio State than I do Michigan, but what we are unsure of right now is how each team will look at this point in the season. How good is Justin Fields actually? Will there be a dropoff from Urban Meyer to Ryan Day? How do they replace the talent they lost last year?

Michigan has to win this game this year no matter what. It will not salvage that they could not get the job done against Meyer, but that does not make a difference anymore. If you cannot make this a respectable rivalry, because OSU has won 14 of the last 15, it ceases to remain one. With all of the philosophical changes Michigan has made and the fact that this game is at home, I expect them to win this game and you should expect them to win it. However, I refuse to go on the record right now and predict them to win. Coming off of a year where they were “better” than OSU and still gave up nearly 70 points, to break out the pom poms and say that I’m confident in them would come off as delusional. They need to earn that benefit of the doubt.

Prediction: Loss (11-1, 8-1 B1G)

The Verdict

To get so close to a perfect season and then lose to OSU again would be a huge buzzkill, even if they still wound up playing for a Big Ten title. Getting to Indy and winning the conference title is the biggest goal that should be circled for this season. Is there a scenario in play where they could lose The Game and still make it? Sure, but that sort of seems unlikely.

I’m just an idiot behind a keyboard, so what I think will happen does not mean much of anything in the grand scheme of things. But I will jump on the soapbox and say all prior are excuses are now out the window barring a catastrophic injury or two or three that totally derail the season. The toughest games are at home, they are plenty talented and it feels like they are in the right direction from a philosophical standpoint on offense. Failure to beat the rivals and make a trip to Indianapolis would be a big problem.

If it feels as if this is a negative way to look at things, you may have a point. But the main takeaway here is that this team and this program has everything it needs and all the resources available to do something special this year, and there is a great chance they are able to finally do that. I wouldn’t worry as much about the College Football Playoff because to a certain extent, that is out of Michigan’s hands. Controlling what they can control means beating MSU and OSU at home, winning the East and taking care of the West’s champion. It does not seem like much of a stretch to suggest that could happen, but if you’re in “wait and see” mode and do not want the hype, you are totally justified in that. Personally, that’s where things are at on this end.

Poll

How many games will Michigan win in 2019?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    0-6
    (22 votes)
  • 5%
    7-9
    (68 votes)
  • 49%
    10-11
    (635 votes)
  • 43%
    12 and beyond
    (569 votes)
1294 votes total Vote Now