It was an incredible season for Michigan Football — a 42-27 triumph over Ohio State, a Big Ten Championship victory over Iowa, ascending to No. 2 in the country, making the College Football Playoffs. These are just a few of the highlights of what was the best season of the Jim Harbaugh era.
Unfortunately for the Wolverines their dream of playing in the National Championship didn’t come to fruition in 2022, losing to Georgia in the Orange Bowl 34-11. Despite a sour end to the season, Harbaugh, edge-rusher Aidan Hutchinson, and safety Brad Hawkins believe that the best is yet to come for the program.
“We climbed mountains this season that no one thought we could. We did some things that nobody expected this Michigan team to do, and I think we set the standard for the future of Michigan football, and we really helped this program tremendously for the future,” Hutchinson said. “All those young guys, they’ve got this scar tissue now being in the playoffs, losing and having to feel this, so I know they’re going to bounce back next year and give them hell.”
It’s easy to believe Michigan could make a serious run at the College Football Playoff yet again in 2022 — it’ll be hard to replace the leadership of players like Hutchinson, Hawkins, and the let their play do the talking style of running back Hassan Haskins. However, Michigan’s nucleus is strong with young players like Andrel Anthony, Donovan Edwards, J.J. McCarthy, as well as now veterans Blake Corum and Cade McNamara.
“I think we’ve got a lot of guys on this team coming back who really — that they listened to us leaders this year. They learned from us. They were with us through the thick and the thin. I know Michigan football will be in good hands next year with one of those guys. They’re going to step up. I already started talking to a couple of them that I know are going to be leaders next year,” Hutchinson said. “Michigan football will be in good hands, and they’ve learned this whole season what leadership is and how it’s supposed to be.”
Hutchinson said earlier this month that the loss to Michigan State in October motivated this team even more, made them dig down and go on their run leading up to the Orange Bowl. Safety Brad Hawkins said something of the same rationale about the loss to Georgia and how the young guys on the team can use it as motivation moving forward.
“These guys of course are disappointed, and this little scar tissue is not going to stop them. Starting a new year, it’s a new season, and they’re just going to continue to grow and continue to get better,” Hawkins said.
The new year has already started, it won’t be too long before the team starts their winter conditioning and spring practices. The road back to the Big Ten Championship, to making the playoffs starts now.