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Ranking Michigan’s 2022 opponents from easiest to hardest

Can Michigan run the table in 2022?

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

We’re still three months away from the Michigan football season, but it’s time to start thinking about which programs will bring Michigan the most trouble in 2022.

No. 12: vs. UConn (September 17)

Former NFL head coach Jim Mora, who coached the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks in the 2000s, is UConn’s new head coach. That makes things a little more interesting, but UConn has been a bad football program for over a decade and was 1-11 last season. Michigan should be out for blood in this one and steamroll the Huskies.

No. 11: vs. Hawaii (September 10)

Hawaii is an absolute mess right now. Former head coach Todd Graham created a toxic culture by bullying and threatening players, and even though Graham is now gone his actions have damaged Hawaii’s 2022 roster. 20 players entered the transfer portal for Hawaii since the allegations came out last year. The last time Michigan faced Hawaii they demolished them 63-3. Expect a similar result this time around, too.

No. 10: vs. Colorado State (September 3)

New head coach Jay Norvell comes to CSU after a successful 2021 season as the head coach of Nevada where he went 8-5 with one of the most potent passing attacks in the nation with quarterback Carson Strong. Colorado State’s offense will be well prepared and willing to take shots down the field, but there’s still a wide talent gap between CSU and Michigan. Colorado State went 3-9 last season. This is Michigan’s season opener and home opener.

No. 9: vs. Illinois (November 19)

Bret Bielema may have been a vanilla hire for Illinois last season, but he’s a coach who succeeded at a high clip during his time at Wisconsin. Illinois went 5-7 last season but shocked the masses when they beat Penn State in an insane nine-overtime game. Former Syracuse quarterback Tommy DeVito transferred to Illinois and could give their offense a spark, but this is the game before The Game against Ohio State and Michigan will likely be playing angry in this one in preparation for what’s to come next.

No. 8: vs. Maryland (September 24)

Terrapins quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa is considered one of the best in the Big Ten, but the Maryland team is middle of the pack in the conference at best.

Maryland may have been 7-6 last year but Terrapins head coach Mike Locksley is 12-18 at Maryland and Michigan beat the Tagovailoa led offense 59-18. Maryland’s defense will likely be bottom tier again in 2022 and Michigan should be able to make quick work of Maryland.

No. 7: at Indiana (October 8)

Indiana was surprisingly bad last season, finishing the year 2-10, but the Hoosiers did net a 38-21 victory over Michigan in 2020 and head coach Tom Allen has turned them into a team that fights. However, Michigan got back on track against IU last year, winning 29-7. Indiana’s offense should be better with Auburn transfer running back Shaun Shivers, North Carolina transfer wideout Emery Simmons, and Missouri transfer quarterback Connor Bazelak.

Indiana’s offense and defense were both among the worst in the nation last year and it’ll take a lot to go right for the program to turn things around in a drastic manner this season.

No. 6: at Rutgers (November 5)

Michigan won a nail-biter against Rutgers last season. Michigan QB Cade McNamara threw for just seven yards in the second half and the Rutgers defense was relentless. Head coach Greg Schiano coaches a scrappy brand of football that has the Rutgers team trending in the right direction. Rutgers has just one player from its 2021 defense returning and that could have negative consequences for a team that went 5-7 last year.

No. 5: vs. Nebraska (November 12)

Nebraska went 3-9 in 2021 but they easily could have had nine wins or better. They were a team that consistently lost heartbreakers, such as their 32-29 loss to Michigan in Lincoln. Head coach Scott Frost has underachieved, but keeping him as the coach was a smart move by athletic director Trev Alberts — Frost’s players think highly of him.

Texas transfer QB Casey Thompson will lead a potent enough Nebraska offense against the Wolverines. This could be a Michigan blowout, or it could be another close one.

No. 4: at Iowa (October 1)

Iowa is usually a scrappy opponent, especially at home where they upset Michigan back in 2016. However, it’s hard not to look past the fact that Michigan beat the Hawkeyes 42-3 in the Big Ten Championship game last December. The crowd will be rowdy at Kinnick Stadium, but Michigan is battle-tested after last season.

No. 3: vs. Penn State (October 15)

Penn State underachieved with a 7-6 record but was a handful for Michigan in Happy Valley, a game the Wolverines won late in the 4th quarter, 21-17. Quarterback Sean Clifford is returning, and he’s someone Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh respects a ton, a QB that can single-handedly keep the team in the game. Michigan has whooped on Penn State a couple of times at Michigan Stadium during the Harbaugh era, but this game could go any which way.

No. 2: vs. Michigan State (October 29)

Michigan lost a heartbreaker in East, Lansing last October. They headed into the game undefeated and walked out with a 37-33 loss. Fortunately for the Wolverines, their season got better from there, but that gloomy day at MSU is forever forged in their mind. Michigan State won’t have RB Kenneth Walker III to rely on this year (five touchdowns against Michigan), but head coach Mel Tucker brought in Wisconsin transfer Jalen Berger to fill the void, a player who may do some damage in 2022.

These two teams hate each other, it’s personal, it’s something both fanbases think about all year long, and it’ll likely be another weird game as they all seem to be one way or the other.

No. 1: at Ohio State (November 26)

Michigan beat Ohio State 42-27 last season at The Big House, but now they must travel to Ohio and play in one of the most hostile environments not only in college football but in all of sports.

Ohio State still has a plethora of talent on both sides of the ball and it’ll be incredibly difficult for Michigan to pull off two wins in a row. However, it’ll be really difficult for the Buckeyes to beat Michigan — the rivalry is in a good place and Michigan now knows what it takes to beat the Buckeyes.