The Michigan Wolverines football team is wrapping up fall camp this week, and with that comes a look forward at the regular season. With there still being an open question in the QB1 debate and the defensive depth chart, it’s difficult to make any concrete assumptions about how the Wolverines will follow up their Big Ten title.
Given all that we know, here’s a best-guess prediction of the 2022 regular season.
September 3 vs. Colorado State
Despite their 3-9 record last season, Michigan fans shouldn’t completely overlook Colorado State. The Rams made a respectable hire in Jay Norvell and while there’s very little chance of an upset, there’s potential for this game to be closer than the Wolverines would like. The uncertainty hinges on two factors — the question marks on defense, and the possibility of the Cade-J.J. battle bleeding into the season.
Result: Michigan 28, Colorado State 17
September 10 vs. Hawai’i
In contrast to its Mountain West compatriots in Fort Collins, Hawai’i is in a tumultuous spot entering 2022. While they finished as a bowl team last season, the Rainbow Warriors’ former head coach Todd Graham was — in polite terms — not a great guy. His behavior caused such an implosion of the team, it led to an actual state senate hearing.
New head coach Timmy Chang is a newcomer to the ranks and will have had only one week to work around the aforementioned mass exodus of talent. Expect an easy day for the Wolverines in this one.
Result: Michigan 31, Hawai’i 10
September 17 vs. UConn
Since 2016, the Huskies have won less games in five seasons (10) than Michigan won last year alone (12).
I could end this blurb right there but for the sake of argument, they did hire Jim Mora. Maybe that’ll improve their fortunes?
Result: Michigan 42, UConn 0
September 24 vs. Maryland
In Scott Bell’s expert roundtable, Maryland was deemed the Wolverines’ trap game by a plurality of those who submitted predictions. I must admit, I’m a little skeptical.
Is it possible the Terrapins could give a scare? Certainly. If Michigan’s defense doesn’t utilize the OOC slate to cement the starting lineup, or if Jim Harbaugh still hasn’t decided on a starting quarterback, maybe concern over this game is warranted. But consider Maryland’s performance last year — against their four ranked opponents, the Terrapins lost by less than 35 points just once.
It almost certainly will be closer this year, but I think it’ll still be a comfortable win.
Result: Michigan 35, Maryland 24
October 1 at Iowa
I feel hard-pressed to predict this game with any amount of confidence, at least until the kickoff time is officially announced. With the announcement yesterday that this game would be Iowa’s “black and gold” game, it’s clear the emotions will be high regardless of it being a day or night game.
The factor that leans this game more heavily in Michigan’s favor is the sheer numbers of departures the Hawkeyes had this offseason. With so many top players to replace, Iowa is unlikely to make the Wolverines a victim of the Kinnick curse.
Result: Michigan 24, Iowa 17
October 8 at Indiana
I can’t make heads or tails of the Hoosiers — it looked like head coach Tom Allen had turned the tide and made them a respectable program, but then last year they reverted hard back to an all too familiar 2-10 record.
Did the juice just run out? Was it an outlier year? Its hard to say. Regardless, Michigan has little to worry about in its road trip to Bloomington.
Result: Michigan 28, Indiana 6
October 15 vs. Penn State
From 2015-19, a remarkably consistent trend surfaced: when the Wolverines traveled to Happy Valley, Penn State was a lock to win comfortably. When the Nittany Lions traveled to Ann Arbor, Michigan was a lock to win comfortably.
The past two seasons have seen that pattern ripped to shreds. Penn State took care of business in 2020, while Michigan eked a win in Beaver Stadium last season.
It’ll be a close one, but ultimately I think the Wolverines defend their home field.
Result: Michigan 24, Penn State 21
October 29 vs. Michigan State
As much as Michigan fans don’t want to admit it, Mel Tucker has officially reached the same thorn-in-side status Mark Dantonio carried in the early 2010s.
The Spartans’ season hinges on the result of Paul Bunyan, as much as the Wolverines’ hinges on the result of The Game. To overlook that is to court disaster. I give the win to Michigan here, but I can very easily see a different result playing out if only one or two things go wrong.
Result: Michigan 17, Michigan State 14
November 5 at Rutgers
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but if there’s a trap game on the Wolverines’ schedule, it’s Rutgers. You read that correctly. Rutgers.
Greg Schiano has seemingly found a game plan that gives Michigan fits in a way it doesn’t against the other teams on their schedule. In 2020 it was the infamous triple overtime, last season it was coming just shy of a fourth quarter comeback. I don’t think this is the year the Scarlet Knights get over the hump, but never say never.
Result: Michigan 23, Rutgers 13
November 12 vs. Nebraska
Last week, Scott Frost bragged about the amount of puking his offensive line was doing in fall camp. Based on that alone, I’m very confident in the Wolverines’ chances.
In all seriousness, the Huskers are likely to take a significant step forward from last season’s dreadful 3-9 record. For the sake of Frost’s job, they have to. But just because they’ll win the games they’re supposed to win doesn’t mean they’ll pose any serious threat to Michigan’s season.
Result: Michigan 31, Nebraska 7
November 19 vs. Illinois
Similar to the situation at Rutgers, Illinois isn’t the punching bag it was for much of the past decade. Say what you will about Penn State last year, but any team that drags a game out for nine overtimes and wins has got somewhat of a fight in them.
The Wolverines won’t have too much to worry about in the Fighting Illini, but they should beware looking ahead a week all the same.
Result: Michigan 38, Illinois 24
November 26 at Ohio State
I have gone back and forth on my prediction on this one for a while.
I have no doubts that last year wasn’t a fluke and this program is in a different mindset now than when it was in 2018 and 2019. However, Michigan hasn’t won a game in Columbus since 2000. Sooner or later that streak has to break, but unfortunately, I don’t think it’ll be this year.
Result: Ohio State 34, Michigan 31
As a disclaimer, take the specific scores I give with a grain of salt. Those more represent the confidence level I have in my prediction than me trying to be the Nostradamus of Michigan football.
In that vein, there’s just too much we don’t know about the Wolverines right now to make a season long prediction with any level of confidence. Can they go 12-0, win the Big Ten title and make the College Football Playoff again? Maybe. Could they have a step-back year and win maybe as few as eight games in the regular season? Unlikely, but not entirely impossible.
Right now though, I lean towards the more optimistic of the two camps and posit a 11-1 final regular season record. It looks to be a strong year for the Wolverines, provided they don’t spend too much time figuring out their identity.