3. Who the fuck is your quarterback?
Jim the supposed “QB Whisperer” Harbaugh really has his work cut out for him this year. Michigan QBs are less proven than Joel Embiid (who, amazingly, still has not played an NBA game) and perhaps will be led by a Houston transfer that was upended by the completely unable to pass Greg Ward.
The aforementioned O’Korn, the “favorite” to win the starting job, flashed signs of high-level ability in his freshman season with the Cougars, winning Rookie of the Year honors in the American Athletic Conference. However, just 5 games into his sophomore season, nagging injuries and a Mark Sanchez impersonation of unending turnovers lost O’Korn his position, prompting his transfer.
The other candidates are even more of a question mark. Wilton Speight, an unheralded recruit from the Hoke era, is a mountainous figure at over 6’6″, but has horrific feet and questionable arm strength. Shane Morris, a former 5-star recruit aptly nicknamed “The Rocket,” has panned out to the extent that he is now a wide receiver.
Yes, Harbaugh made Iowa castoff Jake Rudock an all-conference caliber player by the end of 2015, but this season certainly has the optics of a banner year… for Michigan’s punter.
2. Your schedule is ridiculously easy, and also impossible.
I actually laughed at the absurd non-conference slate Michigan has scheduled for 2016, highlighted by winless Central Florida (sorry, Dan) and Hawaii. Fun fact for Warriors fans (not the NBA runner ups): your school has subjected its “student-athletes” to the most idiotic and unrealistic travel schedule of all time: six days before heading to Ann Arbor, Hawaii will play Cal on the road… in Australia.
Needless to say, I’m going to guess Jimmy “I’d go for 3 if I could” Harbaugh could hang 100 on the expectedly exhausted Warriors, but that remains to be seen. Anyway, my point here is simple: Michigan can’t lose. This out-of-conference slate is so bad (the reality is that the Big 10 is really just MSU, OSU, Iowa (sort of) and Michigan at this point) that a single slip will almost undoubtedly vanquish the Wolverines to another Citrus Bowl consolation prize.
The “impossible” part is the road slate, in which the Wolverines face all 3 of the strongest teams on their schedule (OSU, MSU, Iowa) on the road. Complete a sweep and the Wolverines deserve a playoff berth, but Trump has a better shot of being our next President.
1. You’re Michigan and your coach is Jim Harbaugh
Michigan fans love to puff out their collectives chests and boast about their “all-time win record,” “43 conference titles,” and “11 national titles.” Blah blah blah. Ok, well let’s talk about shit that’s happened since any of us have actually been on this planet. The mighty Blue have not defeated MSU and Ohio State in the same season in over a decade, sporting a pathetic 2-14 overall record against their main “rivals” since the beginning of the historic Rich Rod era in 2008.
Michigan, for all those banners that hang somewhere in Ann Arbor, has not won a Big Ten championship since most of us were in elementary school, and has just one partial national championship in the last half century. In fact, the school claiming the “highest winning percentage in college football” barely sneaks into the top 25 overall in the last quarter century.
Their coach, though undeniably an improvement over the clown procession shuttling through Ann Arbor since Lloyd Carr’s retirement, has never won a conference title in Division I football, even with Andrew Luck. Harbaugh, in his first season, improved Michigan to a respectable 10-3, but lost to rival MSU on the worst play in college football history, and was thrashed by Urban Meyer & Co. at home by more points than any Michigan team since the Cold War.
Reasons for hope:
Michigan’s defense is fucking unbelievable. With three likely first-round picks already on the defensive side of the ball alone (Wormley, Peppers, Lewis), the Wolverines add the nation’s #1 overall player in Rashan Gary to a unit already cemented in the upper echelon of the game.
The secondary, which for a time led the nation in pass efficiency rating last season, returns All-American Jourdan Lewis, with do-everything junior Jabril Peppers moving between safety and outside linebacker.
Michigan also has perhaps the best pass-catching trio in the nation in wide receivers Amarah Darboh, Jehu Chesson, and projected NFL Draft 1st round pick TE Jake Butt. If anybody with some semblance of ability can get them the ball, look out for the Wolverines offense.
In typical Michigan fashion, the Wolverines will start fast, reeling off seven straight wins without much resistance from the fighting Dan Regesters and the worst Wisconsin team in recent memory (Editor’s note: just because we no longer have Joel Stave and his glorious bongos doesn’t mean we aren’t going to put up a fight), only to crush maize and blue hearts late in the season.
Michigan will not survive its three-game road gauntlet. Though defeating a weak MSU team in East Lansing will grant some relief to Michigan fans, the Wolverines will lose to Ohio State in Columbus, with the Iowa game a true coin flip.
A successful season to be sure, but the horrendous scheduling and late losses keep the Wolverines, and their maniacal coach, out of the final 4 again. The fans will bitch incessantly about the “SEC bias,” but a team playing 3 meaningful games all season cannot get in over teams (Bama especially) that are surviving weekly showdowns.
12-1. Big Ten Champions, narrowly miss the playoff..
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