2013-14 Michigan Wolverines Predictions and College Football Betting Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 7/14/2013
Brady Hoke has recruited far beyond anyone’s expectation after getting hired. He was the third choice for the Michigan head coaching job when he was hired — at best — yet he is recruiting like a superstar. His 2013 class was outstanding, and his 2014 class is currently tops in the country. Now all Hoke needs to do is start getting on-field results to match the recruiting momentum. He hasn’t been a disaster on the field by any means — he did win the Sugar Bowl in his first year — but there is still a long way to go. Can this year be the big step forward the program needs?
To people who don’t follow the team closely, the biggest story will be the loss of QB Denard Robinson to the NFL. While that is unquestionably an issue, the truth is that the team is likely better off without him. Make no mistake — Devin Gardner is not as athletically gifted or explosively dynamic as Robinson. No one is. Gardner is plenty talented, though, and a far better fit for the Michigan offense than Robinson ever was. Offensive coordinator Al Borges never really figured out how to maximize Robinson’s talent. When Gardner was forced to start last year, though, the offense looked far more natural and effective.
Gardner spent the first half of the season last year as a receiver. Now that he has had a whole offseason working as the starting QB, the offense should be even better. Surrounded by a strong offensive line, including the shocking return of likely Top-5 pick Taylor Lewan at left tackle, this team is going to score some points.
The defense has to overcome some major personnel issues. Seniors Jordan Kovacs and Craig Roh will be missed, and linebacker Jake Ryan tore an ACL and will be out at least until October. There is still a lot of talent, but new guys will have to step up to provide leadership and strong play. DE Frank Clark is one guy who is drawing a lot of buzz as a breakout star. The secondary also needs to be much better than it has been, which means that young talent needs to step up and perform well right away.
Michigan Schedule Analysis
The Wolverines essentially play a six-game schedule. Home games against Central Michigan, Akron, Minnesota and Indiana, and road trips to UConn and Iowa aren’t likely to be a huge challenge if this Michigan team is as good as they should be. That means that the team is all but certain to be bowl eligible. Of course, that isn’t what Michigan is playing for. Their season will be defined by the other six games on the schedule.
The first test is a home game against Notre Dame under the lights in the second week of the season. It’s the last home game against the Irish in the foreseeable future, so emotions will be high. A trip to Penn State is arguably the easiest game on this list, but if we have learned anything it’s that you can’t underestimate this regime — at least until the scholarship limitations really catch up to them. Michigan State has been better than they will be this year, but a road game in East Lansing is always a serious test for the Wolverines. Following that are a home game against Nebraska and a road trip to Northwestern that could be really tough. Then they close out at home against Ohio State in a game that is always huge and is only bigger now as the Hoke-Meyer rivalry crystallizes. There isn’t a single game amongst that group that the team can’t win if they play their best. It would be a miracle if they won them all, though. It’s just a matter of how many they can pull off — four seems like a good target to start.
2013-14 Michigan Betting Odds and Trends
Michigan is +4000 to win the National Championship — the same price as Notre Dame and well behind the elite contenders. They are the second choice to win the Big Ten at +500, though that falls well behind Ohio State, which is at -110. They are favored at +225 to win the Legends Division. In his first year as a full-time starter, QB Devin Gardner is at +5000 to win the Heisman — a solid value price. The Wolverines are very strong -260 favorites to beat Central Michigan at home in their season opener. (All odds are from BetOnline) Michigan punished faithful bettors last year with a 5-7 ATS record. They were 6-6 against the total.
2013-14 Michigan Wolverines Predictions and College Football Picks
I’m optimistic about this team this year. Of course, those who know my sporting beliefs know that that is about as shocking as announcing that the Pope is Catholic. This year, though, that optimism is fair. Notre Dame and Ohio State both have to travel to Ann Arbor. This team is going to win 10 games — at least this year — and is going to play in the Big Ten Championship Game. You heard it here first.
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