Michigan Wolverines Odds to win the College Football National Championship with Expert Betting Predictions
It's about that time for Jim Harbaugh. His act isn't wearing thin in Ann Arbor, but it is in other places. After all of the bravado, intensity and craziness, he still hasn't beaten Michigan State or Ohio State, hasn't won the Big Ten, and hasn't really delivered on the promise he brought to Michigan. It's time. He has by far the best team he has had since arriving and a schedule that can work for him. Win now and he can do or say whatever he wants for a long time and no one can question it. But struggle and underperform again and his seat could start to get a little hot - or at least he won't get the attention nationally that he has enjoyed up to this point.
2017 in a Nutshell
As a Michigan fan I can tell you that last year was as frustrating as any in a long time. The defense was remarkable, but the offense was just incredibly inept, and that led to a far-less-productive season than anyone would have hoped for. Things started out very well as they thrashed Florida in the opener, then they won their next three in lopsided fashion against outmatched opponents. Just when people started to believe, though, things went awry. They lost at home to Michigan State in very frustrating fashion. Then they needed overtime to get past a bad Indiana team. Then they were totally humiliated at Penn State. They won three meaningless games, but it didn't matter - they were outgunned at Wisconsin and at home against Ohio State. Then they lost a truly awful game against South Carolina in the Outback Bowl. It was a season that even the most diehard fan had given up on months before it was over.
Key Additions and Departures
The offense was a disaster, and Harbaugh dramatically overhauled the coaching on that side of the ball to stop the bleeding. Tim Drevno, the longtime offensive coordinator with offensive line duties, was gone. The offensive game calling was stale and the line was consistently lousy, so the move made sense. Greg Frey is out on the line as well, and Ed Warinner is in to overhaul the approach to coaching the position. Former Florida head coach Jim McElwain is in as wide receiver coach. And Sherrone Moore is in to coach tight ends. Beyond the significant personnel changes, there is a tangible change in approach. The team realizes that the offense is a problem and they are working hard to fix it. It remains to be seen if it works.
On the field the biggest change is at quarterback. Last year's starter, Wilton Speight, is at UCLA now. Shea Patterson, the former five-star who left Ole Miss after the Hugh Freeze debacle and successfully fought for immediate eligibility, is in Ann Arbor and seems to be the presumptive starter. Expectations are very high, and he is the most talented QB to be in town since at least Chad Henne. But talent is only part of the equation. Patterson is behind an offensive line that lost their best player in center Mason Cole. But the depth is solid if unproven, and the philosophy has been dramatically simplified, so there is reason to be optimistic up front - or at least not as certain of disappointment as in recent years. Things are very stable elsewhere on offense, and we should see steps forward at running back and receiver if the new coaching philosophy takes hold.
On defense the team lost their best player in tackle Mo Hurst, but the line could and should be even better than it was - and it was already as good as any out there. Mike McCray is a loss at linebacker, but the talent is deep at the position and he won't likely be missed. And the secondary, which was as good as any last year, is intact this season. The defense under coordinator Don Brown was the only thing that made this team respectable last year, and it should be even better this year.
Biggest Area of Concern
The team has made a whole lot of changes in coaching and personnel on offense. They are unquestionably better on paper - a lot better. But the margin for error is small, and the stakes are extremely high. A lot of people need to learn to work together in a hurry, and Patterson needs to hit the ground running. The upside is massive, but the downside isn't insignificant, either.
Michigan Wolverines Schedule Analysis
The Wolverines jump right into the deep end with the return of their rivalry with Notre Dame after a few years of absence to open the season. Then they have five games in a row they should win, with a trip to Northwestern being the biggest potential test. Should they be 6-0 at that point, and that is certainly plausible, they will have yet to prove anything. Then comes four brutal weeks - Wisconsin at home, at Michigan State, and then after a bye Penn State at home. Earlier Harbaugh teams would have had no chance against that kind of schedule, so if this year is truly different they will need to win at least two of those. Then they get breathers against Penn State and Rutgers before a trip to Columbus to face Ohio State in a game which, if things work out as fans and the team hope, will determine the Big Ten East winner. Of course, the Wolverine fans have hoped that for this game every year since the program was established, and it has been a long time since it was actually the case.
2018-19 Michigan Wolverines Betting Odds and Trends
Michigan is tied with Washington as the fifth choice to win the national title at +2000, behind only Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Georgia. They are the third choice to win the Big Ten at +550, behind Ohio State and Wisconsin. And they are tied with Penn State as the second choice to win the Big Ten East at +350 behind Ohio State. Patterson is the co-fifth choice to win the Heisman at +1600. The season win total is set at nine, with the "over" solidly favored at -130.
2018-19 Michigan Wolverines Predictions and College Football Picks
I could easily be accused of being blinded by loyalty, but I think there is major value in the over on the season total. Despite their history of faltering when it matters, this is the best team Michigan has fielded in a long while. The defense should be stellar, and the offense should be much better than it has been. Falling short of double-digit wins would be a major disappointment. And since I believe it I'll just say it - Michigan is going to win the Big Ten East - as a starting point.
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