2019 Michigan Wolverines Football Predictions and Odds to Win National Championship
Maybe this is the year that Jim Harbaugh finally puts it all together. Or maybe that just isn't ever going to happen in Michigan. The coach is coming off a season that left a bad taste in the mouths of so many. It led to an offseason of change. Pep Hamilton, Harbaugh and others were trying to run the offense by committee last year, and it just didn't work. Despite having plenty of talent, the unit too often lacked an identity when it mattered and was hard to trust in crunch time. Even Harbaugh could see that changes were needed, and he really got dramatic. Josh Gattis, a coach that Harbaugh not only hadn't worked with, but didn't know, has been brought in from Alabama and given the keys to the offense. Gattis was the co-offensive coordinator last year with the Tide and is well regarded. The Michigan offense has been frustratingly old-fashioned under Harbaugh, and if Gattis really is in charge that should change in a big way. With a senior QB, a very experienced offensive line, and talent on both sides of the ball, the window is more open now than it will be for a while. If Harbaugh blows this, then he is going to need a really big mirror to look into to figure out what is going on.
2018 in a Nutshell
As a life-long Michigan fan, I can tell you that last season was as gutting as any in recent memory - and there have been a lot of really frustrating seasons in the last decade or two. Expectations were sky high with the best quarterback they have had in a long time joining them when Shea Patterson transferred and a defense that was loaded and coming off a very strong season. But the team sputtered right out of the gate, not only losing their opener at Notre Dame, but looking clueless and lost through much of the game. They shook that off, though, and won 10 straight - most in very decisive fashion. The defense found itself, the offense had its moments, and Notre Dame was on track to a playoff berth, so things were really looking up. It all led to the annual showdown with Ohio State to finish the season. Win and they were heading to the Big Ten title game - and quite possibly the playoff. But things couldn't have gone worse. The team forgot everything they had done all year and played impossibly poorly against their rivals, losing 62-39 in a score that was somehow still flattering. That crushed the team, and it seemed as if they quit. Many of the players heading to the draft skipped the bowl game, and most of the players who did dress didn't show up, and the team lost horribly to Florida. A season that had so much promise ended so, so badly.
Key Additions and Departures
After losing seemingly half a team in the draft in 2017, they only lost five guys in 2018. But man, were they tough guys to lose. Linebacker Devin Bush, now with the Steelers, was the tasmanian devil who commanded the defense. Rashan Gary, who never realized his massive potential after being the top overall recruit in the country, was still a 12th overall pick. He and Chase Winovich were warriors on the defensive line. David Long was as good as any corner in the country. And Zach Gentry was a former QB who evolved into one of the most reliable offensive weapons at TE. There are holes to fill for sure.
The recruiting class closed strong, led by five-star safety Daxton Hill. He had committed to Michigan early, decommitted to join Alabama, and then was brought back into the Michigan fold late. He's one of a solid handful of freshmen who could see playing time this year, but the team is fortunate to be deep enough that they aren't going to have to rely on any youngsters to step in right away unless they are ready.
Biggest Area of Concern
Aside from a lack of proven depth at running back and an open battle at right tackle, the offense is experienced and loaded. And under Gattis, they should be moving to a more creative offense that should suit the personnel very well - better than what they were doing did in many cases. But any time you make a fundamental change in how you are doing things, there is reason to be concerned - especially when the guy leading the change isn't a proven guy who has a track record of working with the head coach. The upside for this offense is massive, but the risk for challenges is high, too - and the team just can't afford to struggle here because the defense, while still strong and extremely well coached, won't be quite as dominant as it was between the Ohio State game and the Notre Dame contest.
Michigan Wolverines Schedule Analysis
The good news for a new offensive system is that three of the first four games are basically exhibition contests - Middle Tennessee, Army and Rutgers shouldn't cause too much concern at all. The third game is a trip to Wisconsin. That's always a challenge, but the Badgers got crushed by Michigan last year, and the Wolverines should be solidly favored again this year. They host an Iowa team that is always hard to judge in advance, then travel to Illinois and Penn State - two games that have been harder in the past than they are likely to be now. They then host Notre Dame in a key game. Revenge will be on the menu, but so will proving that this team can measure up against playoff-caliber squads. Maryland, Michigan State and Indiana are lesser challenges, but the team will still have to keep the eye on the ball. And then comes that game against Ohio State. If this team plays to their potential, or close to it, there is no reason that they can't be unbeaten heading into the Big House for that showdown. And the Buckeyes could be as well. As is so often the case, there is a decent chance that it is the game that will define the entire Big Ten race.
2019-20 Michigan Wolverines Betting Odds and Trends
At +1400 at BetOnline, Michigan is the sixth choice to win the national title. They find themselves behind co-favorites Clemson and Alabama, along with Georgia, Ohio State and Oklahoma. Shea Patterson is among the longer shots listed to win the Heisman at +2800.
2019-20 Michigan Wolverines Predictions and College Football Picks
The Wolverines are one of the tougher teams to judge out there. If they play their best, then they are absolutely a playoff team - and potentially a very tough one. But given all the changes, and the continued struggles Harbaugh has had in putting it all together, the floor feels pretty low as well. I can see them running the table until the playoff. It's not that hard to do so, even, given that Ohio State has gone through even more changes, Notre Dame isn't quite as good as last year, and the rest of the schedule feels manageable. But you can also see how this could be a nine-win team that really throws things into turmoil in Ann Arbor. I tend to be more optimistic, which means that I see some value in the +1400 price - at least in relative terms. But I also bleed maize and blue, so my opinion needs to be taken with a boulder-sized grain of salt.
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