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Could This Be a Season to Remember for The Wolverines?

With fall camps in full swing, the 2023 season grows ever closer. The University of Michigan football players are already taking on each day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind, and they need to. With all the outside noise surrounding Michigan Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, Michigan players need to show the ability to tune it out and remain focused on the season goal.

Many believe this is the best Michigan team Harbaugh has put together so far. As Michigan enters this season, they are one of the most-hyped teams in the country, ranked 2 in both the AP and Coaches preseason polls. The expectations are not only to win the Big 10 but to be there at the end playing for a national championship.

The Michigan season can be broken down into three tiers in terms of difficulty. This will help to predict how the Wolverine may finish at the end of the season.

The first, Tier One: It can’t happen again. Michigan fans all remember September 1, 2007, upset. These games will be the ones that if Michigan were to walk off the field without a win, Jim Harbaugh and staff should be fired.

The second, Tier Two: Trouble with the snap. If Michigan lost to one of these teams, you would be shutting off the tv, heading to bed, and in the morning, you might understand what happened.

Lastly, Tier Three: too close to call. These three teams pose the most threat to Michigan winning its third-straight Big 10 championship and trip to the CFP.


Wolverines' Tier One Games: It Can’t Happen Again

The teams that make up this group are East Carolina, UNLV, Bowling Green, Rutgers, and Indiana. Michigan will play all five at home and will also be high double-digit favorites in all five meetings. Not one of the teams comes in ranked higher than 75 according to the CBS rankings. The Scarlet Knights are the closest at 76. With Harbaugh no longer serving a 4-game suspension to start the season, any question of the unthinkable happening in his absence is now gone. By halftime in all five contests, Michigan staff should already be looking to pull the starters from the game. Michigan rolls in all five games.

Prediction: Michigan wins all 5 and it's not even close.


Wolverines' Tier Two Games: Trouble with the Snap

This tier is made up of three teams: Nebraska, Minnesota, and Purdue. These three teams come in ranked between 40 to 55 from the CBS Sports rankings. The lowest of these teams is Minnesota at 42. Unlike tier one, just one of the games is played in Ann Arbor.

For Michigan, both road games happen in consecutive weeks, first in Nebraska, then in Minnesota. Matt Rhule and P.J. Fleck are two well-respected head coaches with a track record of winning. Ryan Walters (37) is a first-time head coach and the fourth-youngest coach in the Power 5; he is already making a name for himself as one of the best coaches under 40.

Prediction: Michigan wins all 3, but one will be closer than people think. The Minnesota game goes down to the last minute.


Wolverines' Tier Three Games: Too Close to Call

The three teams that make up this tier are Michigan State, Penn State, and Ohio State. For Michigan, these three games will decide their season. If Michigan can win all three, the Big 10 Championship awaits, and hopefully, a trip to the last four-team College Football Playoff. These three games deserve a game-by-game breakdown.

Michigan at Michigan State (October 21 @ 7:30 on NBC)

MSU will be the first big test for Michigan. This will be the first time Michigan and MSU meet at night in East Lansing. This game is known as the “backyard brawl,” and any Michigan or Spartan fan will tell you that in this rivalry you can take each team's records and just throw them out the window. Even with the transfer of WR Keon Coleman and QB Payton Thorne, head coach Mel Tucker still believes this could be the most talented team he’s had. Tucker, who spoke at the Big 10 media days, said, “We have competition at every single position and no doubt the most talent we’ve had top to bottom on our roster.”

The atmosphere that will await Michigan will be hostile, to say the least. Popular radio host on 97.1 The Ticket, Mike Valenti, an MSU alum, said “I’m being real with you because people are nuts and I don’t condone what all people do. But I’m just telling you friendly advice if you’re a Michigan fan, don’t be there.”

Prediction: Michigan takes MSU to the woodshed: Michigan 45/MSU 17.

Player of the game: Michigan WR Tyler Morris should have his first breakout rivalry game.

Michigan at Penn State (November 11 @ 12:00 on Fox)

Penn State will be Michigan’s second big test of the year in Happy Valley. They are bringing back a heap of talent for the 2023 season. The two sophomore running backs, Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen, will not only compete for best in the Big 10, but they should be in the running for best in the country.

Drew Allar, standing 6 foot 5 and 245lbs, is Penn States' new starting QB. He is already being viewed as a high 2025 pick in the NFL draft. Allar has all the intangibles to be great. If he can live up to the hype, Penn States' offense will roll this year.

Penn State Defensive Coordinator Manny Diaz has 55% of his defense returning from last year's team. PSU should rank high on the list for top defense again in the Big 10. The biggest question for Diaz is who is going to step up and replace PJ Mustipher, Joey Porter Jr., and Ji’Ayir Brown. The good news for Diaz: he has nine games to figure it out.

Unfortunately for Penn State, the Fox broadcast has set the game time for noon, helping Michigan avoid PSU making this their annual Whiteout game. PSU head coach, James Franklin, will pull his usual questionable calls towards the end of this game, giving Michigan the late edge.

Prediction: No whiteout plus Franklin's late decisions will give Michigan a 35 to 24 win.

Player of the Game: The offensive line; the group, as a whole, will have their best game of the season.

Ohio State at Michigan (November 25 @ 12:00 on Fox)

Now for what two fanbases call “The Game.” A matchup that was seen by over 17 million college football fans last year. OSU gets to head up to Ann Arbor for this year’s war, and you can bet your last dollar it's going to be a battlefield. OSU had the privilege, last year, of watching Michigan “Dot the O” in the middle of their field after embarrassing OSU in Columbus.

If there were ever a year that OSU needed no motivation to be ready, it’s this year. Head coach Ryan Day will be bringing in a new starting QB this year, but whoever wins the job, OSU will have talent surrounding him. Whether McCord or Brown starts, it doesn’t really matter. When you have Harrison Jr, Egbuka, and Fleming to pass to, you are already ahead of the game.

The real question is if Jim Knowles can do what he was brought there to do: shut down Michigan’s run game without being exposed in other areas on the field. If Knowles fails again, the fan's comparison to former Michigan Defensive Coordinator Don Brown will become justified. This game could be the last time Day and Harbaugh go head-to-head.

Prediction: Michigan 48/OSU 31.

Player of the game: Blake Corum's three touchdowns will make up for missing the 2022 game with a Knee injury.

The Trap Game

Finally, the one team I left out: Maryland. Michigan and the Terrapins play the second-to-last week of the year which is, typically, no big deal. Except this year, Michigan is on the road again after just playing Penn State. As Michigan just came off playing PSU on the road and knowing OSU will follow, this has 'trap game' written all over it. It’s going to be next to impossible for Michigan not to be looking ahead. Maryland played Michigan hard in the 2022 season. Is this going to be Taulia Tagoviloa's biggest win as a starting QB? If I were a betting man, I would take the upset here.

Prediction Michigan 24/Maryland 27 on a last-second FG.

Player of the Game: QB Tagovailoa goes for 2 touchdowns with his arm and adds 1 with his feet for the win.

Michigan will finish 11-1 in the 2023 season, go on to win their third-straight Big 10 championship, and head to another College Football Playoff.


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