We are very close to the start of the college football season, which means the anticipation is only growing in size.
Because I have as much access to the Michigan football program as I do the Ohio State football program right now, I thought we’d go ahead and start a week’s worth of anticipatory pieces like this by looking at that team up north.
As you know, I am one of the world’s foremost predictors of things. My record is of no importance because that’s now how predictions are measured. How are they measured, you ask? By height, of course.
Now since I have labeled these predictions as “bold,” that doesn’t mean I am buying into them. It just means that they’re a little stretchy, but still very possible.
Let’s get started.
1. Michigan will lead the Big Ten in scoring.
My overwhelming thought on this is that Michigan led the Big Ten in scoring in 2016 (40.3 ppg) with Wilton Speight and a decent running game. So this prediction almost doesn’t seem so bold. With an improved offensive line and two dynamic running backs, the Wolverines should be able to control the ball. And Shea Patterson’s ability to take advantage of the play-action pass will make a talented group of receivers even more dangerous.
2. Quarterback Shea Patterson will be named First-Team All-Big Ten.
Those around the Ole Miss program like to say that Shea Patterson wasn’t going to be the starter this season for the Rebels. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I do know it’s irrelevant to his situation at Michigan. At one time, John O’Korn was viewed as the answer because he wasn’t Wilton Speight. Then Brandon Peters was viewed as the answer because he wasn’t John O’Korn. Now Shea Patterson is the answer and right now, Michigan fans should be happy to accept a season like Speight had in 2016. If Jim Harbaugh allows the offense to be what it can be, it’s not outrageous to think Patterson could earn First-Team All-B1G honors. (It’s still a bold prediction though.)
3. Running backs Karan Higdon and Chris Evans will combine for 2,000 yards rushing.
With Ty Isaac gone and no longer stealing carries from Karan Higdon or Chris Evans, the two of them should command the vast majority of carries for the Wolverines. I think Higdon should be a lock for 1,200 yards, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to expect 800 yards from Evans. Maybe I’m putting too much on Ed Warinner and his ability to put out a very good offensive line, but I don’t think so.
4. Sophomore receiver Tarik Black will go over 1,000 yards receiving.
I was sold on Tarik Black in game one last year against Florida, and despite a season-ending injury in game three last year, I’m still very much on the bandwagon. Black is your typical big Michigan receiver who can move the chains or get open deep. The way Shea Patterson can keep a play alive should mean more big plays for Black.
5. Michigan will be 7-0 heading into East Lansing.
This is assuming there aren’t a bunch of suspensions for selling their shoes. I expect Michigan’s defense to suffocate Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush in the season opener. They have to travel to Northwestern in week five, and then they host Wisconsin one week before the Michigan State game. The Wolverines should have enough offense to get a squeaker over the Badgers.
6. Khaleke Hudson will be closer to being B1G Defensive Player of the Year than Rashan Gary.
There is no real way to measure this, I don’t think, which means that I’m guaranteed to get this one right. Khaleke Hudson’s numbers last year were better in every single category than Jabrill Peppers in 2016 when Peppers won the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year award. This year people will know to pay attention to Hudson.
7. The Wolverines will beat Penn State by three touchdowns.
Saquon Barkley’s not walking through that door…and Mike McCray’s not going to be asked to defend him. Penn State put it to Michigan 42-13 last year, which means there will be a certain measure of revenge for the Wolverines this season. With the game in the Big House, Michigan’s chances for a sizable win go way up.
8. Michigan will allow 300 yards passing in a game for the first time in Don Brown’s tenure.
The irony would be if the 300-yard passing game comes from Ohio State because they aren’t doing well running the ball, and we all know that whoever runs the ball best in this game wins. So the Buckeyes could have the best passing game against Michigan in years, but the inability to run the ball could ultimately doom them.
9. Sophomore defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon will be named Second-Team All-Big Ten.
I was impressed with Aubrey Solomon last year as a true freshman. This year without Maurice Hurst, somebody needs to step up and anchor the interior of Michigan’s defensive line. Solomon isn’t as explosive or active as Hurst, but few are. He still showed quite a bit last year as a rookie. There is no room on the first team, and not a lot of room on the second team. But these predictions are supposed to be bold, right?
10. Michigan will win a bowl game.
After Shea Patterson declares for the NFL and opts to skip the bowl game and Brandon Peters announces his transfer to Purdue, Jim Harbaugh will call on true freshman quarterback Joe Milton to lead the Wolverines. He will put up over 300 yards of total offense in a 27-24 win over LSU and former Ohio State quarterback Joe Burrow.