It was looking like the Michigan Wolverines had a legitimate shot at finally breaking through over the Ohio State Buckeyes in 2018. Then the final game of the regular season happened. Michigan entered the road tilt with the Buckeyes full of confidence, but they walked off the field on the wrong side of a 23-point drubbing.
Prior to that game, the Wolverines were resembling one of the top programs in the nation. They had ripped off a 10-game winning streak, with the only other regular season blemish coming in a season-opening road loss to Notre Dame.
Along the way, nine of the team’s 10 wins were of the double-digit variety. Over one impressive three-week stretch, they defeated a trio of Top 25 teams by 14 points or more. The only other squad to put a scare into the team during the regular season was Northwestern, but Michigan managed to escape that road trip with a 20-17 win.
The offense was balanced with averages of 200+ yards through the air and on the ground per game. The club would close out the year ranked 21st in the nation in points for per game. The story was even better on defense, as the program ranked 12th for fewest points allowed per contest.
Bringing all of those positives to the table made being taken out to the woodshed at the hands of Ohio State all the more puzzling. A defeat wasn’t too stunning, as taking down the Buckeyes in Columbus is a tall task, but a blowout was a bit surprising. The stinging loss had a hangover effect as well.
As we head into the new season, the pressure is mounting on head coach Jim Harbaugh. While there’s no doubting that he’s one of the top sideline patrollers in the nation, he’s having a real tough time getting over the hump in the Big Ten.
NCAAF betting sites aren’t sold that this is going to be the year it happens. Michigan is currently the second choice behind favored Ohio State to take down the crown. In the hunt for a national title, five teams are dubbed as having a better chance than the Wolverines.
Will Michigan once again be on the outside looking in when this year’s College Football Playoff matchups are announced? Can the team finally snap the Buckeyes six-game winning streak over them?
Let’s take a look and find out. First up, let’s take a closer look at the season that was in Ann Arbor.
Michigan Wolverines 2018 Season Recap
Record: 10-3 | Standings: 2-B10 East | Playoffs: Lost Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl
The Wolverines opened up the 2018 campaign with a road tilt versus Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish held a 21-10 lead at the half, and they would go on to win 24-17 after a garbage-time rushing touchdown from Michigan’s Karan Higdon.
It was an early-season wake-up call for the program, and they responded right away. The Wolverines would play their next three games at home, winning all of them by at least 25 points. The next contest would be the test at Northwestern, but Michigan answered the bell with a three-point win.
The club was right back to its dominant ways the following week with a 21-point home win over Maryland. What followed was the most impressive stretch of the year for the team. A 25-point home win over Wisconsin was followed by a 14-point road win over Michigan State.
For an encore, the Wolverines spanked visiting Penn State to the tune of 42-7. All three of those programs were nationally ranked at the kickoff of the respective games. The competition lessened over the next two weeks as Michigan picked up victories over Rutgers and Indiana.
The Hoosiers managed to keep it interesting and hold the margin of victory to 31-20 for their road defeat. At 10-1 overall and a perfect 8-0 in Big Ten play, that set the stage for an epic showdown with Ohio State to decide the Big Ten East in the regular season finale.
At the half, the game was close with the host Buckeyes holding a 24-19 lead after an exciting second quarter. Ohio State would explode for 17 points in the third quarter to take a commanding lead. The clubs traded points in the final quarter, but the end result was a 62-39 laugher for the Buckeyes.
Michigan’s dreams of playing for a Big Ten crown and being invited to the CFP were dashed. They had to settle for a bowl game with Florida, and it really didn’t look like they were into it after the demoralizing loss to their rivals.
Once again, the game was close at the half with Florida up 13-10, but it was all Gators from that point. They put 14 points on the board in the third quarter and never looked back, rolling to a 41-15 win.
While there’s no denying that Michigan was a Top 10 program in the nation for 2018, the season is still being viewed through the lens of disappointment.
Michigan Wolverines Offseason
Shortly after the New Year, Michigan hired Josh Gattis to serve as offensive coordinator. The program did not have anyone formally in that role in 2018. Gattis served as co-offensive coordinator with Alabama last year. Don Brown returns to lead the defense.
The Wolverines would see five players selected in the NFL Draft. Defensive standouts Devin Bush and Rashan Gary were off the board in round one. Chase Winovich, a team leader on defense, would go in the third round.
Harbaugh has had little trouble attracting talent during his time in Ann Arbor, and the same held true this year. The program is viewed as having landed a Top 10 recruiting class with the haul including a pair of five-star prospects in S Daxton Hill and DT Chris Hinton. Other potential future stars for the Wolverines include RB Zach Charbonnet.
Shea Patterson will return behind center, and he’ll have the benefit of lining up behind four returning starters on the offensive line. Christian Turner is penciled in atop the RB depth chart, while talented wideouts including Tarik Black and Donovan Peoples-Jones will also be back.
While the team has lost a lot of talent on defense, the cupboards aren’t bare. Names to watch include DL Kwity Paye, LB Josh Ross, and CB Lavert Hill.
Michigan Wolverines 2019 Schedule
|1||Sat. Aug.31||vs. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders||7:30 PM||BTN|
|2||Sat. Sept.7||vs. Army Black Knights||12:00 PM||FOX|
|4||Sat. Sept.21||at Wisconsin Badgers||12:00 PM||FOX|
|5||Sat. Sept.28||vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights||TBD||TBD|
|6||Sat. Oct.5||vs. Iowa Hawkeyes||12:00 PM||TBD|
|7||Sat. Oct.12||at Illinois Fighting Illini||TBD||TBD|
|8||Sat. Oct.19||at Penn State Nittany Lions||TBD||TBD|
|9||Sat. Oct.26||vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish||TBD||TBD|
|10||Sat. Nov.2||at Maryland Terrapins||12:00 PM||TBD|
|12||Sat. Nov.16||vs. Michigan State Spartans||TBD||TBD|
|13||Sat. Nov.23||at Indiana Hoosiers||TBD||TBD|
|14||Sat. Nov.30||vs. Ohio State Buckeyes||12:00 PM||FOX|
The season opener isn’t as daunting this time around, as Middle Tennessee comes to town. That will be followed by a tough game with Army prior to an early week off. Big Ten play kicks off after that, with a game versus Notre Dame also tucked in late October.
Following a bye week in early November, Michigan will close out the regular season with a home game versus Michigan State, a road tilt with Indiana, and the home finale with Ohio State. It’s far from an easy road to get there, but getting over on the Buckeyes is the biggest question mark heading into the year.
Michigan Wolverines 2019 Outlook
The non-conference schedule is interesting, as Michigan will face both Army and Notre Dame among the three games. The Wolverines will be home for all three of their out of conference games this season.
The Big Ten schedule is always interesting. However, if we use the conference odds as a guide, Michigan could make some noise. They’re the second favorite to win the whole thing, and well ahead of third and fourth place Penn State and Michigan State.
Potential trouble spots include road games with Wisconsin and Penn State. Nebraska is expected to be much-improved this year, but they’ll be heading to Ann Arbor. Indiana and Northwestern both posed challenges last year, but Michigan will also be welcoming both of them to town.
The Wolverines get Ohio State at home this year as well. The program is going through some transitions with a new head coach and a new signal-caller. If Michigan can’t break through this year, then when will they?
Michigan Wolverines 2019 Win Total Odds and Pick
Oddsmakers have tempered enthusiasm for Michigan in 2019, and we would imagine the two big losses to close out last year played a role in that.
Total Regular Season Wins:
Betting odds provided by: MyBookie.ag
Michigan is talented enough to win the Big Ten and earn a spot in the CFP. While the schedule is challenging, the team will be expected to head into the game with the Buckeyes with no more than a single blemish.
We’ll see whether or not they can vanquish Ohio State this time around, but we also expect them to have 10 wins before that game kicks off, which places us on the Over.