The Michigan Wolverines come in at No. 8 in the 2016 CFN college football rankings. Here are five things that matter heading into Wolverines’ 2016 season.
Now it’s time to actually play football
Jim Harbaugh has been the story of the 2016 offseason as college football’s biggest personality and star, but it has to translate into wins. If Michigan pulls off a big season, then Harbaugh will be hailed as an eccentric genius. If it’s a disappointing year, he might be seen as a distraction, especially with the terrific team he has returning.
He’s got to win the big games against Michigan State and Ohio State, and while he’ll get one more free pass of a season – to some extent – it has to be a season that looks like a stepping-stone to a national title-caliber 2017. Las Vegas already thinks the program is there, and the pressure will be on to produce. If Harbaugh doesn’t come through, the offseason could be very, very different.
The quarterback situation will be fine
Whether you’re trying to find new business, or find someone to hook up with at bar time, sales is a contact sport – the more contacts you make, the better your chance at success. That goes for Michigan quarterbacks. The more there are, the better the shot that one of them is going to be good.
The rest of the pieces are in place for the Wolverines to be great, so the quarterback has to merely be solid. They’ve got the options, especially in Houston transfer John O’Korn and rising junior Wilton Speight. At the very least, one of them can be as good as Jake Rudock. Fortunately for the new starter …
The receiving corps might be the best in the Big Ten
The ground attack is sound and the line is good, but the big difference this season should be a passing game that might go from good to dominant. Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh will be earning NFL paychecks in the near future, and Jake Butt probably would’ve been the first tight end off the board if he left early for the big leagues this year. They’ll all stretch the field.
Jabrill Peppers might be the best player in college football
It doesn’t matter if he plays safety, outside linebacker, running back or receiver, the freakishly talented superstar will be used wherever he can make the most plays. He’s the signature guy on a good defense that needs linebackers – which is why he’ll spend time on the outside – working behind a killer of a line. The D that finished fourth in the nation last season should be just as good, if not better.
What’s going to happen?
9-3 seems a little off considering the talent returning, but figure a loss at Michigan State and a loss at Ohio State – again, losing to the two big boys – as killers on the road. Throw in a road defeat at Iowa, and the season won’t go quite according to plan.
But at the very least, the Fighting Khakis should get off to a hot start with the first five games in Ann Arbor, and with just one road game – at Rutgers – until going to East Lansing. Michigan leaves the state just once until November 12th.