2020 Football Preview – Big Ten – Wolverines
Looking for 2020 Michigan Wolverines predictions? The Wolverines – just when they seem to inch closer to their goal of being on level pegging with hated conference rival Ohio State – they drift further away. A program that once was neck and neck with the Buckeyes, now has to satisfy itself with being in the next tier of merely good in the Big Ten.
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2020-21 College Football Preview – Michigan Wolverines
Head Coach: Jim Harbaugh
2019 Record: 9-4
Michigan Wolverines Odds to win the 2020 FBS Championship: +3000
Michigan Wolverines Win Total Odds: 9
Michigan Wolverines Big Ten Odds: 6/1
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Cocksure head coach Jim Harbaugh clearly isn’t happy with this, but it’s going to be back to the grindstone in 2020 if the Maize and Blue intend to make headway.
2020 Michigan Wolverines Preview
Michigan is still a marquee program in the American Midwest, but UM must stock the cupboards quickly if it hopes to roll with Ohio State, Penn State and the like in 2020.
Harbaugh has always talked a big game, and he’s certainly recruited talent to Ann Arbor; interior offensive lineman Cesar Ruiz was a first-round pick in the NFL Draft, and LB Josh Uche, WR Donovan Peoples-Jones and QB Shea Patterson are also pro bound. But southern foe Ohio State has cemented itself as an NFL factory and a perennial national title contender.
The sick irony is, that all the time Michigan disdainfully called the Michigan State Spartans “Little Brother,” that is precisely what the Wolverines have become in Columbus, Ohio.
The reality is, there were five other teams in the Big Ten with a better record than Michigan in 2019. They were also notably below OSU and Penn State in quality in the Big Ten East division. So it bears the question: What can the Wolverines do to close the gap?
One thing UM needs to do is beef up its linebacker corps, as in addition to Uche, a second-round pick of the New England Patriots, fellow ‘backers Jordan Glasgow and Khaleke Hudson went in the later rounds of the 2020 Draft. Look out for Cameron McGrone, a junior from Indianapolis who chipped in with 38 tackles and four sacks a year ago. He’ll be looked at to make a quantum leap as a starter.
2020 Michigan Wolverines – Offensive Weapons
In 2019, Michigan had a nice RB-by-committee approach, with Zach Charbonnet (726 yards, 11 TDs) and Hassan Haskins (622 yards, 5.1 ypc average). They’ll need to roll out another run-heavy attack, but this time without Ruiz mauling people on the interior of the O-line.
The Wolverines lose Peoples-Jones from a talented receiver group, but junior Ronnie Bell should really emerge as a star, provided he can find the end-zone more frequently – Bell had just one score in 2019, but did rake in 48 receptions for 758 receiving yards. Elsewhere, TE Nick Eubanks could take on a prominent role.
On the offensive line, the lone returning starter is Jalen Mayfield. Underclassman Ryan Hayes could take a big step, as he’s got the prototypical left tackle body (6″7, 300 lbs).
The QB situation could be precarious with the departure of Patterson. Offensive coordinator Josh Gattis has a tall order. The likely starter is 6″5, 220 lb Colorado native Dylan McCaffrey. The junior has waited his turn, but only has 35 career attempts, with Patterson getting the lion’s share of the work last season. If McCaffrey crashes and burns, UM has big, intriguing Joe Milton backing him up.
In addition to the heavy linebacker attrition, Michigan also waves goodbye to safety Josh Metellus, a leader of the 2019 defense who is now of the Minnesota Vikings. The Wolverines could look to the defensive line to carry the unit early, particularly with a challenging opening game across the country, at Washington.
Something Michigan always has going for it is being an attractive recruiting pull. In addition to having a lovely campus and high academic standards, the Wolverines have always been a prestige program for football. As such, they excel in pipelines not just in Michigan and neighbouring Ohio, but in states like California, Missouri, New York and Texas. Where the nation’s best and brightest might no longer suit up for UM, Harbaugh still gets a nice pick of four-star recruits to populate the depth charts every year.
2020 Michigan Wolverines Predictions: Team Strengths: Run Game, Defensive Line
The Wolves have that nice aforementioned RB duo of Haskins and Charbonnet, who should thrive if the new faces on the offensive line congeal as a unit. On the other side of the ball, the D-line is looking strong, as one of the few position groups with lots of returning starters.
Defensive ends Aidan Hutchinson and pass-rush threat Kwity Paye will be on the outside, with talented Chris Hinton, Carlo Kemp and Mazi Smith clogging up the middle (Kemp is the returning starting nose tackle). Hopefully for Big Blue, these experienced players can chew up blockers, so the fresh-faced LBs can flow to the ball.
2020 Michigan Wolverines Predictions: Team Weaknesses: Quarterbacking, New Starters
Sure, McCaffrey might turn out to be a decent starting pivot, but the unknown quality of what he brings to the table when the spotlight shines must concern the Ann Arbor faithful. He looks the part, but we won’t know if he’s up to Patterson’s level until he’s got Buckeye and Wisconsin Badger pass rushers breathing down his neck.
In general, Michigan has a lot to replace from a 9-4 2019 squad. Patterson, a playmaker at WR, most of the offensive line and a good chunk of linebackers and secondary. Talented, game-tested players like Ruiz, Peoples-Jones, Uche, Metellus and the gang don’t grow on trees, and it may be even tougher to acclimate the new starters, with this unconventional off-season thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Returning defensive coordinator Don Brown and new linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary (from Texas) will have their work cut out for them.
The schedule makers have given Michigan some breaks in 2020. After a road trip to the West Coast, UM draws Wisconsin and Penn State in Michigan Stadium, although later tests loom with two trips to rabidly hostile territory, with East Lansing (Michigan State) and “The Horseshoe” in Columbus (Ohio State).
After the first game of the season, Michigan gets to enjoy some home cookin’.
2020 Michigan Wolverines Schedule
- 9/5 — at Washington
- 9/12 — vs. Ball State
- 9/19 — vs. Arizona State
- 9/26 — vs. Wisconsin
- 10/3 — vs. Penn State
- 10/10 — at Michigan State
- 10/17 — at Minnesota
- 10/24 — vs. Purdue
- 10/31 — OFF
- 11/7 — vs. Maryland
- 11/14 — at Rutgers
- 11/21 — vs. Indiana
- 11/28 — at Ohio State
2020 Michigan Wolverines Prediction: 3rd in the Big Ten East & a 10-3 record (Bet Now at any of our Reviewed Online Sportsbooks!)
Michigan simply can’t keep up to the recruiting and dominant performances of Ohio State, but the Wolverines tend to thrive when people won’t give them the time of day. I’ll call for an upset or two and for them to reach double-digit wins in 2020. They’ll threaten for second in the Big Ten East.
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