There appears to be a sizable split among Michigan prognosticators this season. Some believe the team will struggle to a .500 record, some believe the team could flirt with eight or nine wins, and still others believe the Wolverines will contend for a playoff spot.
Just how good will Jim Harbaugh’s team be in Year One?
“I think they’re only going to lose, at most, two games,” Bleacher Report college football writer Greg Couch said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “If they can beat Utah – it’s a tough one – but if you look at their schedule, if they can take down Utah, and I think that’s a tossup, they should be 6-0 going into that Michigan State game. They don’t have Wisconsin on that schedule. I don’t think Penn State or Northwestern are that great. They should go into that Ohio State game with one loss in the final game of the year.”
Michigan opens at Utah before playing a series of manageable games: home games against Oregon State, UNLV and BYU, a road game at Maryland and then home games against Northwestern and Michigan State.
Couch will not be surprised if the Wolverines have just one loss entering the final week of the regular season, when they host Ohio State on Nov. 28. For as good as the Buckeyes are, could Michigan give them a scare in that one?
“Yes, but a lot of it just because of the emotional end of the game,” Couch said. “Certainly Ohio State’s got more talent, but yeah, if Michigan goes into that game with one loss, think of all the attention Harbaugh’s going to have then. As much as everyone’s portraying him as a god now, think about what it’ll be like then – and Michigan players will believe (they can win).”
Needless to say, Couch doesn’t anticipate a rough transition for Harbaugh.
“When Brady Hoke came in, he had to sort of change (Michigan’s philosophy),” Couch said. “If you think about Rich Rodriguez, he wanted that hurry-up offense, and Brady Hoke came in and he wanted to go back to the smashmouth. Harbaugh’s style fits a lot more with Hoke’s, so I don’t think he’s going to have to make massive changes. He’s got that big running back (Derrick Green). They’ve got four offensive linemen coming back from last year. So my point is, I don’t think it’ll take a huge amount of time to have his system in place and to have the team rolling. And then you get all the emotion from that game, (so Michigan will have a chance against Ohio State).”