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University of Michigan Football: Are National Championship Hopes Realistic?

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National Champs, Michigan Wolverines: Can It Happen?

Michigan Football Spring Game Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Congrats to Michigan for having such a hypetastic offseason that anything less than a berth in the CFB Playoffs is failure!

Michigan Football Spring Game
Peppers!
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Does Michigan pass your own eyeball test? How’s your faith in Michigan’s unknown QB situation? How does the schedule shake out in your eyes? What’s your prediction for Michigan’s record? What bowl will they end up playing in?

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Candystripes: I honestly have no idea what to expect from Michigan this year. That said, the schedule lines up pretty favorably regardless. Barring some seriously unfavorable circumstances, the absolute worst I think you’re looking at is 8-4, with a potential ceiling of around 10-2/11-1. I don’t know if that guarantees a January bowl, but it likely means you’re going somewhere warm come the end of 2016.

GF: 10-2. Tough finishing schedule and presumably either Iowa/MSU/OSU/Wisconsin will play a big-time game and knock off the Wolverines. Michigan is good, maybe even great, but haven’t separated themselves to the point where I would feel comfortable giving them an undefeated reg season. But I enjoy all the hype I hear from AA and I like the team attitude and the lack of scandal or individual-player controversy.

GF3: Well, we’ve been assured that the same Jim Harbaugh who never even won the Pac-10/12 championship is the greatest coach in history, able to turn a large algae bloom into a championship QB (because DEVELOPMENT and REASONS), so I pretty much see Michigan going 15-0 and owning the golden Dr. Pepper obstetric anatomy model. Call it a lock.

Al NamiasIV: Yes, I'm a believer in the Harbaugh hype, at least in the short term. I'm not sure if he can maintain a program over a long period without alienating his players, but that is another question. UM has one of the best front fours in the conference and one of the best secondaries in the country. Throw in a top-notch O-line and plenty of skill position talent and I have them at 10-2/11-1 with an undefeated season as a legitimate possibility. However, as a prognosticator, I don't like it that their three toughest games--Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State—are all on the road. I also think Indiana, although at home, has all the markings of a trap game.

Brian: Michigan definitely passes the eyeball test. An experienced team led by what looks to be an outstanding defense that figures to be in the mix for the Big Ten title. The quarterback battle is generating the most offseason discussion (as quarterback battles tend to do), but if there's a concern for Michigan in 2016, it's not as much at quarterback, but rather offensive line depth (there is none) and at linebacker (all new in 2016). The defense is led by a talented and extremely deep defensive front and an accomplished secondary, so linebacking troubles could be covered up to an extent, but if Michigan were to lose an offensive lineman or two to injury, or if newcomer Grant Newsome struggles in his first season as a starter, the Wolverines could be in trouble. Barring that, this looks to be a better team than last season's Wolverines. But will that translate into a better record?

MNW: They barely pass my eyeball test because they don’t have a QB (I honestly neither know nor care who I like in the O’Korn/Speights competition) but they do have a pretty damn good defense.

The one thing I’d be optimistic about for the Wolverines on offense is that whichever QB wins the job will have had a year under his belt in Harbaugh’s proven system. If they can approach the levels of game management that Jake fucking Rudock somehow managed, I have a tough time picking against the Wolverines to not at least be in contention for the East title — if just because I can see a Circle of Death breaking out among Michigan, MSU, and Ohio State. I see the Wolverines taking one or two losses in conference (possibly Iowa on the crossover, since beating HARBAUGH seems like something that of course Kirk Ferentz knows how to do in 9-7 fashion) and finishing something like 10-2/11-1, with any losses coming in conference. Put ‘em somewhere on NYD...maybe it’s their turn for the Outback against LSU.

Townie: I think Michigan passes the eyeball test. They have a great defense, talented receiver, and tight end Jake Butt...hell Coach Klein could win with this team.

As if that weren't enough, they have the softest of the non-con schedules outside of a full slate of powder puff teams. I mean, come on. Hawaii, UCF, and Colorado? Those three schools had a combined seven wins last year.

Seven.

And the conference schedule is worse. Michigan faces the Quadrangle of fluff - Rutgers, Maryland, Illinois, and Indiana. They have a decent middle of Penn State, Wisconsin, and Iowa. The real tests are Michigan State and Ohio State at the end of the year.

Here’s my prediction...either an undefeated squad comes to the shoe and loses but goes on to a good New Year’s Day bowl

or

An early slip against Wisconsin or Michigan State derails the team. They drop four total and play a mid-level ACC team in Orlando.

or

Quarterback troubles make the receiver skills moot. The kid goes all Tommy Armstrong, turns the ball over so much that they only win five conference games. They go on to play Vanderbilt in Jacksonville.

Andrew Kraszewski: Insofar as I don’t watch the state’s JV squad much, I have to make some assumptions here. It would be hard for the ‘crootin services to be that wrong about all the starz Hoke recruited, and those outstanding classes are now upperclassmen with lots of experience. A jugs machine could take snaps and rack 3000 yards with Chesson, Darboh, Butt, and a line that should be quite good. And the schedule is cotton for the first month, so even if the new QB is a schmuck, he’ll have some time to adjust. So, Michigan: win big this year or shut up, forever, about being ‘back.’ Because if you can't at least get to Indy with the division’s powers having lost about 25 NFL players between them, it'll be time at last to look your own mediocrity in the mirror.

Stew: Well, let’s just go ahead and play this out. They pretty much waltz right to 7-0 on the back of a ridiculously easy schedule to start the season. After that there are only about two games that I have much question about, MSU and Iowa. Which pretty much puts the best case at 11-1 (they aren’t beating OSU this year), and worse case at 9-3. That’s pretty good, though there’s some schedule help there, too. As for a bowl game? I think the Rose Bowl is salivating at the prospect of getting Michigan back.

Aaron Yorke: I don't have a lot of faith in John O'Korn or Shane Morris, but you know what? Harbaugh is a guy who knows how to win with bad quarterbacks. He'll figure it out and go 10-2 for a New Year's Six berth. The non-conference schedule is SAWFT, but the Wolverines make up for it by playing Wisconsin and Iowa out of the West and renewing their series with Notre Dame in the near future. I don't know how you pass or fail an eyeball test before the season starts, but I'm sure Michigan will look just dandy in those maize and blue uniforms come September.