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Michigan kind of came out of nowhere in Jim Harbaugh's first season to win 10 games and be a legitimate contender in the Big Ten. If it wasn't for an unfortunate play against Michigan State, the Wolverines would've been co-champs in the East, even though they were routed by Ohio State in the finale. Because of those 10 wins and a decent amount of starters returning, Michigan is one of the favorites to win the Big Ten this season.
Michigan is listed at odds of 12 to 1 to win the National Championship at 5 dimes sportsbook which makes them the 6th overall choice. Odds change, so be sure to check in with 5 dimes and betonline for the lastest updates.
Even though quarterback still isn't decided, no one is too worried about what will happen. Transfer John O'Korn was expected to come in and win the job over Shane Morris, but redshirt sophomore Wilton Speight has kind of taken the reigns since looking like the best quarterback in the spring. Speight may not have the arm strength as the other two, but he has shown consistency and hasn't turned the ball over as much in the early going.
Whoever is at QB will have a great group of receivers, led by wide outs Jehu Chesson (764 yards, 9 TDs) and Amara Darboh (58 receptions, 727 yards) as well as tight end Jake Butt (51 receptions, 654 yards). Basically, all of their top guys from last year return and the same goes for running back where De'Veon Smith (753 yards, 6 TDs) is expected to lead the backfield again. Even then, Drake Johnson and Ty Isaac are still there to take away some touches. The offensive line is mostly intact with only one guy gone.
The Wolverines didn't have the best offense last year, but showed plenty of progress under Harbaugh and they should be at those same levels again, if not better as long as they can get consistent quarterback play.
Even with the defense losing a few more starters, including its entire linebacking core, Michigan is set to be just as good. Harbaugh brought in Don Brown to be the new coordinator, who comes over from Boston College. He brings in a 4-2-5 scheme that will bring Jabrill Peppers to more of a linebacker role. Peppers can basically do everything for this team and is used on both sides of the ball. He's joined by cornerback Jourdan Lewis, who is one of the best shutdown guys in the nation.
To go with those two, the defensive line still has some impactful players in Chris Wormley, Bryan Mone and Ryan Glasgow. So even with multiple players departing, the Wolverines will be just fine defensively and should be one of the best groups in the conference again.
To make matters better for Michigan, the schedule opens up nicely with five straight home games to start this season. In addition, they don't really have a tough non-conference game so 10 wins are surely on the table. The Wolverines should win all of their home games, and their only real chances to lose will come in three key road battles in Big Ten play at Michigan State, Iowa and Ohio State. Michigan could easily be undefeated when they travel to East Lansing in late October and that'll either make or break the season.
Michigan could easily find itself in the College Football Playoff if their QB situation doesn't become a detriment. If the Wolverines can win a couple road games, the Big Ten championship game is waiting for them as well.
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2016 Michigan Wolverines Football Schedule
Sept. 3 vs. Hawaii
Sept 10 vs. UCF
Sept. 17 vs. Colorado
Sept. 24 vs. Penn State
Oct. 1 vs. Wisconsin
Oct. 8 at Rutgers
Oct. 22 vs. Illinois
Oct. 29 at Michigan State
Nov. 5 vs. Maryland
Nov. 12 at Iowa
Nov. 19 vs. Indiana
Nov. 26 at Ohio State
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