Odds and Schedule
Michigan started last season with high hopes and a 5-0 record. However, the latter half of the year was almost the opposite as they lost six of eight Games. If the Wolverines finish with a similar 7-6 record this time around, many will start doubting Brady Hoke at the helm.
If we use the odds from the largest sportsbook in the world, sportsbook.ag, Michigan would barely crack the top 25. Their current odds to win the National Championship are 65 to 1 which would rank them 23rd overall in the nation.
Most of the pressure from media and fans will fall at quarterback where Devin Gardner is set to start once again. Although if things don’t start well, sophomore Shane Morris could be implemented at some point. Gardner had decent passing numbers (60.3% completion, 2,960 yards, 21 TDs, 11 INTs), but that was about all the offense had. Their running Game was close to non-existent averaging only 3.3 yards per carry as a team. RB Fitzgerald Toussaint is gone this year, but that shouldn’t matter much with Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith filling in. As for Gardner, he averaged 2.9 yards per carry with a lot of that due to sacks. Devin Funchess will be Gardner’s top option in the passing Game and he’ll be joined by some fresh faces.
The offensive line loses its top guy and is projected to start Four sophomores. In addition, Gardner is going to be working with his third coordinator in his five years with the team. Needless to say, this offense still remains a work in progress.
The defense also got a new coordinator, who will work on mixing things up. This unit is led by its linebacking core of Jake Ryan, Desmond Morgan and James Ross. Ryan is set to have a huge season after dealing with injuries most of 2013. The line returns a couple seniors that should keep them reliable and in check. The secondary had problems last year, but with a top CB recruit joining them, better things are expected.
Michigan gave up 40-plus points in three Games and lost to in-state rival Michigan State by 23 points last year, something Hoke will try and fix this season.
Unfortunately for him, Michigan’s Schedule is not terribly friendly. For starters, the Wolverines have to play Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State all on the road, the three toughest teams on their Schedule. They also get Rutgers and Northwestern away from home and neither are going to be freebies. Michigan also draws Penn State, Minnesota and an improving Maryland squad.
If the Wolverines can’t figure things out on the offensive end, it’s going to be extremely difficult for them to win those three road Games. That leaves nine wins on the board and that’s if they can actually play well consistently.
With a number of areas that need improving, it’s hard to see Michigan competing for a Big Ten title this year. If that’s their goal, they’ll need a better running Game, consistency at QB and a more-rounded defense. That’s asking a lot.
Still, don’t be surprised if they stack up the points in their first Game gainst Appalachian State, the team that embarrassed them many years ago.
2014 Michigan Football Schedule
Aug. 30 vs. Appalachian State
Sep. 6 at Notre Dame
Sep. 13 vs. Miami (OH)
Sep. 20 vs. Utah
Sep. 27 vs. Minnesota
Oct. 4 at Rutgers
Oct. 11 vs. Penn State
Oct. 25 at Michigan State
Nov. 1 vs. Indiana
Nov. 8 at Northwestern
Nov. 22 vs. Maryland
Nov. 29 at Ohio State