Is this the year the Wolverines finally get over the hump and make an appearance in the Big Ten title game?
The Michigan Wolverines closed the 2018 season in all-too-familiar territory as they were run out of the building in the finale against Ohio State, and followed that up with an uninspiring performance in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl against Florida in a 41-15 blowout defeat.
Despite the finish to last season, expectations remain considerably high for the Wolverines as they are ranked No. 4 in Athlon Sports' Top 25, and were selected to win the conference by Big Ten beat writers at Media Days.
That 2019 schedule is not for the faint of heart, but can the Wolverines somehow navigate their way to the Big Ten Championship Game for the first time? Here is how Athlon's panel of experts see Michigan’s season playing out.
Michigan Football Game-by-Game Predictions for 2019
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
It’s a tough call between Ohio State and Michigan for the top spot in the Big Ten East Division. While the Buckeyes have more overall roster talent, I’ll take the Wolverines to break through and win the division. Michigan has two factors working in its favor: No Urban Meyer at Ohio State and the season finale against the Buckeyes takes place in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines have to retool a bit on defense but should be fine with Don Brown calling the plays. Jim Harbaugh’s decision to hire Josh Gattis as offensive coordinator will be one of the most intriguing coaching moves to watch in 2019. Gattis is a first-time play-caller, but the former Alabama assistant has plenty of talent to work with, including quarterback Shea Patterson and one of the nation’s top offensive lines and receiving corps.
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)
So this is the year. Really. This is the year Michigan finally breaks through under Jim Harbaugh and wins the Big Ten East. The schedule will never be easy for a Big Ten East team, but Michigan's is manageable, with most of the most difficult games at home — including Notre Dame and Army (yes, Army!) in non-conference action. The trip to Penn State and the home finale against Ohio State figure to be the two most impactful league games. Assuming a win over Ohio State, which is a huge assumption (but one that I am making), the Wolverines can afford to lose in Happy Valley and still win the division. This team is good enough to run the table... but history suggests that this program is also capable of underachieving and losing three to four games. I have faith, however, that this is the year!
Mike Bainbridge (@MBainbridgeCFF)
The 2019 schedule is a rigorous one for the Wolverines with the likes of usual Big Ten suspects Penn State, Michigan State and Ohio State, plus non-conference bouts with Notre Dame and Army. Despite the hype surrounding Michigan entering this season, I have a very difficult time predicting this team will go unscathed. While Notre Dame and Ohio State may have more talented rosters, a mid-season hiccup to a Penn State team, in a road matchup, that is likely to be at night, is where I see the Wolverines slipping up. In the last two meetings between the two teams, the average margin of victory has been 37.7 points with the home team winning all three contests. Would a loss to Penn State, but a win over the Buckeyes still net Michigan a spot in the B1G title game? Only time will tell.