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Michigan Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2022

Cade McNamara, Michigan Wolverines Football

Cade McNamara and the Wolverines have a manageable schedule as they look to not only defend their Big Ten championship but also return to the College Football Playoff.

Everything came together (finally) for Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines in 2022, beating Ohio State in The Game, winning the Big Ten Championship Game in convincing fashion, and an appearance in the College Football Playoff. Despite returning just 64 percent of their overall production from a year ago, and some major departures on defense, the Wolverines are expected to challenge for another conference title this season.

Related: Michigan Football 2022 Season Preview and Prediction

One reason why the Wolverines are once again considered title contenders in the conference is the manageable schedule on tap for 2022. Calling Michigan's non-conference schedule a cakewalk would be an insult to cakes. The combined record of its three non-conference opponents — Colorado State, Hawaii, and UConn — in 2021 was 10-27.

Digging into the heart of their Big Ten slate, the Wolverines benefit from not facing West Division favorite Wisconsin for the first time in six years. A perfectly-timed bye week is scheduled in Week 8, sandwiched in between matchups with Michigan State and Penn State, both of whom have to travel to Ann Arbor. The Game against the Buckeyes in Columbus will be an absolute meatgrinder for the Wolverines, given the beatdown they put on their rivals a year ago, but everything leading up to the finale sets up well for Michigan to have another successful year.

Can the Wolverines successfully repeat as Big Ten champs in 2022? The experts at Athlon Sports chime in as they pick every game on Michigan’s schedule this season. 

Michigan Football Game-by-Game Predictions for 2022

Steven LassanMark RossMike Bainbridge

Colorado State

Michigan

Michigan

Michigan

Hawaii

Michigan

Michigan

Michigan

UConn

Michigan

Michigan

Michigan

Maryland

Michigan

Michigan

Michigan

at Iowa

Iowa

Michigan

Iowa

at Indiana

Michigan

Michigan

Michigan

Penn State

Michigan

Michigan

Michigan

Michigan State

Michigan

Michigan

Michigan

at Rutgers

Michigan

Michigan

Michigan

Nebraska

Michigan

Michigan

Michigan

Illinois

Michigan

Michigan

Michigan

at Ohio State

Ohio State

Ohio State

Ohio State

Final Record

10-2

11-1

10-2

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Jim Harbaugh’s team had a breakthrough 2021 season by winning the Big Ten and earning a trip to the CFB Playoff. Replicating that path in ’22 will require the Wolverines to overcome some key personnel departures, but a favorable schedule and an offense on the rise (35.8 points a game last year) should keep Michigan in the hunt for a playoff trip once again.

A standout defense led the way for Harbaugh’s team last year by limiting opponents to 17.4 points a game. However, ends Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo (combined 25 sacks), safety Dax Hill and cornerback Vincent Gray have departed, leaving just three starters in place for ’22. Also, there’s a new coordinator (Jesse Minter) with Mike Macdonald leaving for the NFL. Although a total collapse would be a surprise, a small step back is expected considering the big names leaving Ann Arbor. However, Michigan can make up for the defensive losses with its firepower on offense. Whether it’s J.J. McCarthy or Cade McNamara at the helm, scoring points won’t be a problem behind one of the nation’s top backfields, receiving corps and lines.

If Michigan can survive the road trek to Iowa on Oct. 1, 11-0 before the showdown with Ohio State is within reach. And if the Wolverines finish the season at 11-1, that still might be good enough to make the playoff this fall. The offensive firepower is there - it's all about how Michigan's defense reloads.

Mark Ross (@AthlonMarkR)
So what do Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines have in mind for an encore? That team set the bar pretty high and there's a lot of talent that's moved on, especially on defense. However, the offense appears to be in even better shape and the schedule is certainly manageable. Michigan shouldn't break much of a sweat in September with the first test coming on the road against Iowa to start October. Later on, the Wolverines get Penn State and Michigan State both at home and with a bye week in between. There may be a potential trap game lying in wait (vs. Nebraska on Nov. 12?) but more likely than not their season will, once again, come down to The Game in Columbus against an Ohio State team that wants payback. So it's entirely possible that Michigan could be 11-0 (or 10-1 depending on the Iowa game) entering the last week of the regular season, putting the Wolverines just one victory away from a shot at back-to-back Big Ten titles (and positioned for a return to the College Football Playoff), even though it can be argued that this team is not as good as last year's championship squad.

Mike Bainbridge (@MBainbridgeCFF)
The Wolverines should be able to navigate through the first four weeks with relative ease with a cupcake non-conference schedule and a home bout with Maryland, a team in which Michigan has dominated in recent years. The biggest intrigue through the first month is likely to be which quarterback performs at a higher clip between Cade McNamara and J.J. McCarthy as they are locked in a competition mid-way through fall camp. The real season will start on Oct. 1 with a trip to Iowa City which has become a house of horrors of sorts for the Wolverines. Should Michigan come out of that matchup unscathed, the schedule is favorable to where the Wolverines will likely be favored every week leading up to The Game in Columbus to close out the season. Because of the changes on defense, losing two premier pass rushers in Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo, repeating 2021’s success might prove to be too difficult, but a 10-2 follow-up after last season would be an accomplishment.

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