After recording an 11-2 record in Brady Hoke’s first season, Michigan slid to an 8-5 mark in 2012. A challenging schedule certainly hurt the Wolverines’ win total, as they lost to Alabama, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Ohio State and South Carolina.
With a lighter slate coming for 2013, Michigan should have a chance to get back into the mix for 10 victories.
The Wolverines play only one top-25 opponent in their non-conference slate (Notre Dame) and host Nebraska and Ohio State in November. Quarterback Devin Gardner should emerge as one of the Big Ten’s top quarterbacks in 2013, and the defense should be steady despite the departure of a couple of a couple of starters.
The 2013 college football season is still over 100 days away, but it’s never too early to start talking predictions and expectations for each team going into 2013.
Athlon Sports’ college football top 25 countdown for 2013 is officially underway. To provide some insight into the selections and rankings for 2013, Athlon’s editors will be debating some of the hottest topics from the preseason throughout May.
Michigan ranks as Athlon's No. 14 team in the 2013 Top 25 countdown.
Will Michigan Play in a BCS Bowl in 2013?
David Fox (@DavidFox615)
More often than not, the Big Ten finds a way to produce two BCS teams. Ohio State sure looks like a favorite to lock up one of those spots, perhaps the Rose Bowl or a national title game slot. After that, there are only a handful of teams that can claim the second slot. The Legends Division is going to be a tough race with Nebraska being the main foil for Michigan this season. I’ve thought about scenarios where Michigan loses back-to-back games to Ohio State, and Nebraska swoops in to grab an at-large BCS bid. Or Michigan -- a five-loss team last year -- simply isn’t ready to contend for the Big Ten title and ends up in the Outback Bowl again. Michigan’s certainly capable of winning the Big Ten, assuming Devin Gardner settles in as starting quarterback. But the Wolverines could lose three Big Ten games and not even be a factor in the BCS.
Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
I'd have to lean towards no. To make a BCS bowl, Michigan at minimum needs to win 10 games and the Legends Division — both of which are well within reach. And in fact, the Wolverines made a BCS bowl appearance not two years ago when it DIDN'T win the Legends Division. However, to land in a BCS bowl the Maize and Blue likely has to start the year 11-0 because back-to-back losses to Ohio State in the season finale and Big Ten title game are also well within reach. Unfortunately, the schedule looks entirely too daunting to pick the Wolverines to begin the year with 11 straight wins. If Michigan loses just one game against, say, Notre Dame, Nebraska, at Penn State, at Northwestern or at Michigan State, a three-loss season is likely. It is hard to see anyone landing an at-large BCS bowl bid with three losses.
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Michigan may not be a top-10 team in terms of talent, but the Wolverines certainly have the schedule to make a run at a BCS bowl. And it may be strange to say this, but Ohio State could help Michigan’s case, especially if the Buckeyes finish No. 2 nationally and a spot in the Rose Bowl is available for the Big Ten.
Michigan’s non-conference schedule is very favorable. Central Michigan, Akron and Connecticut are all wins, with Notre Dame a key swing game. The Wolverines have three wins in a row over the Fighting Irish in Ann Arbor, including a 35-31 thriller in 2011. If Michigan knocks off Notre Dame, it should be 5-0 heading into a road trip to Penn State. Considering the Nittany Lions will have a new quarterback and need to replace a few key leaders on defense, the Oct. 12 matchup should be a win for Michigan.
The final month of the season will determine where Michigan needs to plan for its postseason destination. The Wolverines play at Michigan State, Northwestern and Iowa, while hosting Nebraska and Ohio State. It’s not going to be easy, but I think Michigan can go 4-1 or 3-2 in that stretch. Even if the Wolverines finish the regular season 10-2 and lose close to Ohio State in the regular season finale and Big Ten Championship, a berth in a BCS bowl is very realistic.
Kevin McGuire, No2MinuteWarning.com and NittanyLionsDen.com, (@KevinonCFB)
There is only one way Michigan gets a chance to play in a BCS bowl game this season, and it is not going to be easy. For the Wolverines to make a BCS bowl they must beat Ohio State at least once, and possibly twice. A win in the Big Ten championship game would send Michigan to the Rose Bowl of course, but I am not even sure Michigan will get a chance to play for that trip. I still give an edge to Nebraska for now out of the Big Ten Legends Division and if Michigan can't get by the Huskers in the division I do not like their chances at being eligible for an at-large BCS bid despite their high profile brand.
However, if Michigan can advance to the Big Ten Championship game, the odds may be pretty good they would at least be within striking distance of at-large eligibility. If they happened to lose to Ohio State in the conference championship game by a close margin, perhaps that would help them stay in the running. Getting the Buckeyes at home the previous week could play to their advantage, but the odds Ohio State loses to Michigan twice is not something I would be willing to bet on. And with that, I would consider it a surprise if the Wolverines are booking any trips to a BCS bowl game in January.
The ironic thing here is that Ohio State, Michigan's hated rival, could play a huge role in whether the Wolverines end up in the BCS or not. Should things go according to plan, Michigan, one of the contenders in the Big Ten Legends Division, and Ohio State, the overwhelming favorite in the Leaders, could end up meeting twice in a span of two weeks. The first matchup will be the regular-season finale in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Nov. 30. The encore could come the following week in the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis, provided each teams wins its respective divisions.
In most cases, an Ohio State win over Michigan would seemingly eliminate the Wolverines from the BCS picture, but not if the Buckeyes end up in the national championship game as a result. Should that happen, then the Maize and Blue could end up in the Rose Bowl as the Big Ten representative. As far as consolation prizes go, they wouldn't get much better than that for Wolverine fans. Since I have already laid out the path for Brady Hoke's team, I'll say they take care of the rest on the field this fall and do what's necessary to earn that coveted trip to Pasadena, Calif., in January.
Related College Football Content
Who Should Start at Quarterback for Wisconsin in 2013?
College Football's Top 25 Dynasties of the AP Era
How Many Big Ten Games Will Northwestern Win in 2013?
Ranking the Big Ten Quarterbacks for 2013
Ranking the Big Ten Running Backs for 2013
Ranking the Big Ten Head Coaches for 2013
College Football's Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era
College Football's Top 50 Running Backs of the BCS Era