The 2018 season is just about upon us as camp will kick off this week and before you know it, it’ll be game time in South Bend on September 1st. This is the biggest year of Harbaugh’s tenure and the naysayers are out in full force. Michigan has yet to win anything meaningful in quite some time. Can a team almost completely full of “his” players end the streak? A lot will have to go right for the Wolverines. That includes some (what now will seem like) bold takes coming true.
So, to preview the 2018 Michigan football season, here are my bold predictions for the upcoming season:
1. Michigan beats up on Notre Dame
While openers are normally an overrated judgment for a team, Michigan needs this one in South Bend for multiple reasons. Not only is this a huge season for the program but Michigan got punked in the last meeting between the two programs (31-0 in 2014). People are doubting the program, doubting Jim Harbaugh, and doubting Shea Patterson. Michigan can finally be the team with the chip on their shoulder. And I believe it’ll show right away.
The game may go back and forth to start like most big openers do, but I see Don Brown’s ridiculously talented defense forcing Brandon Wimbush into multiple turnovers to sway momentum fully towards the Wolverines. Add in some big runs from Higdon and a couple “wow” plays from Patterson, Michigan pulls away in the 2nd half for a much-needed opening night win.
2. Shea Patterson is the truth
Like Joel Klatt said, Patterson is the most talented quarterback Harbaugh has had at the collegiate level since Andrew Luck. He was the #1 quarterback and #3 overall player in the 2016 class for a reason. He led the SEC in most passing categories just before getting injured in 2017 for a reason. He’s an athletic, savvy gunslinger that plays with poise and moxie but isn’t perfect. He can miss on tight windows and will make mistakes trying to make big plays with his arm (a bit like Brett Favre) and his feet (like Johnny Manziel) but it tends to pay off more than not.
With a talented set of weapons on offense in Karan Higdon and Chris Evans in the backfield, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Tarik Black on the outside, and Sean McKeon and Zach Gentry at tight end, to go with an elite defense, he should put up big numbers. If he stays healthy, I see him playing up to his hype and leading Michigan to a very successful season.
3. Chase Winovich breaks a trophy
Seeing how Winovich treated the Little Brown Jug after the Minnesota game last season, this isn’t even that hard to believe happening. Though Minnesota isn’t on the schedule, Michigan will have the chance to win back the Paul Bunyan trophy in East Lansing. If that goes down, look out. Winovich is a big talker and there aren’t many games that feature more chirping than Michigan-Michigan State.
If Michigan wins, expect Winovich to go bananas. There’s a chance he drops or smashes Paul’s head during an intense celebratory jumping dance. Similar to Paul Bunyan, a tale as such would only make Winovich’s legend grow stronger.
Even if Michigan doesn’t win that one, there’s always the chance he breaks something after the Notre Dame game or Ohio State game or bowl game or at the least the Rutgers game.
4. Karan Higdon sets multiple rushing records
Higdon told reporters that he would’ve gone pro if he broke 1,000 yards last season. But he finished 6 yards short. While that’s too bad for Higdon, it’s huge for this Michigan team. He might be the best running back in the Big Ten that no one’s talking about. With what is expected to be a much-improved offense with Shea Patterson and Ed Warinner in the mix, Higdon should get plenty of chances to put up numbers.
Whether Patterson plays well or not, Higdon will put up numbers. But if the defense has to pay attention to a real passing threat, it’ll open things up for big plays. Look for Higdon to have a big senior year, improve his draft stock immensely, and break some rushing records at Michigan.
5. Michigan beats its rivals
This is a bold take, which is sad. It’s no secret that Harbaugh is 1-5 against his two biggest rivals and 0-3 against the Buckeyes. That has to change this season and that’s well now around the program. And, I’ll be that guy, it’s not like Michigan is getting blown out in these games. Ok, that happened once in the first game against Ohio State. But besides that, there was The Spot game and then the Blown 14-0/O’Korn Interception game against the Buckeyes, and then the biggest fluke play in college football history in the Trouble With the Snap game and then the Rain Game with O’Korn against Michigan State. It’s long from the days of getting blown out against both teams. But that’s still not ok and is no excuse. “Almost” doesn’t count and Michigan has to find a way to win these games this year, even though they’re all on the road (including Notre Dame and Rutgers).
The quarterback talent is there. The defense is elite. The offense has experienced playmakers. There’s a new strength and conditioning staff. The coaching staff remains one of the best in college football. There are no more excuses. Michigan needs to win this season and I believe the new chip on the players and staff’s shoulders will shine through all year long.
Notre Dame is good but beatable. Michigan State is really good but beatable. Rutgers isn’t really a rival but either way, it’s Rutgers. Ohio State is arguably the most talented roster in America but beatable with or without Urban Meyer. It’ll be a season-long gauntlet for still a pretty young team but as long as they stay healthy, the talent and motivation is there for a memorable season.
Bold predictions and hot take are different. But one in the same. What are some of your boldest, hottest takes for the 2018 Michigan football season? Let us know in the comment section below!
Photo Credit: Michigan Football/MGoBlue.com
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