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Karan Higdon emerged from last season as the de facto starting running back, and there’s no reason to think he’ll lose that job now, especially after adding about 15 lbs. of muscle in the off-season. Chris Evans projects to be the #2 guy.
Prediction: Karan Higdon, 1100 yards
The wide receiver position is a huge mess right now after the transfers of Eddie McDoom, Drake Harris, Maurice Ways, and Kekoa Crawford . . . and, oh yeah, the injury to Tarik Black’s foot. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see a tight end lead the team in receiving yards, but I’ll go with Donovan Peoples-Jones. He’s one of four healthy scholarship receivers on the roster, along with Grant Perry, Oliver Martin, Ronnie Bell, and Nico Collins.
Prediction: Donovan Peoples-Jones, 750 yards
Hit the jump for the rest of the season predictions.
Last year I pegged Bush to have 95 tackles, and he ended up with 102. I’m projecting a little bit of a drop-off from last year because I think some of those younger guys (Drew Singleton, Josh Ross, etc.) will get a little more playing time now that they’re sophomores.
Prediction: Devin Bush, Jr., 95 tackles
Last year I had Winovich getting 9 sacks and he got 8, which tied him for the team lead with Khaleke Hudson. This year I think he’ll get 8.5.
Prediction: Chase Winovich, 8.5 sacks
I really like Lavert Hill, which is why I think opponents will try to test the cornerback on the other side, David Long. The problem for them is that David Long is pretty dang good, too.
Prediction: David Long, 3 interceptions
ALL-BIG TEN FIRST TEAM
Prediction: Shea Patterson, Zach Gentry, Ben Bredeson, Rashan Gary, Devin Bush, Lavert Hill
LEADING SCORER (NON-KICKER)
I have starting running back Karan Higdon scoring 12 touchdowns on the ground and 1 through the air.
Prediction: Karan Higdon
BREAKOUT OFFENSIVE PLAYER
I wouldn’t have picked this guy before the injury to Tarik Black, but now Michigan needs someone to step up at Black’s receiver spot. I think Nico Collins will have a pretty solid year. Before Black’s injury, I was going to go with fullback Ben Mason.
Prediction: Nico Collins/Ben Mason
BREAKOUT DEFENSIVE PLAYER
There are probably only two options on defense, since everyone returns except Mike McCray II at WILL and Maurice Hurst, Jr. at DT. I’m not confident that either will flash, but those replacements are expected to be Devin Gil and Michael Dwumfour. I think I’m going to go with backup linebacker Joshua Uche, who should be used on passing downs. He won’t be a star this year like Devin Bush and Khaleke Hudson were last year, but I think Uche will force his way into earning more snaps.
Prediction: Joshua Uche
MOST DISAPPOINTING OFFENSIVE PLAYER
This is going to seem counterintuitive since I pegged him as an all-conference player up above, but I think Shea Patterson is going to disappoint a lot of Michigan fans. Patterson is a risk-taker, and he’s a good enough athlete to make some really good plays. But I also think he’s going to throw a fair number of interceptions, and people who expect him to be Michigan’s savior are going to be frustrated by the picks.
Prediction: Shea Patterson
MOST DISAPPOINTING DEFENSIVE PLAYER
For all the hype about him being the second coming of Maurice Hurst, Jr., Michael Dwumfour has often struggled with injuries and has yet to produce on the field. It’s all practice hype and no production so far. If he plays like Hurst, I will be pleasantly surprised, but I’m not getting my hopes up.
Prediction: Michael Dwumfour
THE BIG FINISH
September 1 at Notre Dame: WIN. I think Michigan’s defense will be too much for Notre Dame, even though I think Michigan’s offense will struggle a little to start.
September 9 vs. Western Michigan: WIN. Michigan vs. MAC school is a given . . . unless it’s 2008.
September 15 vs. SMU: WIN. I don’t want to underestimate SMU, which put up a ton of points last year. They averaged 37.8 points/game in 2017, and only one time were they held below 22 points. They even put up 36 against Gary Patterson and TCU. But they have a new coach (Sonny Dykes) and I think Michigan pulls it out.
September 22 vs. Nebraska: WIN. I think Nebraska’s going to get good pretty quickly, and Michigan takes care of handling freshman QB Adrian Martinez.
September 29 at Northwestern: WIN. Northwestern is a solid team, but Michigan is better.
October 6 vs. Maryland: WIN. Michigan just has too much for Maryland, especially with all the off-season stuff they have going on within that program.
October 13 vs. Wisconsin: WIN. Michigan probably should have beaten Wisconsin last year . . . you know, if they had any semblance of an offense. The hope is that the Wolverines should have a stronger O this season, so I think Michigan gets revenge at home.
October 20 at Michigan State: LOSS. I’m at the point with this rivalry that I’ll believe it when I see it. Michigan State just seems to have Michigan’s number in recent years.
November 3 vs. Penn State: WIN. Penn State has some good running backs to replace Saquon Barkley, but they also lost some other good players. The Nittany Lions are very dangerous, but I think Michigan wins at home.
November 10 at Rutgers: WIN. Last time Michigan played in New Jersey, it was a 78-0 beatdown to show off for recruits in the Garden State. It won’t be 78-0, but it should be another win for the Wolverines.
November 17 vs. Indiana: WIN. Michigan should have won more handily last year than having to go into overtime. I don’t have a lot of trust in Indiana’s quarterback situation.
November 24 at Ohio State: LOSS. Despite the off-the-field stuff and the loss of a ton of talent, Ohio State has a lot of star power waiting in the wings. And with almost a full season under their belts to mesh together, the Buckeyes should be rolling by the end of November.
Final record: 10-2
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