Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Predictions for the 2015 Team 136 Michigan Wolverines

Here we go again - predicting the Michigan season. I have no idea, being consistently wrong the past 7 years, overly optimistic 6 of the 7 years. Rich Rod and Hoke continued to befuddle me. Prognosticators have predicted anywhere from 2-10 to 9-3 for Michigan’s team this year. The team is supposedly not as talented as its Big Ten rivals. My hope, and best guess, is 8-4, which will mark a return to excellence. Most commentators respect Coach Harbaugh’s record in turning teams around, but figure he is 1-3 years away from restoring Michigan to excellence. Here’s two predictions. First, Ohio State will not return as national champions. The Buckeyes have a consistent record. The Buckeyes have been preseason favorites for Number One at season’s end eight times, and they fell short all eight times. Second, Michigan State will defeat Michigan this year. Every Michigan first year coach beginning with Bo in 1969 lost to the Spartans Bo, Mo, Lloyd, RichRod, and Hoke all lost their Michigan State game. Both Michigan State and Ohio State have better teams with greater depth at this point this year. Yet the odds favor Harbaugh emulating his mentor, Bo. The 1969 Ohio State returning national championship was a landslide favorite to crush Michigan in Ann Arbor. The Buckeyes were rated one of the all-time great college football teams. The Wolverines cleaned their clock 24-12. Schembechler was no longer “Bo, who?” Michigan football has lacked toughness in recent years. The third quarter has seen few points scored, and games were often lost at the end. Last year’s team had a reputation for being soft with a sense of entitlement. Bo solved that by pushing the players in practice and driving many off the team. He posted a now famous sign: “Those who stay will be champions.” Coach Harbaugh similarly toughened this team with exhausting practices – 4 hour practices. Several quit the team. Every player, regardless of year, had to earn his position on the team – no entitlements. The past 8 years have been frustrating for the Michigan family. Losses to Appalachian State, Toledo, Illinois, Purdue, Minnesota, and Penn State have been demoralizing while Michigan State has returned to greatness after a 4 decade lapse and Ohio State has won nine of the past ten games. Michigan has been 24-32 in the Big Ten over the past 7 years. Michigan starts the season on the road in Utah Thursday night. Utah won in Ann Arbor last year and is a 5½ favorite Thursday night. If Michigan pulls an upset, then the season should end, absent major injuries, 8-4 or even 9-3 with a decent bowl game. The consensus is that Michigan will lose to Utah, Michigan State, Minnesota, Penn State and Ohio State this year. I hope not. I think not. Jim Harbaugh has proven he can coach, recruit, and drive players to succeed. His swagger spreads to the players. He has already proven his worth to the Athletic Department even before coaching a game. Attendance was slumping. Students stopped going to games. Season ticket sales were in the dump. Michigan with the largest stadium no longer led the nation in attendance. The games are sold out this year with student tickets and season tickets up substantially – a sign of good times coming. All Jim Harbaugh has to do this year is beat Ohio State on November 28 as the Marching Band plays The Victors and 114,000 fans storm the field. Bo will be smiling.

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