Was last year the chance for Michigan and Jim Harbaugh to walk away with not only a Big Ten title, but a spot in the Final Four?
Could be. Coach Jim Harbaugh had all the ingredients--talent, depth, and a user friendly schedule, which guided the Wolverines to a 9-0 start. But then came a pot hole and a one point loss at Iowa. The Wolverines recovered and were poised again, but then went into Columbus, squandered a lead and then lost a 3-point overtime game to Ohio State. A 1-point loss to Florida State in the Orange Bowl ended the year and the season on a sour note. [membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
Even worse for Wolverine backers, Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Don Brown lost 10 defensive starters, including a Heisman finalist in linebacker Jabrill Peppers. Ouch.
Offensively, only 5 starters return, but one of them is QB Wilson Speight, who threw 18 TDS for more than 2,500 yards last season.
Harbaugh was so perplexed by the challenge of rebuilding, he took his team to Rome this spring for a week of spring practice. And the schedule starts out with a bang, rather than a whimper since the Wolverines must deal with a talented Florida team in their season opener in Arlington, Texas.
So why so high in the pre-season? It's Harbaugh and it's Michigan and Don Brown is an expert at making more with less than almost anyone in the country. And Michigan will have defensive end Rashan Gary returning. Gary was the No. 1 high school recruit in the country last season.
If the Wolverines can get past Florida, they could put together another run that will put them in the Top 10 and in the Big Ten mix. And the Ohio State game is in Ann Arbor. So 9 or even 10 wins looks about right for this team, which should be in a transition season as these young Wolverines mature.[/membership]