Countdown to No. 1: No. 16 Michigan

I'll give him this: For a guy who has a collective 1-5 against his two biggest rivals, Jim Harbaugh has brought an extraordinary amount of media attention to the University of Michigan football program.

But c'mon! Sooner or later doesn't Coach Khaki Pants (28-11 in three seasons) have to win SOMETHING to remain relevant in Ann Arbor?

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Maybe the fourth year will be the charm. Maybe not. Life ain't easy in the Big Ten East.

This much we know: The Wolverines are going to field another nasty defense. Eight starters return from a group that was No. 13 nationally in scoring (18.8 ppg). Ends Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich combined for 14 sacks last season.

The Wolverines might finally have the quarterback to improve the offense (91st nationally last season) in Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson. But I'm not totally convinced that Harbaugh, the offensive coordinator, knows exactly how to maximize Patterson's skill set.

We'll see. All I know is that Michigan plays both Michigan State and Ohio State on the road. The Wolverines also play Wisconsin from the Western division. And there is a little trip to Notre Dame to open the season.

Michigan lost its final three games of the 2018 season to finish 8-5. If Harbaugh can't improve on that when the folks in Ann Arbor are really going to start to get restless. Prediction: The Wolverines will lose at Notre Dame but will be 5-1 when they host Wisconsin on Oct. 13. Then we'll find out.

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