Today we look at No. 17 – Michigan.
Top 25 to date
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Nuts and bolts
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Coach: Jim Harbaugh (28-11, three seasons at Michigan; 86-38 overall at San Diego, Stanford and Michigan)
2017: 8-5, 5-4 in Big Ten (lost to South Carolina 26-19 in Outback Bowl)
Last league title: 2004
Three things to know
1. Strong D. Jim Harbaugh is known more for his offense, but his defense has no glaring holes going into 2018. They have one of the best defensive lines in the country, highlighted by ends Chase Winovich and Rashan Gary.
The linebacker corps is solid, too, with leading tackler Devin Bush Jr. returning as well as Khaleke Hudson, who had 17.5 tackles for loss last season.
And Michigan continues to produce cornerbacks as Lavert Hill and David Long each have NFL potential.
2. Hello, Shea. No college coach wants to name a starting quarterback this early, but signs point to Shea Patterson being the man for the Wolverines. Patterson transferred from Ole Miss, and is highly-touted as the No. 1-rated quarterback coming out of high school in 2016 by 247Sports.
Patterson joins a team with plenty of receiving options, including WRs Tarik Black and Donovan Peoples-Jones and TEs Sean McKeon and Zach Gentry.
The biggest question for Michigan is who’s going to protect Patterson and create running lines with holes to fill at the right and left tackle spots.
3. Lucky No. 4? Michigan brought in Jim Harbaugh to put the football program back on the national stage. This is his best team yet going into Year 4 – the same number of years he needed to lead Stanford to a 12-1 season in 2010.
The schedule isn’t easy with road games at Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State, but this is the Michigan’s best chance to get back on top of the Big Ten for the first time since 2004.
Three games to watch
Sept. 1 at Notre Dame. Two blueblood programs that are looking to make a statement in the season opener and energize fan bases for big years.
Oct. 13 vs. Wisconsin. The Badgers are arguably the favorites to win the Big Ten, but will have to win at “The Big House” for the first time since 2010.
Nov. 24 at Ohio State. One of the best rivalries in college football. Ohio State has won six straight.