Michigan, which is ranked seventh in the preseason poll, is one of a handful of favorites to reach the College Football Playoff this year, and the Wolverines have the schedule to do it – depending on your point of view.
On the one hand, their three toughest games – No. 12 Michigan State, No. 17 Iowa and No. 6 Ohio State – are all on the road. On the other hand, their first seven games are extremely manageable, to put it mildly, and six are at home.
“Michigan is really kind of busting at the seams to come out in this second year,” Wolverines radio voice Jim Brandstatter said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “They’ve got five games at home to begin the season, and everybody thinks that by the time they get to Michigan State in late October, they’re going to be 7-0. Now, they got to get the job done. They’ve got to beat Penn State and Wisconsin in successive weekends in Ann Arbor. But those are the last of those five straight home games. If Michigan can get through that schedule and get to 7-0, last year’s hype between Michigan and Michigan State will seem like nothing compared to the hype that it might get this year.”
Michigan went 10-3 in Jim Harbaugh’s first season, which culminated in a 41-7 thrashing of Florida in the Citrus Bowl. Harbaugh then ruffled some feathers this offseason with his in-your-face recruiting tactics.
He hasn’t been in Ann Arbor all that long, but he’s rapidly closing the gap with Urban Meyer and Nick Saban.
“I don’t think there’s any question,” Brandstatter said. “He’s made a lot of people upset a little bit. He’s gone down to the Southeastern Conference. He held his spring football practice for Michigan in Florida, where it’s a hotbed of recruiting and great high school players. He has got the name of Michigan all out there across the nation, and there are kids that are literally looking at Michigan from all over the country who think this is a great place for me to go. So yeah, I think he has made an impact, and he’s gotten a lot of people’s attention, from the Notre Dames to the Southeastern Conference to the Pac-12 out there. They’re saying ‘What’s he doing going to Hawaii and running a camp?’ Well, he’s out there running a camp because he’s going to have a couple of kids come to school at Michigan from out there, and they’re going to be contributors down the road.”