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Michigan Wolverines Football Preview: Predicting the 2016 season

A 10-win season in your debut? Time for the hype train to once again leave the station in Ann Arbor. Such is the nature of a team who hasn’t stayed out of the national or regional headlines all offseason.

But, hype and reality are two different things — even if the reality is that Michigan could be really freaking good in 2016. Some believe a 10-win season is in the offing, others see a different result…all of it represented in our staff picks.

Most importantly, how do we see the full journey taking place? You can go anywhere to see a record prediction, but we’re here to break down each and every game for you.

2016 Michigan Wolverines Football Schedule

Date Opponent Time/TV Tickets
Saturday
Sep. 3
Rainbow Warriors Hawaii Rainbow Warriors
Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
Noon ET
ESPN
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Sep. 10
Knights UCF Knights
Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
Noon ET
ABC/ESPN
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Sep. 17
Buffaloes Colorado Buffaloes
Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
3:30pm ET
BTN
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Sep. 24
Nittany Lions Penn State Nittany Lions
Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 1
Badgers Wisconsin Badgers
Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 8
Scarlet Knights at Rutgers Scarlet Knights
High Point Solutions Stadium, Piscataway, NJ
7 or 8pm ET
ABC/ESPN/2
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 15
OFF
Saturday
Oct. 22
Fighting Illini Illinois Fighting Illini (HC)
Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
3:30pm ET
TV TBA
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 29
Spartans at Michigan State Spartans
Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Nov. 5
Terrapins Maryland Terrapins
Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Nov. 12
Hawkeyes at Iowa Hawkeyes
Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA
8:00pm ET
ABC/ESPN/2
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Nov. 19
Hoosiers Indiana Hoosiers
Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Nov. 26
Buckeyes at Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH
TBA Buy
Tickets

*courtesy FBSchedules.com.

vs. Hawaii Rainbow Warriors
Andy: Win
Dave: Win
Kevin: Win
Zach: Win

There’s a new regime on the Islands of Hawaii, but this is a tough one to see going any other way but a butt-whooping at the hands of the host Wolverines. Don’t be surprised to see a shutout on defense and Michigan getting off to an impressive offensive start.

vs. UCF Knights
Andy: Win
Dave: Win
Kevin: Win
Zach: Win

Former Nebraska quarterback Scott Frost is in charge of the UCF program, and some publications are high on them…despite an 0-12 record last season and a lot of disasters on and off the field. Sure, the majority of the UCF team is back but the gulf is wide between these two programs. Michigan wins another easy game.

vs. Colorado Buffaloes
Andy: Win
Dave: Win
Kevin: Win
Zach: Win

Memories of amazing games between these two programs a few decades a go come flooding back to this writer. However, today’s reality is much different and the Buffs are in terrible shape despite the best efforts of its coaching staff. Unless a miracle is in store in Boulder, this is going to be a brutal trip back to the Big House for them.

vs. Penn State Nittany Lions
Andy: Loss
Dave: Win
Kevin:
Zach: Win

The fourth straight home game for Michigan, and welcome to the first real test of the season as well. While most of the staff believes Michigan takes it at home, I’m going with the better known quantity of Penn State’s offense and defensive combination. Let’s just say I see more points capable out of Penn State’s offense than Michigan’s when lining up against the respective defenses. I also believe Michigan may be a bit too full of themselves after three of the easiest non-conference games in the Big Ten.

vs. Wisconsin Badgers
Andy: Win
Dave: Win
Kevin: Win
Zach: Win

These two teams haven’t met in over a half-decade and that is a shame, but this means an added significance to this game. Both have second-year head coaches and both come in with one loss (spoiler, Wisconsin is going to lose to LSU). It’s as simple as winner becomes a real Big Ten contender and loser is likely in serious trouble given their schedules. Look for this to be a classic Big Ten matchup, but for Michigan to hold serve at home with a late fourth-quarter victory thanks to a turnover by the Badgers.

at Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Andy: Win
Dave: Win
Kevin: Win
Zach: Win

Chris Ash may have what it takes to turn Rutgers in to a better overall program, but he is stuck largely with a roster full of players who are looking for a fresh start or not up to snuff in the Big Ten. The difference in talent will be on full display and the memory of Michigan’s upset loss the last time these two met in Piscataway will be emphatically erased.

vs. Illinois Fighting Illini
Andy: Win
Dave: Win
Kevin: Win
Zach: Win

If this was to be played in Memorial Stadium…well, I would have thought twice about this pick of a Michigan win. After Big Ten media days I came away feeling like things really have changed in Champaign..but I also came away with the feeling that Michigan is much closer to national relevance than Illinois is to pulling itself off the bottom of the Big Ten. So, give me Michigan and its defensive effort to get this one done against a wholly underrated Illini offense.

at Michigan State Spartans
Andy: Win
Dave: Win
Kevin:
Zach: Win

Little Brother got the dramatic win last season to spoil what appeared to be a program-defining moment for the Wolverines. Expect revenge to take place in East Lansing, but don’t expect the last-second dramatics to take place. Sure, the game may be close, but the ultimate advantage comes in the form of an overall better defense for the Wolverines. As long as MSU’s run game is stifled, Michigan will be able to control the game enough to pull off the win.

vs. Maryland Terrapins
Andy: Win
Dave: Win
Kevin: Win
Zach:Win

The obvious headline here is Harbaugh vs. Durkin, but this game is so much more about the players than the relationship and knowledge of each head coach. Will Likely vs. Jabrill Peppers is going to be a sight to behold, as the two could line up opposite of each other a few times and are going to be duking it out as returnees. But, Michigan takes it with a great defense going up against Maryland’s still adjusting offense and weak quarterback.

at Iowa Hawkeyes
Andy: Loss
Dave: Loss
Kevin: Win
Zach: Win

Hey, a road game that will actually test Michigan? Apparently the Big Ten schedule makers decided to actually make things difficult for the Wolverines for a change. Iowa appears to be the cream of the Big Ten West crop and trips to Kinnick Stadium are always tricky affairs for the visitors. Our staff is clearly split on this one, and my thinking is that the trickiness that is Kinnick rears its head and Iowa finds a way to win a game that few will believe they can win if you listen to the national pundits given Michigan’s expected 8-1 record.

vs. Indiana Hoosiers
Andy: Win
Dave: Win
Kevin: Win
Zach: Win

If you want to see the effects of losing on a Jim Harbaugh-coached team, you’ll feel sorry for the Hoosiers after this one. While Indiana has a lot of offensive weapons, no one really bought what Kevin Wilson was selling about his defense at Big Ten Media Days and for that reason it will be all sorts of bad news for Indiana and a good warm up for what is to come next for Michigan.

at Ohio State Buckeyes
Andy: Loss
Dave: Loss
Kevin:
Zach: Loss

No question about it, beating Ohio State is goal No. 1 on Michigan’s list every year and a win here may be the Wolverines’ only hope of a Big Ten East division crown (and that may be a slim hope too). Given the lack of wins over the last decade in this rivalry, Michigan is desperate for a victory over “Ohio.” But, playing on the road against an Ohio State team looking forward to big things on the national stage with J.T. Barrett at quarterback may be a bit too big of a mountain to climb.

Season Records:

Andy: 9-3 (6-3 B1G))
Dave: 10-2 (7-2 B1G)
Kevin:
Zach: 11-1 (8-1 B1G)

Our Projected Big Ten Standings:

Andy Dave Zach Kevin
Big Ten East
1
2 Michigan State Michigan Michigan Michigan
3 Penn State Penn State Michigan State Michigan State
4 Michigan Michigan State Penn State Penn State
5 Indiana Indiana Indiana
6 Maryland Maryland Maryland
7 Maryland  Indiana
Big Ten West
1 Wisconsin Iowa Wisconsin Wisconsin
2 Iowa Wisconsin Iowa Nebraska
3 Nebraska Nebraska Nebraska Iowa
4 Minnesota Minnesota Northwestern
5 Minnestoa
6 Purdue Minnesota
7 Purdue Purdue  Purdue

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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