Michigan Football Preview 2019

Digital Edition

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 127 of 179

126 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2019 FOOTBALL PREVIEW 1. Rutgers The Scarlet Knights went 1-11 last season and have less talent than Michigan's non-con- ference foes. Michigan has not had any prob- lems against Rutgers at home, winning 35-14 in 2017 and 49-16 in 2015. 2. Middle Tennessee State Replacing quarterback Brent Stockstill will be a difficult task for the Blue Raiders. This should be an easy sea- son opener for the Wolverines. 3. at Illinois L o n g t i m e N F L h e a d coach Lovie Smith has not been able to turn around the Illinois program. In the past three seasons, the Illini have gone 4-23 in conference play. A huge improvement isn't to be expected this season. 4. at Maryland T h e Te r r a p i n s have a new head c o a c h i n M i k e Locksley and a new quarterback in Virginia Tech transfer Josh Jackson, but that won't be enough to beat Michi- gan. Going on the road is never easy, but Maryland doesn't have the talent yet to make this a close contest. 5. Iowa The Hawkeyes have one of the nation's best quarterbacks in Nate Stanley and own a two-game winning streak against the Wolver- ines. However, Michigan faces Iowa at home after losing on the road in both 2013 and 2016. 6. Army This will be a tricky contest for the Wolver- ines in the second week of the season. The Black Knights run the triple-option offense, which is difficult to prepare for, and they are receiving top-25 buzz heading into the season. Michigan's offense shouldn't have too much trouble with Army's defense, but the Black Knights' offense could keep this game closer for longer than expected. 7. at Indiana While the Hoosiers aren't necessarily a better team than Iowa or Army, the timing and the location of this game could be troublesome for the Wolverines. This game is sandwiched between Michigan's two biggest rivals, Michigan State and Ohio State, and the Wolverines have barely left Bloom- ington with victories in their last two trips, escaping with seven- point victories that required overtime in both 2015 and 2017. 8. at Wisconsin This will be an early season road test for U-M. Slowing down running back Jonathan Taylor will be a tall task for the Wolverines. The Badgers are replac- ing a lot of talent on defense, so this could be a high- scoring affair. If Michigan can get by Wisconsin, the Wol- verines could enter the middle of October undefeated. It's also worth noting this game follows U-M's first bye. 9. Michigan State While Michigan State lacks the offense of the other top-tier teams in the Big Ten, the Spartans should have one of the best defenses in the country. New offensive coordinator Josh Gattis' scheme will be put to the test Nov. 16. The Spartans will come into Ann Arbor motivated after losing 21-7 in 2018 along with the antics before that contest, but U-M benefits from a bye before this one as well. 10. at Penn State The last time Michigan trav- eled to Penn State, things did not go well. In 2017, the Nit- tany Lions shredded Don Brown's defense, winning 42-13. Without Trace McSorley, Penn State won't be as good as that team, but the "White Out" game is always a signifi- cant challenge (the 2017 matchup served as that season's White Out). 11. Notre Dame The Fighting Irish's Col- lege Football Playoff bid in 2018 was jump-started by a season-opening victory against Michigan. This year, Notre Dame comes to Ann Arbor for what should be another close battle in this rivalry. 12. Ohio State The Buckeyes have won seven straight in this ri- valry. With a chance for the winner to go to the Big Ten title game, Ohio State dominated Michigan 62-39 last season. Although Urban Meyer is gone, there will be plenty of motivation for U-M — while new head coach Ryan Day will have tons of incentive to not be the coach who oversees this series turning back in the maize and blue's favor. Ranking Each Game On Michigan's Schedule From Easiest To Most Difficult Senior safety Alohi Gilman and the Fighting Irish will be vying for back-to- back appearances in the College Foot- ball Playoff this season. PHOTO BY ANGELA DRISKELL

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