The Wolverine

2020 Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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BY AUSTIN FOX AND CLAYTON SAYFIE T he Wolverine spoke with five na- tional college football writers — Bill Bender of Sporting News, Steven Lassan of Athlon Sports, Chip Patterson of CBS Sports, and Adam Rittenberg and Tom VanHaaren of ESPN — prior to the season to get their takes on Michigan heading into the 2020 campaign, as well as Jim Harbaugh's first five years at the helm in Ann Arbor and more. Here's what they said (some answers may have been lightly edited for length or clarity): What is your record prediction for Michigan football in 2020 and why? Bender: Another 10-2 season is reason- able if the Wolverines take care of business in a tricky road opener at Washington. That's a season tone-setter in the mold of those past season openers at Notre Dame. The rest of the schedule sets up well. Harbaugh is 4-0 against Penn State and Wisconsin at The Big House, and three of those games weren't close. The back-to-back road trips to Minnesota and Michigan State will show whether this team is tough enough to win the Big Ten, and provided there are no slip-ups another division title shot comes at The Shoe against Ohio State — where the Wolverines haven't won since 2000. For those who can't remember, Drew Henson was the quarterback in that game. Lassan: I like Michigan to finish 9-3 and third in the Big Ten East division this fall. The schedule is tough for a team breaking in a new quarterback and four new starters on the offensive line, so it's tough for me to see them getting to double-digit victories. The task of rebuilding the trenches and settling the quarterback battle got even tougher with the cancellation of spring prac- tice. However, the defense should still rank among the best in the Big Ten, and there's plenty of talent at the skill positions for the new quarterback to utilize. The Wolverines take on Penn State, Wis- consin, Ohio State and Minnesota — all top- 25 teams by Athlon Sports — and face a road trip at Washington to start the year. Getting the Nittany Lions and Badgers at home early in the season is huge, and the second-half slate is considerably more favorable, allow- ing this program to build momentum before the finale in Columbus. Michigan has won at least nine games in four out of five years under Harbaugh. I think the Wolverines will find a way in this space once again in 2020. BURNING QUESTIONS National College Football Writers Discuss Jim Harbaugh, His Tenure And Preview Michigan's 2020 Season Jim Harbaugh is still a figure that splits na- tional college football media and fans alike. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL 48 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2020 FOOTBALL PREVIEW

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