The Wolverine

2021 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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50 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2021 FOOTBALL PREVIEW BY CLAYTON SAYFIE T he Wolverine spoke with five college football experts — Bill Bender of Sporting News, Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports, Steven Lassan of Athlon Sports, Dave Revsine of Big Ten Network and Adam Rittenberg of ESPN — early this summer to get their takes on Michigan heading into the 2021 cam- paign, Jim Harbaugh's contract extension, U-M's new assistant coach hires and top position groups, and more. Here's what they said (some answers have been lightly edited for brevity or clarity): What is your record prediction for Michigan football in 2021 and why? Bender: "Michigan is either a 9-3 or 8-4 team, but the perception flows from which teams are those Ls. It hinges on the early season matchup with Washington, which is a tone-setter for the entire Harbaugh win-or- else year. If Michigan wins that game, and they should, then the Wolverines will roll into Wisconsin with a 4-0 record on Oct. 2. "Michigan has lost five straight at Wiscon- sin and has not won at Camp Randall Sta- dium since 2001. That's the ultimate chance for a statement win. It still feels like a loss. "The Wolverines will split with Michigan State and Indiana, and lose at Penn State, and that means an 8-3 team will welcome the Buckeyes on Nov. 27. Unfortunately, that's the only measuring stick that matters now. Michigan will put up a better fight than usual, but the Buckeyes still win. "That's an 8-4 season with a few uncom- fortable losses. It's the same movie heading into 2022. What does that mean for Har- baugh? The same, old debate ensues." Fornelli: "I would say 8-4 at a minimum, 11-1 at best, and 9-3 is most likely. I just don't think Michigan is ready to beat Ohio OUTSIDE POINT OF VIEW College Football Experts Discuss Jim Harbaugh, New Assistant Coaches And Michigan's 2021 Season Harbaugh's four-year contract extension — with a lower base salary and higher em- phasis on performance-based incentives — was viewed as a smart move for both the school and him for various reasons. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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