The Wolverine

2022 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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120 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2022 FOOTBALL PREVIEW 1. Hawai'i — The Rainbow Warriors were bowl eligible last season, but they had a mass exodus to the transfer portal this offseason. Head coach Todd Graham resigned amid con- troversy, and first-time head man Tommy Chang — a former record-setting Hawai'i quarterback — suddenly has a rebuild on his hands with a largely un- proven roster. Michigan will be playing behind a mid-September crowd under the lights, and the Wolverines are 9-2 in night games at The Big House. 2. Connecticut — The Huskies went 1-11 last season and ranked worse than 100th in the nation in all of the eight major statistical categories. The only direc- tion to go is up, though. Newly hired Jim Mora has had success as a head coach both in college and the NFL, and he's got most of the 2021 roster intact, including four of its top five receivers, its leading rusher and top six tacklers. UConn also made a key transfer portal addition in former Penn State quarterback Ta'Quan Robinson. The Maize and Blue should roll before entering Big Ten play the next week. 3. Colorado State — Michigan will get only one chance to make a first impression, and the Wolverines should overwhelm the Rams in Game 1. CSU went 3-9 last season but should be improved under first-year head coach Jay Norvell, who brought double-digit transfers with him from Nevada. The Wolverines are 13-0 against non-Power Five non-conference foes under head coach Jim Harbaugh, and the Rams likely don't have enough firepower to snap that streak Sept. 3. 4. Illinois — Michigan hasn't fallen victim to a true trap game the week before facing Ohio State since 1992, when they tied Illinois, which finished with a 6-5-1 re- cord. The Illini will try to work some similar magic — except there are no ties anymore, of course — and they're building under second-year head coach Bret Bielema, who won three Big Ten championships during his tenure at Wisconsin. The defense and run game are expected to be solid once again, but the Illini better hope Syracuse transfer quarterback Tommy DeVito can inject some life into the aerial attack. 5. Indiana — The Hoosiers have played Michigan tough during Harbaugh's time in Ann Arbor, with two games going to overtime and four of seven being decided by 11 points or fewer. Indiana took a big step back in 2021, though, and is looking to regain the momentum that head coach Tom Allen had previously built. The Hoosiers catch Michigan at an interesting point in the schedule, hosting the Wolverines one week after a marquee matchup at Iowa. They'll hope to catch Michigan sleeping. 6. Rutgers — Head coach Greg Schiano has Rutgers' trajectory pointing up. Last year, the Scarlet Knights won five games for the first time since 2014, and they have reeled in consecutive top-50 recruiting classes per the On3 Consensus. They still have a long way to go to make a climb into the top half of the Big Ten East, though. Rutgers didn't beat an FBS team with a winning record, and just two of its wins in 2021came against Big Ten foes. The Scarlet Knights did give Michigan a scare at The Big House, though, losing 20-13. They get the Wolverines at home this time around, so they won't be a total pushover. 7. Maryland — The Terrapins' defense was a disaster last season and has a lot to figure out, but they're danger- ous in the sense that redshirt junior Taulia Tagovailoa can really sling it. Michigan must keep its focus on Maryland, with a big game at Iowa looming the following week, but should be able to hang a crooked number of points on the Terps and put the pres- sure on Tagovailoa, who's known to force throws and make mistakes. 8. Nebraska — Much like Harbaugh last season, fifth- year head coach Scott Frost took an offseason pay cut and has bet on himself heading into 2022. However, the Corn- huskers still haven't enjoyed a winning season under his watch. They've still got a lot to prove, and this is expected to be his best roster. Michigan won a 32-29 thriller in Lincoln in 2021 and is fortunate to play host this time. If both teams are playing for something meaningful in mid-November, it could get interesting. 9. Penn State — The Nittany Lions are a combined 11-11 during the last two years, and head coach James Franklin is 3-5 overall against Michigan. Still, they pose a real threat, with sixth-year quarterback Sean Clifford, a plethora of offensive weapons and talent on defense, especially in the secondary. OPPONENT OVERVIEW Ranking Each Game On Michigan's Schedule From Least To Most Difficult Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker holds a 2-0 advantage against Michigan. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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