The Wolverine

2022 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 135 of 163

BY CLAYTON SAYFIE E SPN's Football Power Index gave Michigan a 2 percent chance to win the Big Ten heading into the 2021 campaign. The Maize and Blue defied the odds, culminating with a con- fetti shower in Indianapolis, and made their first-ever College Football Playoff appear- ance, winning 12 games for the third time in program history. Following a dismal 2020 season in which the Wolverines went 2-4 and ended with three straight cancellations due to COVID-19, ex- pectations were lower than ever in Ann Arbor. In his seventh campaign at the helm, head coach Jim Harbaugh made major offseason changes, replacing six of his assistant coaches, including bringing in a new defensive coordi- nator, Mike Macdonald, and overhauling his recruiting staff. A new "vibe" and "energy" surrounded Schembechler Hall, U-M players said, and the wins, fueled by a smashmouth identity, followed. The Wolverines began 7-0, their best start since 2016, highlighted by a 38-17 win at Wisconsin and a 32-29 narrow escape at Nebraska. Adversity finally struck Oct. 30, when U-M blew a 16-point second-half lead at Michigan State and fell, 37-33. The loss, elimi- nating any margin for error down the stretch of the season, felt all too familiar, but this group insisted they were "different." A post- game locker room speech from Harbaugh and a players-only meeting the following Monday helped the Wolverines regroup, and they ran the table from there to the College Football Playoff. Three victories — over Indiana, Penn State and Maryland — led to the showdown with archrival Ohio State, marking the first top-five clash inside The Big House since 2003 and the rivalry's 12th such game over- all. Despite OSU head coach Ryan Day al- legedly proclaiming his team would "hang 100" on U-M, the Wolverines put 42 on the Buckeyes while the snow fell in Ann Arbor Nov. 27. Ohio State scored just 27 points, its lowest scoring mark of the season, validat- ing Harbaugh's decision to tap Macdonald to lead the defense. After its first win over OSU since 2011, U-M kept the momentum going, beating West Division champion Iowa, 42-3, in the Big Ten Championship Game. The Wolver- ines earned the No. 2 seed in the College Football Playoff and a shot at third-ranked Georgia. The Bulldogs were too much to handle, though, and the Dec. 31 game in Miami was all but over at halftime. Georgia won 33-11, before enacting revenge on Alabama — which had beaten the Bull- dogs in the SEC title game — with a 33-18 victory in the national championship game. 2021 2021 THE YEAR IN REVIEW THE YEAR IN REVIEW 2 Percent Was All It Took 134 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2022 FOOTBALL PREVIEW TEAM STATISTICS U-M OPP. Total First Downs 308 238 Rushing 165 96 Passing 121 127 Penalty 22 15 Total Net Yards 6203 4631 Total Plays 969 939 Yards Per Play 6.4 4.9 Yards Per Game 443.1 330.8 Rushing Attempts-Yards 574-3001 484-1769 Yards Per Attempt 5.2 3.7 Yards Per Game 214.4 126.4 Pass Att.-Comp.-Int. 395-248-9 455-258-8 Passing Yards 3202 2862 Yards Per Completion 12.9 11.1 Yards Per Game 228.7 204.4 Punting: No.-Avg. 45-46.3 77-44.1 Fumbles-Lost 16-5 21-8 Penalties-Yards 68-581 73-648 Sacks By-Yds. Lost 34-211 14-111 Third-Down Conversions 87-190 75-217 Conversion Pct. 45.8 34.6 Fourth-Down Conversions 14-27 16-32 Conversion Pct. 51.9 50.0 Avg. Time Of Possession 31:22 28:38 SCORING BY QTR. 1st 2nd 3rd 4th OT Total Michigan 89 141 140 131 0 501 Opponent 36 67 55 85 0 243 Head coach Jim Harbaugh made major changes to the coaching staff in the offseason, then guided his Wolverines to the Big Ten Championship and College Football Playoff. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolverine - 2022 Michigan Football Preview