The Wolverine

2022 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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4 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2022 FOOTBALL PREVIEW T he earth shook for Michi- gan football last Nov. 27. Television screens de- picted gently falling show, but make no mistake — an earth- quake unfolded. Michigan's 42-27 win over Ohio State reverberated in the Big Ten, and nationally. It un- locked everything the Wolverines dreamed about since the day Jim Harbaugh walked in the door. Rivalry pride restored? Check. Big Ten championship? Check. A spot among college football's final four? Sealed like an Aidan Hutchinson sack on C.J. Stroud. Suddenly, roles reversed. Ohio State fans — always ready to eat their own — reviled the crew that lost to The Team Up North. Hutchinson, David Ojabo, Has- san Haskins, Cade McNamara and the rest of the Wolverines carved their names forever into the history of this titanic series. Great, you say. But that's over. Turn the page. We all celebrated, but you have to look forward. What's the point of dwelling on last year, sweet as it may have been? That's easy. Last year holds the key to this year, and maybe ev- ery year. Beat Ohio State, and all doors burst wide open. Apply the lessons that broke the Buckeyes — greater toughness, a man-handling offensive line and a relentless, quarterback-harassing de- fense — and the encore becomes not only a possibility, but predictable. McNamara, Michigan's senior quarter- back, isn't interested in a step backward. He felt the rising heat in unprecedented fashion for the Wolverines last November, enough to sizzle the snow right off winged helmets. He wants to feel it again. They all do. McNamara won't live in the past and desper- ately desires to create the future. "Now that it's a new season, a new year, I haven't really allowed myself to think about what happened last year, unless it's been brought up to me," he said. "I'm well aware that we have to go into The Shoe, and we've got to come out with a W. I'm going to do everything I can to make sure we do that." The Wolverines, featuring a loaded of- fense and a retooling defense, enjoy a favor- able-enough schedule to march into Colum- bus undefeated next Nov. 26. And if they slip up — perhaps at Iowa, heaven forbid against Gang Green again — they could still have everything on the line when they square off against the Buckeyes. It won't be easy. Ohio State felt the re- verberations as well — bitterly and angrily. Their players will get nasty reminders every day between now and the next meeting, and really don't require any. "Now you've got a pissed-off Ohio State team," pointed out former U-M All-Amer- ican Dr. Chris Hutchinson, father of a key 2021 Buckeye basher. "They were ridiculed. In their circles, that's the class that got em- barrassed and couldn't keep it going. From the Michigan perspective, it's these guys aren't invincible. There's no reason we can't do it again." McNamara stands fully on board there. "We decided enough is enough," he re- called. "We needed to do something differ- ent. We need to do it this year, too. "We put ourselves in a posi- tion that we had earned enough confidence from ourselves, that we were capable. Once we were settled into the game, we were well aware that we could take them down. "We need to replicate that this year. We need to work even harder. We're going to go into a hostile environment this year." They need to go in nutcrack- ers at the ready. McNamara ear- lier noted other Michigan teams hoped to beat Ohio State. Last year, the Wolverines set aside hope with a hostile takeover. "Hoping not to lose is not an approach," assured Doug Skene, a former Michigan offensive line- man who, like the elder Hutchin- son, won five Big Ten titles and never lost to the Buckeyes. "You talk to the greatest ath- letes of any sport, I don't care who it is. They're not showing up at The Masters, an NBA champi- onship or an NHL Stanley Cup hoping not to lose. "I guarantee you, those teams and those individuals that win, they're saying, 'Stand back and watch this!' That's the mentality. 'Get out of my way, because I'm about to just destroy this place.'" McNamara stands ready to lead that charge. He welcomes the tough games, in- sisting they hardened the Wolverines who were already primed for the fight. "A big part [of the success against Ohio State] was that we were put into similar situ- ations all year," McNamara said. "Whether it was at Nebraska, Penn State, Michigan State. We saw everything we needed to see and had been in every situation to be pre- pared for that game. "In a way, Ohio State lacked that. Those super-close games, even the loss to Michigan State, prepared us for the Ohio State game itself. Being in those difficult situations be- fore really helped us react when we found ourselves in that situation again." So, bring it on, the Wolverines insist. They're ready to shake things up again. ❏ WOLVERINE WATCH JOHN BORTON Recreating The Buckeye Buster Holds The Key To 2022 Editor John Borton has been with The Wolverine since 1991. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @JB_Wolverine. Quarterback Cade McNamara and his U-M teammates exulted in their 42-27 victory against Ohio State in 2021. The challenge for 2022, said the senior quarterback, is significant. "We need to work even harder. We're going to go into a hostile environment this year," he said. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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