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Unlike most Ann Arbor years, the off-season doesn’t see much optimism about Michigan football.
Yes, there was such a thing as a coaching overhaul, but after a dying 2020 campaign, the fan base isn’t exactly expecting a big season for the Wolverines. While Corn and Blue tend to beat Penn State and Wisconsin every two years, they’ve lost two in a row to both and are now both back on the road. Not to mention, they didn’t stand a chance against rival Ohio State.
But games are played for a reason. Aside from Shea Patterson taking the reins at QB in 2018, little expected the Wolverines to battle for the Big Ten and beyond until the last week of the regular season in 2017 was a game away. So when it comes to picking a Dark Horse candidate to make it into the College Football Playoffs in 2021, the Big Ten representative for 247Sports is actually Michigan.
There is much for Jim Harbaugh to prove in 2021. The Michigan Wolverines are poised to have a better quarterback game for the coming season and appear to have stabilized. The Big Ten East is still operated by Ohio State, however, and Penn State looks like they’re recovering too. But Harbaugh has a new life on a new contract after the 2020 season. If they can finally beat Ohio State, it should mark their victory over the division and reach the Big Ten Championship. Of course, they need a loss or less for the playoffs this year. It’s basically who can beat Ohio State and that was it for the Big Ten, but whoever comes from the east is the likely champion in the end and doesn’t rule out the Wolverines, especially if they’re quarterbacking the youth movement Adopt JJ McCarthy.
“(Five Star Newbie Quarterback) JJ McCarthy is the key. We can talk about Josh Gattis at OC, ”said Josh Pate, host of 247Sports Late Kick. “We can talk about Harbaugh as head coach. It’s JJ McCarthy. I mean, it’s not rocket science out here. You have to get the right quarterback in. They think they did. I, for the record, agree. I think this is the best chance you ever had. The problem is that he’s a real newbie. So if we’re talking about something that we have to prove this year, he has to have a great season as a true newbie. “
Of course, reaching the playoffs would mean beating Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin, and Washington in week 2. It is possible, but it will take a great turnaround. And while 247Sports rationale surrounds JJ McCarthy, Michigan is more likely to either start incumbent Cade McNamara or transfer Alan Bowman in the coming season.
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