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Harbaugh Has Michigan Within Reach Of Greatness

After years of mediocrity, the Michigan Wolverines are primed to ascend to the elite levels of college football this season. Jim Harbaugh turned a team who had gone just 5-7 in 2014 into a powerhouse who went 10-3 last season. The team is loaded with talent and could finally be ready to overtake Michigan State and Ohio State atop the Big Ten.

2016 National Championship Odds

There certainly are high hopes in Ann Arbor, as Michigan is being pegged at +900 to win the national championship – the best odds for any team that did not make the playoffs last season.

The Wolverines have a difficult task, as they will likely need to win the Big Ten to qualify for the postseason. That means they will need to get past both Ohio State and Michigan State just to make it to the Big Ten championship game.

The Wolverines lost by just four points to the Spartans last season and with Michigan State losing quarterback Conor Cook, a regression should be expected. However, Michigan will need to find a way to get past Ohio State, a team that beat them 42-13 to close out last year.

Big Ten Championship Odds

Michigan is only behind favored Ohio State to win the conference. Despite winning the most Big Ten titles in history (42), the Wolverines have not closed a season as the conference champs since 2004.

In order to end the drought, Michigan’s defense will need to continue playing at an exceptional level. That shouldn’t be all that difficult as Harbaugh recruited Don Brown to join his staff as the defensive coordinator after Brown led Boston College to the top-ranked defense in the nation last year.

This defense should be near impregnable this season with Harbaugh and Brown leading the way – and make sure to keep your eye on DB/LB Jabrill Peppers, as he could be the most dominant defensive player in the country this year.

Season Win Total

The current season win total for Michigan is set at 9.5 (-180/+150) and topping that should be fairly doable. First, the Wolverines have a pretty easy non-conference schedule to start the season and likely won’t face a real challenge until October 1 when they host Wisconsin.

The biggest issue facing Michigan is a road slate that features games at Michigan State, Iowa and Ohio State within the final five weeks of the season. If the team can even go 1-2 in those games, surpassing 9.5 wins should be done.

Most Important Players: Offensive Line

The big men are going to dictate this season for Michigan. The team played old school football last season – which meant grinding out the ball and winning with defense – but the team was in bad shape when the rushing attack couldn’t get going. The team went just 1-3 in four games in which they didn’t top 100 yards rushing.

However, the bulk of the starters along the offensive line will be returning and should excel at controlling the point of attack. If that offensive line crumbles, the rushing attack falters and whoever is playing quarterback will be running for their lives.

2016 Michigan Wolverines Futures Odds
MarketOdds
2016 National Championship+900
Big Ten Championship+160
Win Total9.5

Odds as of August 8 at Bovada

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