Michigan Football: Deciding What Fair Expectations Are This Season – GBMWolverine

There are many factors going into what kind of season Michigan football is destined for. With that in mind, we’ll decide what expectations should be.

Deciding what kind of expectations are realistic for Michigan football this 2017 season is going to be very difficult. Not that it’s ever particularly easy to do, but there are more significant variables than normal that are messing with the equation.

The most obvious of those variables is that the Wolverines are losing 15 starters from last season, including 10 on defense alone. There’s also uncertainty at quarterback (it could be 16 lost starters if Wilton Speight doesn’t win the job again).

New kicker? Yes. New running back? Yes. New wide receivers? Yes. A new defensive backfield? Yes. And the list goes on.

The schedule? It’s fair, as I’ve said, but tough nonetheless.

Phil Steele thinks Michigan will have a hard time reaching its Vegas-predicted nine wins. Bill Connelly’s S&P+ model sees a 9-3 record (with losses to Penn State, Wisconsin and Ohio State). Athlon Sports says 8-4.

The bottom line is you won’t see too many people projecting something worse than 8-4, but you also won’t find anything better than 9-3. So that naturally begs the question: Are these realistic expectations for Michigan this season?

Many of you are probably tempted to say that 8-4, maybe even 9-3, is lowballing it. “Not my Wolverines!” you’re telling yourself. Because most people making their projections are not going on a game-by-game basis (or at the very least, they’re not showing it), I’ll do my best to piece one together.

Here’s what I think most of the 8-4 and 9-3 people are seeing. Keep in mind that this isn’t necessarily my own view.

  • Florida — loss
  • Cincinnati — win
  • Air Force — win
  • @ Purdue — win
  • Michigan State — win
  • @ Indiana — win
  • @ Penn State — loss
  • Rutgers — win
  • Minnesota — win
  • @ Maryland — win
  • @ Wisconsin — win
  • @ Ohio State — loss

Overall: 9-3

The swing games here are the opener against Florida and the road game against Wisconsin. Most people seem more confident that Michigan will lose to Penn State and Ohio State. And if Michigan is going to lose two of those four, it makes sense that it would work out that way.

Do you see a whole lot to argue with there? I certainly don’t. I’ve already made my case for why the Wolverines are not going through a rebuilding effort this season, and I even went so far as to make fun of Phil Steele’s website. But that’s not because I think Michigan is going to win 11 or 12 games this season. A 9-3 finish in the regular season would be OK, though probably a little disappointing, and 8-4 is selling this team short.

So it’s like this: When you see someone saying the Wolverines will finish 9-3, feel free to scrutinize their methods (especially if they’re harping on a hard schedule). But are you going to make a sound argument for 10-2, 11-1 or 12-0? In the case of the latter two, it’s not likely. However, I would definitely say 10-2 can be lobbied for.

There’s a lot of uncertainty heading into this season for the Wolverines. Most of it is very well documented. That alone makes it inherently difficult to assess what realistic expectations should be. We can still do our best, though, and 9-3 looks about right for now.