I will be doing these in-depth looks at most teams on OSU's schedule and some of the elite teams across the country. I like doing them so I have a better understanding of teams and season win totals are easy bets if you are able to look at teams objectively. I was going to do some research regardless so I figured I'd put it on here. Last year I was very accurate with win totals taking the over on PSU, Minnesota, and OSU while taking the under on Nebraska and Michigan State. Most talking heads don't understand recruiting and player development well enough to talk about teams in the preseason. I am going to start with Michigan and every player with a decision to make has made it.
- QB-Should be Dylan McCaffrey and likely an upgrade over Shea Patterson. McCaffrey is bigger and much faster than Shea and will be a true dual-threat QB. Shea struggled throwing the ball at times this year and I really expect McCaffrey to be a big upgrade over Patterson. Rumor was the locker room was really divided at the start of the year over if McCaffrey should have been starting until he got injured. Joe Milton is very talented and could challenge for the job but McCaffrey has been there longer.
- RB-This should be the most improved group for Michigan. Charbonnet will be back and should be much better with an entire offseason. Hasan Haskins is also back and should benefit from focusing on RB as he had moved from LB. Also Chris Evans will be reinstated. Michigan will have 3 good backs after questions heading into the season. The only question is how much can these three improve.
- WR-Nico Collins is coming back and was probably their best receiver despite DPJs talent. Nico was simply more productive and is a big mismatch against college corners due to his size. Leading receiver Ronnie Bell will be back as well. Giles Jackson showed a lot of athleticism and Cornelius Johnson is a 6'2" top 175 player entering his sophomore year. DPJ only had 34 catches this past year so I could really see the group as a whole improving despite the loss. Nico Collins and Ronnie Bell will lead the way.
- Offensive Line-This is where it gets tricky for Michigan. They will lose 4 starters inlcuding Cesar Ruiz and Ben Bredeson who were very good. LT-Ryan Hayes is a former 4 star but is similiar to NPF where he really needed to gain weight coming in at 270. Should be solid as he is a good athlete and will have the weight added by now in his third year. LG-Karsen Barnhart is another 4 star who will be solid but likely not as good as Bredeson was. C-This position is most in question but Zach Carpenter seems to be the leader, a 6'5" sophomore again will be solid but not better than Cesar Ruiz. RG-Andrew Stueber another low 4 star in his fourth year should be solid. RT-Jalen Mayfield is the only returning starter. This is a huge line and when going against non-OSU caliber lines should really do well. Ed Warriner is a very good Oline coach and they have a good strength and conditioning program. However the top end talent in the middle won't be there.
Verdict-Similar but trending down
- TE-Starter Nick Eubanks chose to return. at 6'5" 255 he is a well built TE that is just really good not much else to say. He isn't a star but he can do anything and should improve in his fifth year
- Offense-Despite how many starters they are losing the offense shouldn't take a step back. Year 2 in the new system should really help as they did better as the season went on. A whole offseason for Gattis to improve is big. It all hinges on the QB though as McCaffrey(or Milton) need to be improved over what Shea was. If McCaffrey can add a dimension with his legs this offense could improve quite a bit. The biggest problem I see is the lack of elite talent. Charbonnet is really good but his speed isn't scary, Nico Collins is the best skill player but he also doesn't have good speed. It is hard to see where the explosive plays will be coming from. I expect the offense to be slightly better next year from where it ended against OSU. This will seem like a huge improvement though because they will be at that level all year instead of just at then end.
- Defensive End-Kwity Paye and Aiden Hutchinson will return. Hutchinson is very good and one of the better DEs in the B1G. Kwitty Paye is also a solid player. slight improvement with both starters back
- Defensive Tackle- Starter Carlo Kemp is back and former 5 star Chris Hinton will likely also be starting. Hinton living up to the hype will be huge for the line. This could be one of the best defensive lines in the B1G. The whole Dline should be slightly better.
- Inside LBs-MLB-Cam McGrone will be very good in his first year starting. WLB Josh Ross was hurt this year but these two combined in the middle should be very good. They are both really athletic and older for first year starters. This is another position with little depth.
- Outside LBs-These are the only two positions that don't seem to be clear going into the offseason. These positions are very different in the Michigan defense, SAM is somewhat of a rushing LB and their Viper is a safety/LB hybrid. Regardless I expect both positions to take a step back because Khaleke Hudson and Josh Uche were very good here.
- Corners-Ambry Thomas and Vincent Gray should be the starters. This is a fine duo that will do well in B1G play but could get abused by a team like OSU. Gray wont be at the level of Lavert Hill. Moderate step back.
- Safety-Dax Hill in year 2 will shine and will be the best safety in the B1G he is a stud. Brad Hawkins was also a starter last year and pretty solid. Hawkins is in the same mold as the corners though, he lacks the top end talent to hang with elite players OSU would show up with.
- As a whole the defense should also be in a similar position. The defensive line will improve quite a bit but the decrease in productive from the Sam/Viper positions is a concern. What they lose from corner talent is probably made up for in Dax Hill playing every snap at safety. I again expect them to play well all season but the talent isn't where it was in 2016/2018 and OSU should steamroll this defense.
The best way to bet season win totals is come up with totals on your own before you see the number. Next start with automatics. I have them at 7-2 losing to PSU/OSU and beating MSU in games that wont change.(I am very high on PSU) That leaves @Washington, Wisconsin, @Minnesota. An additional thing to consider is Wisconsin,PSU,@MSU,@Minnesota are all in a row. This is a very hard schedule. I think the win total will be between 8.5-9.5 with it likely being set at 8.5. That would mean Michigan could lose to OSU/PSU and go 2-1/1-2 in the other three.10-2 is on the table though but that is the ceiling. Washington loses their QB/RB/and top 3 receivers after a bad season. I think it is likely Michigan wins @Washington and starts the rough stretch by beating Wisconsin. If this numbers ends up at 8.5 I will take the over. There will be some post-hype value after Michigan didn't live up to expectations and losing Shea, DPJ, and 4 lineman along with every linebacker will be overvalued. I wouldn't touch a total of 9. If Vegas thinks Michigan will win @Washington fairly easy this total could move to 9.5 which would make this interesting. Betting under 9.5 would mean Michigan has to lose one to @Washington,Wisconsin,@Minnesota or have a crazy upset. Right now I don't think I would bet a 9.5 number because 10-2 is very hard with this schedule but I don't want to bet on Michigan losing to teams I think they are better than. 9-3 is the most likely scenario but 10-2 would happen before 8-4.