Can the Michigan Wolverines win the national championship this season? Several factors are working in their favor.
Why Michigan Can Win the CFP National Championship
Last season, J.J. McCarthy completed his first full season as the starting quarterback for the Wolverines. He threw for 2,719 yards with 22 touchdowns and only five interceptions. He also rushed for 306 yards and scored an additional five touchdowns. McCarthy also showed he was not afraid of the bright lights as he not only led Michigan to an undefeated regular season but came up big against Ohio State at the horseshoe and in the B1G championship game against Purdue.
The sky is the limit for McCarthy as he is a Heisman candidate and a certain future pro. Now we will find out if he can get Michigan over the playoff hump and bring a title to Ann Arbor. This will likely be his last shot at the collegiate level as there is a very good chance he will jump to the NFL next season.
Running Back Duo
Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards make up what is arguably the best running back duo in all of college football. Corum, like McCarthy, is also a Heisman candidate and probably has a better chance to bring home the hardware.
Before getting hurt in the Illinois game and then missing the rest of the regular season against the Buckeyes, the B1G championship game, and the playoff loss to TCU, Corum piled up 1,463 rushing yards to go along with 18 rushing touchdowns. While not a big pass-catching threat out of the backfield, he is a very effective downhill runner who can be difficult for defenders to find due to his small stature.
The other part of this dynamic duo is, of course, Donovan Edwards. He also managed to have his share of injuries last season, yet still ran for 991 yards, seven touchdowns, and had an astonishing 7.1 yards per carry. Edwards is also more of a pass-catching threat than Corum and can get deep into the secondary when needed. He also threw a 70-yard dime for a touchdown against Iowa in 2021 in Michigan’s first-ever appearance in the B1G championship game.
Edwards recently said he hopes that he and Corum will be on the field at the same time for the Wolverines. Opposing coaches are hoping that Harbaugh and company weren’t listening as that presents a nightmare scenario.
You have to have depth to win a national championship. Injuries are unpredictable and fortunately for Michigan, they have plenty of depth.
Incoming three-star running back Benjamin Hill should see playing time in the first four games to show what he has. Expectations are that he can fill in admirably if either of the dynamic duo has to miss time.
Wide receivers Peyton O’Leary, Tyler Morris, and Cristian Dixon are capable backups to Cornelius Johnson, Roman Wilson, and Darrius Clemons. The depth will be needed as Ronnie Bell and Luke Schoonmaker (tight end) have departed.
The offensive line is loaded and considered one of the top units in the nation. Capable backup quarterback Jack Tuttle transfers in from Indiana to provide a steady hand if McCarthy goes down. Freshman Alex Orji is an exceptional athlete who poses an intriguing option if necessary. He could see time like Hill early in the season as the first four games don’t appear to pose any problems.
On the defensive side of the ball, Derrick Moore, Kenneth Grant, and Rayshaun Benny will be able to fill out the rotation on the line. Starter Kris Jenkins has bulked up and Grant has slimmed down to 339 lbs.
The secondary may be the best in college football. Two of the Wolverines safeties are ranked in the top ten in their positions nationally. At the corner position, Will Johnson and Mike Sainristil also crack the top ten nationally. As many as 12 players could see meaningful time in the secondary.
During last year’s regular season, only two games were in doubt going into the fourth quarter. The Illinois game in Ann Arbor was a nail-biter down to the end against an inspired Illini team that brought their defense to The Big House. The game against Ohio State turned into a blowout late after Edwards pulled off two long touchdown runs and the defense shut the Buckeyes out in the fourth quarter.
The BIG championship game was somewhat competitive but never really in doubt. Then came the playoff game against TCU. After a disastrous first half, the Wolverines came out swinging in the second half and quickly made it a close game. However, the Michigan defense couldn’t stop the Horned Frogs and the season ended in defeat.
This year, all of the talk is about winning a national championship. That means anything less will be viewed as a disappointment. This year, the Wolverines have everything they need to get it done.
That’s right. The guy who has never won the big one. The guy who lost his only Super Bowl appearance as a head coach and who is now 0-2 in the College Football Playoff.
Harbaugh has the memory of an elephant. The fan base tried to run him own of town after the disastrous COVID season even though they were begging for him to return after the Brady Hoke years. Now Harbaugh has just been given a temporary “get out of jail free” card for CheeseburgerGate. Whether Harbaugh did anything wrong and then lied about it, we all know he doesn’t like to be accused of anything publicly that doesn’t put him in the best light.
Speculation is already running rampant that he will leave Michigan before next season when the NCAA might really lay down the hammer. It may be now or never for him to hoist the national championship trophy and bring it back to Ann Arbor. Don’t bet against him.