In his article, Bender looks at the Top 25 teams and what each's ideal and not-so-ideal season could look like. For Michigan's best-case scenario, Bender writes: "Jim Harbaugh delivers. The Josh Gattis' hire turns the offense into a machine that spits out 40 points per game around Shea Patterson and his receivers. Zach Charbonnet is the truth at running back, and the defense learns from last year's late-season collapse. Michigan avenges last year's loss toNotre Dame and beats Michigan State at home. Despite splitting road games at Wisconsin and Penn State, the Wolverines takea 10-1 record into The Game, where they break through for the first time in eight years to beat Ohio State. They follow up by beating Nebraska in the Big Ten championship and playing in the Playoff for the first time."
WolverineDigest's Take: Sign me up. For a person that has been fairly critical of the Jim Harbaugh era thus far, I would carry him on my shoulders down a State Street parade. Michigan probably isn't ready to win a national title against the likes of Alabama or Clemson, but 12-1, a win over OSU and a Big Ten title would be an A+ in my book, and such success would help the Maize and Blue elevate its recruiting presence even more to stock its roster with the talent and depth needed to eventually win a playoff game.
Interestingly, Bender's best-possible prediction is how I anticipate forecasting this campaign, a lone loss on the road to Penn State (most likely), Wisconsin (potentially) or Indiana (watch out for the Hoosiers, sandwiched between MSU and OSU in late November), but victories over all three rivals, and a much-anticipated trip to Indianapolis for the conference championship game.
For worst-case scenario Bender writes: "Army upsets Michigan in Week 2. It throws the entire rhythm of the season off, and despite a split in those road games at Wisconsin and Penn State, it gets worse. Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State sweep the Wolverines in the Big House - which drops Harbaugh to 2-10 against those three rivals. Auburn beats Michigan in a lower-tier bowl game, and the six-loss season creates uncharted angst in Ann Arbor."
WolverineDigest's Take: I don't see a 7-6 campaign one bit. Certainly in college football, anyone can win on any given Saturday, but Michigan will enjoy the talent advantage in at least 10 of 12 games this season (and potentially a 11th with Notre Dame). Army is getting a lot of love nationally, but they rely on a methodical offensive attack, and it's the big plays that have hurt U-M's defense in the past and cost the Wolverines wins in key games (think ND and OSU a year ago).
At worst, Michigan goes 8-4, but more likely 9-3, a loss on the road, and a combination of losses to either Michigan State, Notre Dame or Ohio State. And if that were to happen, and there is another L in The Game, no Big Ten title berth ... well, things would get very interesting in Ann Arbor.