2018 is a crucial year for Michigan and Jim Harbaugh.

The Wolverines get things started right off the bat with a matchup against Notre Dame on September 1. We’re going to find out really quickly just who Michigan is this season.

FOX Sports analyst and former Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn thinks Michigan’s defense gives them a chance to become a College Football Playoff contender, but it all depends on how things go Week 1.

“Defense, they return eight starters,” Quinn told WolverinesWire.com. “Don Brown should be able to keep the standard that he set there, getting this team to play at a high, high level defensively. Whether it’s with the studs they have up front, led by Gary, or the two cornerbacks – Lavert Hill and David Long are two of the better cornerbacks in college football, especially as a tandem.

“But there’s a lot of talent on this defense. I think this team – depending on how things go against Notre Dame, could all of a sudden be one of the teams we’re talking about in consideration for playing in the College Football Playoff.”

Of course, in order for Michigan to become a playoff contender, the QB position has to be an asset. Talk centers around Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson to become the game one starter, and Quinn thinks Patterson under center will open things up for UM.

“But he can make all the throws,” Quinn said. “He’s got a live arm. He’s got the ability to throw with touch – but with pace … Again, I think he’s going to open up a lot of things for this offense this season.”

The long-time rivals kick off September 1 at 7:30 p.m. on NBC.