Michigan is looking to defend its Big Ten championship in 2022.

U-M lost some top defensive talent from its 2021 squad to the NFL. As Jim Harbaugh notes, though, a productive wide receiver corps is mostly back for 2022. ESPN says the key to the Wolverines’ 2022 season is at a different position group.

In its first Power Rankings of the 2022 season, ESPN has Michigan No. 8. ESPN also identifies Michigan’s X factor, defined as the player the season depends on. Tom VanHaaren says Michigan’s X factor is Blake Corum:

Michigan’s run game made the offense go last season, but the team lost running back Hassan Haskins, who led the team with 20 rushing touchdowns in 2021, to the NFL. But it returns Blake Corum, who had 11 touchdowns and 962 yards. Corum, along with Donovan Edwards, will have to take on a bigger load, as Haskins had 126 more carries than Corum last season. If the combo of Corum and Edwards can produce the type of scoring that Haskins and Corum did, Michigan’s offense will be in good shape.

As for Edwards, he has 35 carries for 174 yards and 3 touchdowns along with 20 catches for 265 yards and a TD. Haskins leaves big shoes to fill. We’ll see if Corum and Edwards are up to the task starting in Week 1 against Colorado State.