Michigan football: Win or lose vs. Georgia, Wolverines' relevance won't be short-lived
Clearly, a victory against Georgia is the goal for Michigan.
It’s not like the No. 2 Wolverines would be fine with falling flat New Year’s Eve against the No. 3 Bulldogs during the 2021 Capital One Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami — they haven’t come this far to stop now, right?
But realistically, win or lose, Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan will come out on top after the College Football Playoff semifinal. They’ll either win, and continue riding this wave of momentum, or they’ll lose and plan to regroup for the 2022 season. Either way, the Wolverines have re-emerged as a college football power. The 2021 season wasn’t some flash-in-the-pan for Harbaugh.
Yes, it’s taken 7 seasons for UM to finally reach the Promised Land. But it was close in 2016. There were a few instances that kept the 2018 and 2019 teams out of contention. Coming to fruition, the championship recipe has been pinpointed in Ann Arbor. There is no reason to think that Harbaugh won’t replicate this season’s results in the future.
Three high-end recruits after OSU/B1G title
Michigan has become a big name in college football, once again, and momentum from its victories against Ohio State and Iowa have trickled its way into the recruiting trail — not only during this cycle, but for the 2023 cycle as well.
The Wolverines have pledges from 4-star LB Raylen Wilson, 4-star DL Joel Starlings, 3-star WR Semaj Morgan and 3-star K Adam Samaha. As of right now, 247Sports ranks UM’s 2023 class at No. 7 in the nation and No. 2 in the Big Ten.
Good shape heading into 2022
Due to the departure of starters Andrew Vastardis, Andrew Stueber and Ryan Hayes, Michigan’s offensive line will need retooling next season. With that said, UM pulled a major score via the transfer portal by landing Olusegun Oluwatami, a C/OL from Virginia — that addition should help the transition.
But here’s something else: Harbaugh has his man at QB. Cade McNamara went 11-1 in the regular season, threw 4 picks in 379 attempts and completed 63.9 percent of his passes.
In years past, the QB situation wasn’t always so concrete. Yeah, Harbaugh had starters such as Wilton Speight and Shane Patterson — both started 2 years — but it always seemed like there was room for one more to possibly be No. 1 on the depth chart. Michigan has freshman JJ McCarthy, who’ll be a solid starter when his time arrives, but there should be no doubt about who’s the man in 2022: McNamara.
Blake Corum will return at running back. So will Donovan Edwards. UM will miss Hassan Haskins, but there are more in the stable. Michigan’s running game has been superb since Harbaugh’s arrival, so there is no reason to think that things will change next season. New faces and names … same results.
Also, star WR Ronnie Bell, who was injured in Week 1, will be back in the mix. With Bell, Roman Wilson and Cornelius Johnson, Michigan easily has one of the best WR groups in the Big Ten.
Outlook vs. B1G heavyweights
Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan State will all have to replace superstars at key positions. That’s how college football works, right? PSU won’t have Jahan Dotson reeling in passes anymore. MSU won’t have Kenneth Walker III running wild over everyone. OSU is losing Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, two of the best Buckeyes WRs in recent memory. The Wolverines will be without All-America DE Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo.
Everyone will have to rebuild in some shape or form.
But when looking closer, it doesn’t appear that Michigan will go through a major overhaul. Next man up, right? That’s how all teams operate, and that’s how Harbaugh has found success in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines seem to always have players ready to step up and fill voids.
Penn State and Ohio State loaded up on recruits. The Spartans secured transfer RB Jalen Berger from Wisconsin. Prepare for another East-heavy Big Ten, led by the usual suspects. And yes, Michigan will be right in that mix too.