The 2021 Michigan Wolverines team leaves a tough act to follow for the 2022 squad. Defeating rival Ohio State led the Wolverines to the Big Ten title and the Wolverines were a win away from playing for the national title. Five key players, including record-breaking pass rusher Aidan Hutchinson, were selected in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Michigan did see 12 players transfer with 7 being either defensive backs or offensive linemen. The Wolverines weren’t as active as some other Big Ten teams in bringing in transfers although Virginia offensive lineman Victor Oluwantimi and UCF defensive lineman Cam Goode are key additions. Michigan did sign a top 10 recruiting class so it is worth monitoring those incoming freshmen.
Michigan comes in at No. 6 in the American Football Coaches Association poll and eighth in the Associated Press poll so Michigan could well be in the national championship conversation after reaching the College Football Playoffs a season ago. The Wolverines come in at No. 7 in our breakdown of the top 50 teams in the nation heading into the 2022 season.
— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) August 15, 2022
Michigan (+650) is second only to Ohio State in the odds to win the Big Ten championship. Those odds have jumped from +950 since late May according to the college football picks. The Wolverines’ odds to win the Big Ten East Division come in at +375.
Michigan (+5000) is tied for ninth in the odds to win the national championship according to the sportsbook.
- 2021 record: 12-2
- 2021 conference record: 8-1
- Head coach: Jim Harbaugh
- Odds to win conference title: +650
Michigan lost many of its defensive stars to the NFL including the pass-rushing tandem of Hutchinson and David Ojabo as well as safety Daxton Hill.
Leading rusher Hassan Haskins was picked in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans. However, Blake Corum is back after rushing for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns. He averaged 6.6 yards per carry and according to the college football predictions, he has +8000 odds to win the Heisman Trophy. Tavierre Dunlap and Donovan Edwards could have larger roles after they combined for 225 rushing yards as freshmen.
Quarterback Cade McNamara is back after throwing for 2,576 yards and completing 64.2% of his passes. He had 15 touchdown passes and just six interceptions. Reserve quarterback J.J. McCarthy is also returning.
Keep an eye on receiver Cornelius Johnson who led the Wolverines with 39 catches and 620 yards a season ago and the best could be yet to come. Tight end Erick All (38 catches, 427 yards), receiver Mike Sainristil and Roman Wilson are all coming back as well. Running back Donovan Edwards and receiver Andrel Anthony return as Michigan brings back nine of the 11 players who had at least 10 catches in 2021.
Ryan Hayes, Trevor Keegan, and Zak Zinter are returning starters on the offensive line. Potential replacements for the departed starters on the line Chuck Filiaga and Jack Stewart entered the transfer portal. The addition of Virginia transfer Victor Oluwantimi gives Michigan one of the top interior offensive linemen in the country.
There is some work to be done on the defensive side of the ball with the loss of four of the top five tacklers. Heisman Trophy runner-up Aidan Hutchinson leaves a huge hole to fill after recording 14 sacks as a senior. Josh Ross is gone after recording a team-high 106 tackles.
Defensive back Daxton Hill joined Hutchinson as a first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Ojabo likely would have also gone in the first round had he not suffered an Achilles injury at Michigan’s pro day.
Linebacker Junior Colson (61 tackles) is the top returning tackler. Fellow linebacker Nikhai Hill-Green (50 tackles) is also back as are defensive backs R.J. Moten and D.J. Turner.
Mazi Smith is the top returnee on the defensive line. Mike Morris and Kris Jenkins are also back on the line. That position group also added transfer Cam Goode from UCF. He had four tackles for loss and four forced fumbles a season ago.
Six defensive players transferred with defensive backs Sammy Faustin and George Johnson joining former Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown at UMass.
Brad Robbins is back after averaging 46.3 yards per punt. Kicker Jake Moody also returns after going 23 for 25 on field goals and adding 65 touchbacks on kickoffs. A.J. Henning and Corum were the top return specialists. It will be worth watching to see if Michigan curtails Corum’s special teams duties since he is currently viewed as a Heisman Trophy candidate.
Michigan finally figured out a way to top rival Ohio State for the first time since 2011 and despite a loss to Michigan State, the Wolverines not only reached the Big Ten title game but rolled to a 42-3 win over Iowa to win the conference title.
There are returning playmakers on offense so perhaps Michigan will be better on that side of the ball than the team that was second in the Big Ten in scoring offense and third in total offense a season ago.
Michigan is currently favored by 27½ points in the season opener against Colorado State. The Wolverines don’t figure to be tested too much with the non-conference games against the Rams followed by home contests against Hawaii and UConn before opening Big Ten play against Maryland. Having a bye week in between the Penn State and Michigan State games could work out pretty well for the Wolverines.
Something to consider for those who bet online, Michigan covered in eight of the last 10 games during the 2021 season.
The expected regular-season win total of 9½ according to the college football odds features -140 odds for Michigan to go over that total. There are +110 odds for the Wolverines to finish with nine wins or less.
2022 Michigan Schedule
- Sept. 3 vs Colorado State
- Sept. 10 vs Hawaii
- Sept. 17 vs UConn
- Sept. 24 vs Maryland
- Oct. 1 at Iowa
- Oct. 8 at Indiana
- Oct. 15 vs Penn State
- Oct. 29 vs Michigan State
- Nov. 5 at Rutgers
- Nov. 12 vs Nebraska
- Nov. 19 vs Illinois
- Nov. 26 at Ohio State