The Wolverines have a gauntlet in 2018, and WolverinesWire breaks down which teams will prevent the toughest challenge.
Ranking Michigan Football’s 2018 Opponents
With perhaps the toughest schedule in all of college football, how will Michigan fare in 2018?
That’s a loaded question. Vegas released opening odds on Tuesday, which saw the Wolverines come in fourth overall, with 3/1 odds to win the College Football Playoff. But with three rivalry games, all on the road, 2018 will present Jim Harbaugh with his toughest season to date in Ann Arbor.
WolverinesWire takes a look at the schedule, game-by-game, and ranks Michigan’s opponents in order of perceived difficulty.
12. SMU (home) – week three
Series record: 1-0-0
Last meeting: Michigan 27-16 (1963)
2017 SMU record: 7-6
Why 12th? It’s Sonny Dykes second season with the Mustangs, and SMU opens with a gauntlet. It gets North Texas in Week One, which — okay — but then hosts TCU before traveling to Ann Arbor. It’s a program on the rise, but with a killer back-to-back, it’s not an ideal situation for a team still finding its identity.
11. Western Michigan (home opener) – week two
Series record: 6-0-0
Last meeting: Michigan 34-10 (2011)
2017 WMU record: 6-6
Why 11th? State pride is the only reason why Western Michigan gets the nod as a tougher game than SMU. Michigan has never lost to a directional school in-state, and without P.J. Fleck rowing the boat, the Broncos aren’t as formidable as they were a few short years ago.
10. Rutgers (away) – Week Eleven
Series record: 3-1-0
Last meeting: Michigan 35-14 (2017)
2017 RU record: 4-8
Why 10th? Rutgers came to play in Ann Arbor last season, head coach Chris Ash’s second with the program, the Scarlet Knights vastly improved up on the result from the year previous — a 77-0 drubbing on Rutgers home turf. But Michigan was breaking in a new quarterback in the 35-14 affair in 2017, and the Wolverines should be rolling by Week Eleven. Expect more of the same.
9. Maryland (homecoming) – Week Six
Series record: 6-1-0
Last meeting: Michigan 35-10 (2017)
2017 UM record: 4-8
Why 9th? We’d rank Maryland much higher here, as we thought that D.J. Durkin’s squad had an outside chance at making waves in the Big Ten East a year ago. However, injuries at the quarterback position decimated the Terrapins. This game is at home for Michigan, which is a huge advantage. Until we actually see Maryland take that next step forward, this shouldn’t be much of a contest for the Wolverines.