Phil Steele is the creator of what may be the most popular college football preview magazine every year. This season, he sees big things for the Michigan Wolverines.
UM fans have been waiting for a true breakthrough to national contention since Jim Harbaugh arrived at his alma mater. The program has come close more often than not, but the Wolverines' inability to beat Ohio State under Harbaugh has blocked the team from reaching the Big Ten title game or the College Football Playoff.
Steele thinks that ends in 2019. He recently revealed the Wolverines as one of his College Football Playoff picks, along with annual attendees Alabama and Clemson, as well as Georgia.
In an interview with JOX 94.5 in Birmingham, Phil Steele went into more detail about his Michigan College Football Playoff prediction.
Obviously the Wolverines defense has thrived under coordinator Don Brown, which he acknowledges. It is the offense, which will be fully helmed by former Alabama co-offensive coordinator Josh Gattis, that Steele sees as the big differentiation this season.
“Offensively, I think the offense is going to fit Shea Patterson better than the old offense did,” Steele said. “They’re going to allow Patterson to roll out more, use his mobility and move to more of a spread offense as opposed to the tight ends and the fullbacks. They’ve got the receiving corps. There’s some very exciting guys like Tarik Black there, Donovan Peoples-Jones. The offensive line is a veteran unit. … I think this is the best offensive line they’ve had under Harbaugh.”
The schedule is challenging as usual, with the Big Ten East as stacked as ever, as well as a big rivalry game against Notre Dame. Steele notes that perhaps the three toughest games of the year will be in Ann arbor though.
“They get Notre Dame at home,” Steele said. “They get Ohio State at home. They get Michigan State at home. Harbaugh is 24-4 straight up at home. I just like the overall talent. I think they’re a complete team.”
From there, he has the Wolverines falling to Clemson in the semifinal, a tough way to end the year, but a major step forward for the program, especially if it finally deals Ohio State a loss in the process.