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247's JC Shurburtt Thinks Michigan Could Be A Playoff Contender

Michigan's band playing on the field.

ANN ARBOR, MI - NOVEMBER 4: The Michigan Marching Band performs during the NCAA football game between the Ball State Cardinals and the Michigan Wolverines on November 4, 2006 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michigan won 34-26. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Jim Harbaugh and his Michigan Wolverines could use a big season. One college football recruiting expert thinks it could come this fall.

Harbaugh's program took a step back in 2017, after a strong first two seasons. The Wolverines were 11-3 in 2015 and 2016, and finished in the top 12 of both polls in each of those years.

In 2016, Michigan was a real threat to crack the College Football Playoff. The Wolverines were third in the CFP rankings from Weeks 9 through 12, and finished two spots outside of the four-team field when it was selected.

In 2017, after losing a number of key starters, Michigan slid back to 8-5, with a loss in the Outback Bowl. On paper, it is understandable given the team's attrition, but considering the base of the roster is now made up of Harbaugh recruits, the slide has annoyed Michigan fans.

The Michigan Wolverines aren't being floated as huge College Football Playoff contenders, but 247's JC Shurburtt could see it happening. It all depends on Shea Patterson's status.

The quarterback position has been the trouble spot for Michigan under Harbaugh. Patterson was developing into one of the nation's best college quarterbacks before his departure from Ole Miss after the NCAA penalties for the program's scandal came down.

On his podcast with ESPN's Mike Morgan, Shurburtt said that if Patterson is deemed eligible right away, Michigan could win the conference and make the College Football Playoff. From the discussion:

"If they can get Shea Patterson eligible and he's healthy next year, Michigan is going to be a top 10 team. Michigan is going to compete for the Big Ten Championship and a College Football Playoff berth. They're too good on defense; they replaced 10 defensive starters on last year's team, and then they had one of the best defenses in the country again. Don Brown, their defensive coordinator, wizard. He had the No. 1 defense in the country at Boston College.

So they're going to be good on defense regardless, they have some good young players on offense, they just did not have a quarterback."

Here is the full podcast. Michigan talk begins around 42-minutes in.

The two go into more detail about what the Jim McElwain addition means to the staff. As they note, McElwain's issues at Florida were also very much quarterback-based.

Patterson's status is incredibly important for a number of big names at Michigan. The NCAA's decision on he and the other Ole Miss transfers could have huge ramifications for this season.

[JC and Morgan Podcast]