Michigan's 2016 schedule has been a topic of conversation, both regionally and nationally, in recent days and most of the focus has been on who the Wolverines do not play during the campaign. However, Jim Harbaugh's club must play 12 games and we are here to examine them all.
Today, we will continue our series in previewing (and ranking) Michigan's 12 opponents for the upcoming campaign.. In the first post, Hawaii was the topic and we responded to that with glances at Central Florida, Illinois and Colorado. In this fifth post, we will dive into Maryland and a familiar face in new head coach D.J. Durkin.
As referenced above, there is a new man in charge in College Park, and that comes as a result of a 3-9 campaign a year ago. Maryland endured an eight-game losing streak midseason before ending the year with a victory at Rutgers (hurray!), but the passing offense was a mess and the defense was unspectacular.
What to expect in 2016
Durkin's presence brings real optimism to the table for Maryland, though it should be tempered to some degree in year one. SB Nation's S&P+ projects 5.9 wins for the Terps, while ESPN's FPI projects 5.3 victories. Either would be just fine in terms of improvement, but the big issue for Durkin and his staff will be stabilizing the offense and getting vast improvement at the quarterback position. Under his tutelage, the defense will almost certainly improve (and so will the recruiting), but as with most programs, everything stops and starts under center.
Maryland isn't the fifth-worst team that Michigan faces this season, but the game takes place in Ann Arbor and that swings the pendulum a bit. Most projection systems give the Wolverines an 85+% chance of holding serve at home, and last season's 28-0 drubbing could have been worse. Michigan's defense should have a field day against this quarterback crew, but scoring could be an adventure again. Nonetheless, this should be another win for Harbaugh and company.
Stay tuned as the preseason opponent countdown continues.
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