Tearing apart my terrible preseason predictions for Michigan football

Preseason article predicted 8-4 record for Wolverines

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh celebrates with his team after the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game against Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Indianapolis. Michigan won 42-3. (AJ Mast, The Associated Press 2021)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – You win some, you lose some. For me, I’m taking a big “L” on my preseason Michigan football predictions, because the Wolverines won a lot more often than I expected.

Coming into the 2021 season, I saw a program on a three-year decline, a coach with a new contract that made it easier to part ways, and an exceedingly difficult schedule.

As a result, I predicted Michigan to finish the regular season 8-4. Obviously, that’s not even close to what happened.

Click here to read all of my preseason Michigan football picks (please don’t).

Here’s an excerpt from that article:

Unlike in years past, Jim Harbaugh’s team will begin 2021 completely under the radar. Thanks to a 2-4 record last season and a complete overhaul of the coaching staff, the Wolverines are unranked in the preseason polls.

Maybe it’s better that way.

Michigan has the talent to overachieve this year, but a lot has to fall into place. Can Cade McNamara be a quality Big Ten quarterback? Will a younger coaching staff have success reviving a defense that was torn to shreds a year ago?

Yes. The answers were yes.

Non-conference schedule

  • Prediction: 3-0
  • Actual result: 3-0

My predictions didn’t really fall off the rails until the second half, but to be fair, picking wins over Western Michigan and Northern Illinois didn’t take a whole lot of courage.

Now, I did pick Michigan to beat Washington, but this little nugget didn’t age particularly well:

Washington is probably a better team than Michigan, but night games at the Big House are an advantage. I don’t feel good about this one, but I’m leaning toward Michigan pulling an upset under the lights.

Those first eight words -- yikes!

Washington turned out to be horrible, losing to FCS Montana in the first week and finishing 4-8.

Let’s just pretend that whole Washington part never existed and celebrate a correctly predicted 3-0 start. Go me!

Right record, wrong picks

  • Prediction for next five games: 4-1
  • Actual result: 4-1 (but not the right 4-1)

At the beginning of my Indiana prediction, I said the following:

I realize at this point I’ve got Michigan at 7-1, which is funny because I don’t consider myself to be particularly high on this team. The schedule just happens to be very back-loaded.

Michigan did, in fact, start the season 7-1, but I can’t take any credit because I had two of the first eight games flipped.

First, I picked Michigan to lose at Wisconsin, and not by a slim margin, either. I had the Badgers winning 31-14, but in reality, it was Michigan that went into Madison and dominated the game.

I also picked Michigan to win on the road at Michigan State.

“I hate trying to predict the Michigan-Michigan State game,” I wrote. “There never seems to be any rhyme or reason to it.”

Well, at least that part turned out to be true. I didn’t think Michigan or Michigan State would be overly impressive this season, but in the end, they combined for a 22-3 record.

So yes, I had Michigan starting 7-1, but I thought Washington and Wisconsin would be good, and Michigan State and Michigan would be average. That’s a solid 0-4. Get ‘em next time!

Disastrous ending

  • Prediction for final four games: 1-3
  • Actual result: 4-0

Here’s where things went really, really wrong. Let’s just rip the band-aid off: I picked Michigan to lose to Indiana, Penn State and Ohio State, and beat Maryland by just one point.

OK, where to begin...

Indiana dominated Michigan last season and started 2021 ranked No. 17 in the country. Well, that turned out to be a farce, as the Hoosiers didn’t win a single game in the Big Ten.

The Penn State game was very close, but I didn’t expect Michigan to be able to win in that environment.

Maryland -- whew. Only missed the winning margin by an even 40 points there.

As for the Ohio State game, here’s what I wrote:

As always, the final game of the regular season will pit Michigan against Ohio State. Even though the Buckeyes are breaking in a new quarterback, they’re the obvious choice to win the Big Ten.

Michigan will host The Game in Ann Arbor for the second time in a row after the 2020 meeting was canceled by COVID.

Former top 50 recruit C.J. Stroud is Ohio State’s starting quarterback, and he’s got all the tools to be the next Heisman Trophy candidate to emerge from Columbus.

The faces change, but the challenge remains the same for Michigan in this matchup. Can the Wolverines overcome a talent gap as well as the mental block that has allowed Ohio State to control the rivalry for decades?

I won’t lie: I thought the blurb might have sounded a whole lot worse when I went back to read it. But still, I predicted a final score of 52-17 in favor of Ohio State, and Michigan completely dominated.

Hassan Haskins #25 of the Michigan Wolverines carries the ball into the end zone for a touchdown in the third quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan Stadium on November 27, 2021 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (2021 Getty Images)

The Ohio State and Indiana games were by far my biggest misses -- and this year, that’s saying something.

At 8-4, I had Michigan going to the Music City Bowl against Kentucky (and losing). I’d say that’s a pretty far cry from a matchup against Georgia in the College Football Playoff semifinal.

For a final tally, I got five of the 12 game predictions wrong, which is nearly half. Throw in that epic miss of a bowl pick, and you’ve got a five-course crow feast.

Michigan proved a lot of people wrong en route to the Big Ten championship and College Football Playoff, and I was definitely one of them.


About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.