ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Seventh-ranked Michigan begins its quest for a first appearance in the College Football Playoff when it kicked off the 2019 season at home against Middle Tennessee State on Saturday.
Michigan earned a 40-21 win thanks to three touchdown passes from senior quarterback Shea Patterson.
"Middle Tennessee (is) one of the nine bowl teams we play this year and I have great respect for them," Harbaugh told reporters. "They played in the (Conference USA) championship game last year and coach (Rick) Stockstill has done a great job with the program." Michigan will feature a new spread offense after luring Josh Gattis, who will assume play calling duties for the first time, away from Alabama, and hopes his new 'speed in space' philosophy provides big results with one of the most talented wide receiver corps in the nation at his disposal. While big things are expected out of the new-look offense, there are question marks about the defense, which must replace linebacker Devin Bush and defensive end Rashan Gary, who were both selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. Middle Tennessee State returns 11 starters from last season's team which dropped a 27-25 decision to UAB in the championship game and hopes to enhance its reputation as a giant killer by knocking off a Power 5 opponent for the sixth time since 2008.
ABOUT MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE (2018: 8-6)
Sophomores Asher O'Hara and Chase Cunningham are competing with JC transfer Randall Johnson for the starting quarterback job after Brent Stockstill exhausted his eligibility. Ty Lee will provide a security blanket for the winner of the quarterback battle as the senior wide receiver is the nation's active leader in catches (213) and brings a 40-game reception streak into the new season. "We have a huge challenge in front of us playing Michigan as they have great players and the history and tradition speaks for itself," Standstill told reporters. "We're going to go up there, roll up our sleeves and compete for 60 minutes."