Too-early Michigan football 2023 schedule game-by-game predictions

Michigan football ran through its 2022 regular-season schedule with zero blemishes and finished 13-1. Both are program bests for single-season wins. However, the maize and blue are looking for more in 2023.

The Wolverines blew a prime opportunity to advance to the national championship game. However, they have a young nucleus returning: J.J. McCarthy, Donovan Edwards, Will Johnson, Colston Loveland and Junior Colson. They also have a bevy of seasoned veterans coming back: Blake Corum, Cornelius Johnson, Trevor Keegan, Zak Zinter, Michael Barrett, Kris Jenkins and Mike Sainristil. They are adding some high-profile transfers: Ernest Hausmann, Drake Nugent, AJ Barner, LaDarius Henderson and Myles Hinton. With all that veteran talent, the maize and blue should be considered, at worst, a top-three team nationally.

And that’s not even mentioning Jim Harbaugh returning after another flirtation with the NFL.

We’re still a few months away from spring ball, but we’re taking an early look at the schedule and predicting how it will play out. Here are our game-by-game predictions.

Week 1: East Carolina Pirates

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While outside pundits will certainly rip Michigan football for playing another nonconference schedule featuring three Group of Five programs, East Carolina was at least a solid team in 2022, having gone 8-5. Its losses were to NC State, Navy, Houston, Tulane and Cincinnati, meaning it beat all the teams it was supposed to and lost to those it was supposed to.

The Pirates lose star quarterback Holton Ahlers, who passed for over 3,700 yards in 2022, however. Still, ECU prefers to throw the ball, though its defense is certainly lacking, ranking in the lower quartile this past season.

Prediction: Michigan 52, East Carolina 13

Week 2: UNLV Rebels

Photo: Isaiah Hole

UNLV comes back to The Big House for the first time since 2015, and the Rebels weren’t exactly great in 2022. After starting 4-1, they lost six in a row before beating in-state rival Nevada to finish 5-7. UNLV wasn’t particularly good on either side of the ball, and of the three nonconference foes, this should be the easiest. Expect to see a number of players get a chance to get in the game for the Wolverines.

Prediction: Michigan 48, UNLV 3

Week 3: Bowling Green Falcons

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Bowling Green finished 6-7, but lost to New Mexico State in a bowl game. Coached by a Michigan man, former QB Scot Loeffler, and with former Wolverines safety and wide receiver coach Erik Campbell on staff, there will be a sense of nostalgia with this one. This past season, the Falcons beat Marshall, which beat Notre Dame. So there is a level of scrappiness in this team, but it should be another overmatched opponent. Michigan will see a familiar face: Connor Bazelak transferred from Indiana.

Prediction: Michigan 55, BGSU 10

Week 4: Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Photo: Isaiah Hole

Rutgers has played Michigan tough the past two and a half years, but the maize and blue pulled away in the second half of last year’s game. The Scarlet Knights feature a solid defense and an awful offense. While RU could enter this game full of confidence depending on how the early schedule plays out (Northwestern, Temple, Virginia Tech), it will be overmatched. Still, so was the 2021 team, yet, it was a close game in the end.

Prediction: Michigan 31, Rutgers 17

Week 5: at Nebraska Cornhuskers

Photo: Isaiah Hole

Michigan is the reigning winner of the Bussin’ Bowl, but it has to travel to Lincoln to face a Cornhusker team renewed under new head coach Matt Rhule. He’s bringing in some talent, but there’s no telling how quickly he’ll be able to turn it around. Still, this will be Michigan’s first road game of the season, where anything can happen.

Prediction: Michigan 35, Nebraska 21

Week 6: at Minnesota Golden Gophers

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This is probably the Wolverines’ first real test of the season, but Minnesota will likely take a step back after losing Tanner Morgan and Mo Ibrahim. Still, it will be tough up front, and this will be the first time the Wolverines will play in front of a packed house in Minneapolis since the victory in 2015. Regardless, this will likely be something of a statement game for the maize and blue.

Prediction: Michigan 42, Minnesota 17

Week 7: Indiana Hoosiers

Photo: Isaiah Hole

Indiana has often played Michigan tough, but it does so more often in Bloomington than in Ann Arbor. It will be breaking in a new quarterback and other key pieces, but it will likely already have some big losses: The season opener against Ohio State should set an early tone.

Prediction: Michigan 38, Indiana 10

Week 8: at Michigan State Spartans

Photo: Isaiah Hole

There’s no way Michigan doesn’t take MSU ultra-seriously given what happened in the aftermath of last year’s game. Whereas we’ve seen Michigan get complacent at times in this rivalry, don’t expect that this year. The Spartans will likely be overmatched at every position, but Mel Tucker will be doing as much as he can to get revenge after the brutal loss in Ann Arbor in 2022.

Prediction: Michigan 45, MSU 13

Week 10: Purdue Boilermakers

Photo: Isaiah Hole

A rematch of the 2022 Big Ten Championship game, Purdue enters without Jeff Brohm at head coach and quarterback Aidan O’Connell. Still, Ryan Walters, the new coach who comes aboard after a successful stint as Illinois’ defensive coordinator, slowed the Wolverines last year. The question is: Will he have the personnel to produce a similar result?

Prediction: Michigan 28, Purdue 14

Week 11: at Penn State Nittany Lions

Photo: Isaiah Hole

The good news for Michigan is this is too late in the season for this to be a night game unless the Wolverines agree to it, which they won’t. The bad news is any new talent the Nittany Lions are working in, such as QB Drew Allar, will have essentially gone through a whole season and will not be too inexperienced by this point. Happy Valley is one of the hardest venues to play in across the country, but Jim Harbaugh has two wins in four tries there. Though Penn State has relatively equal talent, we saw how that worked out last year.

Prediction: Michigan 35, Penn State 31

 

Week 12: at Maryland Terrapins

Photo: Isaiah Hole

This is, yet again, the trap game of the season for the Wolverines, with another penultimate regular season matchup in College Park. Maryland returns QB Taulia Tagovailoa, who gave the Wolverines fits last year. However, the last time Michigan traveled to Maryland, it won with ease. But the same didn’t happen for Ohio State last year, so there’s no telling what will happen.

Prediction: Michigan 42, Maryland 28

Week 13: Ohio State Buckeyes

Photo: Isaiah Hole

Donovan Edwards is still running. And, God willing, Michigan will have a healthy Blake Corum available this time around. Ohio State’s defense didn’t hold up to scrutiny last year, despite the hire of Jim Knowles to ‘fix’ that side of the ball. Michigan returns the bulk of its talent whereas OSU loses star QB CJ Stroud, who never beat the Wolverines. No matter who’s at the helm for the Buckeyes, they’ll have all the pressure on them, and with this one being at home, Michigan extends its win streak to three in a row.

Prediction: Michigan 48, Ohio State 20

Final

Photo: Isaiah Hole

Opponent

U-M Result

Week 1

East Carolina

W

Week 2

UNLV

W

Week 3

Bowling Green

W

Week 4

Rutgers

W

Week 5

at Nebraska

W

Week 6

at Minnesota

W

Week 7

Indiana

W

Week 8

at MSU

W

Week 10

Purdue

W

Week 11

at Penn State

W

Week 12

at Maryland

W

Week 13

Ohio State

W

Final

12-0

Story originally appeared on Wolverines Wire