Big Ten breakdown: Michigan
Coach: Jim Harbaugh, 28-11 entering fourth season at Michigan, 86-38 entering 11th season overall
2017 record: 8-5, 5-4 Big Ten (fourth, East Division), lost to South Carolina 26-19 in the Outback Bowl
Offensive starters returning (9): QB Brandon Peters, RB Karan Higdon, WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, TE Zach Gentry, TE Sean McKeon, OG Ben Bredeson, OG Michael Onwenu, OG Cesar Ruiz, OT Juwann Bushell-Beatty
Defensive starters returning (10): DE Rashan Gary, DT Bryan Mone, DT Aubry Solomon, DE Chase Winovich, LB Devin Bush, LB Khaleke Hudson, CB Lavert Hill, CB David Long, S Tyree Kinnel, S Josh Metellus
Specialists returning (2): PK Quinn Nordin, P Brad Robbins
Returning statistical leaders: Rushing, Karan Higdon 164-994; Passing , Brandon Peters 57-108-2-672-4; Receiving , Grant Perry 25-307; Tackles, Devin Bush 99; Interceptions, David Long 2, Tyree Kinnel 2, Lavert Hill 2
Devin Bush: A returning all-American, the junior linebacker is among 10 players returning with starting experience on the Wolverines’ defense. He combined with returning junior Khaleke Hudson for 27 tackles for a loss and 13 sacks a year ago. Bush led the team with 99 tackles and had eight pass break ups to rank among the Big Ten’s best.
Rashan Gary: One of six junior starters returning on a veteran defense, the 6-5, 281-pound defensive end recorded 12 tackles for a loss and six sacks a year ago. He’s one of the anchors of a front seven which has the potential to rank among the conference’s strongest, teaming with returning starter Chase Winovich at the end position.
Karan Higdon: A strong finish to the 2017 season leaves the one-time Iowa verbal commitment as the expected workhorse in the Michigan backfield. The 5-10, 190-pound Florida native averaged 6.1 yards per carry last season while gaining 994 yards on 164 carries. He’ll team with Chris Evans at the running back spot.
On the rise
Donovan Peoples-Jones: The sophomore figures to be the Wolverines’ next big thing in a deep group of pass-catching possibilities. He caught 22 balls last season for 277 yards, third among a group of the team’s top five receivers in 2017 who all return this season.
Shea Patterson: The Mississippi transfer has two years of eligibility remaining and is competing with sophomore Brandon Peters for the starting role at the controls of the Michigan offense. A 6-2, 203-pound Louisiana native, Patterson threw for 2,259 starts and 17 touchdowns in seven starts last season at Ole Miss.
The big number
1-5: Michigan’s combined record against Ohio State and Michigan State in Jim Harbaugh’s three seasons in Ann Arbor, the source of the rising level of heat the Wolverines’ head coach feels as leads a program which last won a Big Ten title 13 seasons ago. Harbaugh rebuilt the program’s strength and conditioning and nutrition and replaced four assistants during the offseason.
“It’s very exciting at this point and I’m thankful to have a season to gear up for. I’ve talked to some other players or coaches that don’t have a season to gear up for this year. That’s sad. I feel very good to have a season to gear up for.’’ – Jim Harbaugh, Michigan coach
Sept. 1 – at Notre Dame
Sept. 8 – Western Michigan
Sept. 15 – SMU
Sept. 22 – Nebraska
Sept. 29 – at Northwestern
Oct. 6 – Maryland*
Oct. 13 – Wisconsin
Oct. 20 – at Michigan State*
Nov. 3 – Penn State*
Nov. 10 – at Rutgers*
Nov. 17 – Indiana*
Nov. 24 – at Ohio State*
* -- East Division game
Where Michigan ranked in the Big Ten in 2017:
Scoring offense: 23.4 (Seventh)
Rushing offense: 182 (Third)
Passing offense: 157 (11th)
Totals offense: 339 (Ninth)
Scoring defense: 19.4 (Fifth)
Rushing defense: 140 (Seventh)
Passing defense: 148 (First)
Total defense: 289 (Third)
The Wolverines’ record over the last five years:
Eye on Iowa
Michigan 41, Iowa 15, Ties 4
Record in the last five games vs. the Hawkeyes:
2010: Iowa 38, Michigan 28
2011: Iowa 24, Michigan 16
2012: Michigan 42, Iowa 17
2013: Iowa 24, Michigan 21
2016: Iowa 14, Michigan 13