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Michigan Football: The Ceiling And The Floor For 2023

While a perfect season is certainly a very real possibility for Michigan, it's also possible that the Wolverines could lose a handful of what could be some pretty tough matchups this year.

Expectations surrounding the Michigan Football program are about as high as it gets heading into the 2023 season. With a significant number of returning starters and depth at all positions, most folks around Ann Arbor are thinking national championship or bust. While a perfect season is certainly a very real possibility for Michigan, it's also possible that the Wolverines could lose a handful of what could be some pretty tough matchups this year. 

Here's a look at the best case and worst case scenario for 2023:

The Ceiling: 15-0

Jim Harbaugh, Michigan Football

It took a little longer than most people expected, but Jim Harbaugh has finally built the Michigan Wolverines football program into a legitimate national championship contender. Entering the 2023 campaign, the Wolverines will likely be favored in every single game on the regular season schedule - and that includes the Week 12 matchup against Ohio State. 

The Wolverines return veteran quarterback JJ McCarthy, the best running back duo in the country with Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards, an NFL-caliber offensive line, and a talented defense that is loaded with experience. Put simply, this Michigan team is built to win a national championship now. 

Speaking recently at a pep rally prior to Michigan's annual Spring Game, Harbaugh seemed to echo that sentiment. 

“As we sit here April 1st, 2023, it’s gonna be the best’s the best version of a Michigan football team on April 1st, 2023 that we’ve ever had,” Harbaugh said. “A great roster of players, tremendous coaches all pulling in the same direction. That doesn’t mean we’re not going to have a letdown as the months go on, but this is the best version of football that I’ve seen since I’ve been here the last eight years.”

"This is not the time to regroup or to rest, or to to take a step back. Now’s the time to attack."

The Floor: 9-4

Michigan Football, Raheem Anderson

After a relatively easy start to the year, Michigan will eventually reach a point in the schedule that includes a seven-game stretch with five of those games occurring on the road. To close out the season, Michigan will host Ohio State for the 118th edition of The Game. Add a bowl game into the mix, and it's not all that hard to see a scenario where the Wolverines drop four in 2023.   

Here are the four games that pose the biggest threat to Michigan's 2023 campaign:

at Michigan State (Oct. 21)

While Michigan State is trying to rebound from a difficult 2022 campaign where it finished 5-7 and missed the bowl season altogether, the Spartans do have a way of making life difficult for Michigan throughout the Harbaugh era. In fact, Jim Harbaugh is currently 4-4 against the Spartans over the course of his eight year coaching career in Ann Arbor. Michigan will be favored to win, but Michigan fans know all too well that this one doesn't always go according to plan. 

at Penn State (Nov. 11)

Penn State is coming off of a solid 2022 season, finishing the year with a Rose Bowl win and an overall record of 11-2. Although Michigan has the more talented roster, the Wolverines will travel to Happy Valley in the middle of November for a late season matchup with the Nittany Lions. Harbaugh currently has a 5-3 record against James Franklin, but winning in Beaver Stadium is never an easy task for the visiting team - particularly when it's late in the season and you're a highly-ranked opponent. 

Ohio State (Nov. 25)

The next biggest challenge for Michigan in 2023 is obviously Ohio State. The Wolverines are currently riding the wave of back-to-back dominant wins over the Buckeyes, but there's little doubt that the 118th meeting between the two programs will be one of the biggest (and most consequential) games of the 2023 season. It's also a pretty safe bet that the Buckeyes have been watching the 2022 game on repeat, including the highlights of Michigan players planting the block M flat at mid-field. 

The Bowl Game (TBD)

If the season does go off the rails and Michigan drops the games listed above, the Wolverines won't be heading to Indy to compete for their third straight Big Ten Championship. Instead, they'll be headed off to a bowl game where Harbaugh will look to improve his overall record of 1-6 in bowl games as head coach at the University of Michigan. So far, Harbaugh's only bowl win came during his first season in Ann Arbor, with Michigan defeating Florida in the 2015 Citrus Bowl.