On Fox Sports’ Saturday morning show, Big Noon Kickoff, analysts Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush broke down Big Ten teams, including the Michigan Wolverines.
Bush said he has questions about the Maize and Blue heading into the season, after a disappointing 9-4 season in 2019 that included losses against Wisconsin, Penn State, Ohio State and Alabama. Michigan plays a very tough schedule once again, meaning it will have to win more of those tough games to have an improved mark when this year’s nine-game schedule is over with.
“The biggest question mark for me is Michigan,” Bush said.” Are they going to be better this year? Because when I look at their schedule, it’s a very tough schedule. They start off at Minnesota, they got Penn State at home, they got Wisconsin at home, and at Ohio State. Here’s the issue, you’re only playing eight games. That’s four potential losses right there.
“Jim Harbaugh is also going into the [second to last] year of his contract. That could affect recruiting. My question [about the Big Ten] is, is Michigan going to be better this year?”
The Wolverines are expected to finish second or third in the Big Ten East in year six under head coach Jim Harbaugh, but the wild card is a new quarterback in redshirt sophomore Joe Milton, Leinart said, sharing his optimism that Milton could be the signal caller to put Michigan over the top.
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Milton appeared in four games last season, where he completed 3-of-7 pass attempts for 59 yards, including his first-ever touchdown pass, a 23-yard strike to sophomore wideout Giles Jackson against Rutgers.
“All eyes are going to be on their quarterback, Joe Milton, who takes over,” Leinart said. “This has been the position they’ve missed on the last few years. But Joe Milton gives them a skillset they haven’t seen before at this position. He’s 6-6, 240. [Former Ohio State head] Coach [Urban Meyer] says he reminds him a little of [Patriots quarterback] Cam Newton, in the way he looks and the way he moves. And then he’s got an absolute cannon, think [Bills quarterback] Josh Allen, [Chiefs quarterback] Patrick Mahomes. He can throw the ball 70, 75 yards down field.”
In fact, Milton’s big arm is one of the reasons why Leinart believes he could be the reason why Michigan puts up different, and better results than in recent years.
“They haven’t had a quarterback that can stretch the field,” the analyst said. “He’s unknown, there’s a lot of questions, but is he ‘that guy’? [Offensive coordinator] Josh Gattis in his second year calling plays, he’s got some playmakers around him, can he elevate that football team and maybe compete for a Big Ten championship?”
The world will find out soon enough, and while many have ruled Michigan out of contention to win the conference crown, Leinart isn’t ruling the Wolverines out just yet.
No. 19 Michigan kicks off its season on Saturday, Oct. 24 at No. 24 Minnesota, with the game being televised at 7:30 p.m. ET on ABC. ESPN’s ‘College GameDay’ will be in attendance, broadcasting live from Minneapolis from 9 a.m. ET to noon ET.