Michigan enters Jim Harbaugh's third season coming off back-to-back 10-3 seasons yetstill searching for the program's first Big Ten championship since 2004.
Michigan has enjoyed success in Harbaugh's first two seasons, but last year's 30-27 double-overtime loss to Ohio State kept the Wolverines out of the Big Ten championship game. The Wolverines closed with a 33-32 loss to Florida State in the Capital One Orange Bowl. Now, Michigan must replace a huge senior class heading into the 2017 season. Of course, that starts with spring practice and a trip to Rome.
What kind of success will that lead to in 2017? The Wolverines are ranked No. 8 in Sporting News' Way Too Early Top 25, and here's a preview of Michigans 's 2017 schedule, roster and biggest questions entering the season.
When is Michigan's spring game?
Michigan is holding an open practice on April 15 before the well-publicized trip to Rome from April 22-30.
2017 Michigan football schedule
Sept. 2: vs. Florida (Arlington, Texas)
Sept. 9: vs. Cincinnati
Sept. 16: vs. Air Force
Sept. 23: at Purdue
Sept. 30: BYE
Oct. 7: vs. Michigan State
Oct. 14: at Indiana
Oct. 21: at Penn State
Oct. 28: vs. Rutgers
Nov. 4: vs. Minnesota
Nov. 11: at Maryland
Nov. 18: at Wisconsin
Nov. 25: vs. Ohio State
Dec. 2: Big Ten championship game
2017 Michigan recruiting class
Michigan's class had aranking of No. 4 across four recruiting sites. The Wolverines reeled in another top-five classhighlighted by five-star receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones and defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon. Four-star Dylan McCaffrey could be the quarterback of the future.
2017 Michigan roster
Michigan's official roster will be updated throughout the spring and fall here.
Three things to watch
1. How will the defense reload?
Taco Charlton, Jourdan Lewis and Jabrill Peppers all could be first-round picks in the 2017 NFL Draft. The Wolverines lost a lot, but defensive coordinator Don Brown still has several pieces to work with for 2017. That starts with a defensive line that features Rashan Gary, the No. 1 recruit in 2016, and Maurice Hurst. Mike McCray returns at linebacker. The secondary will undergo a major makeover. The talent is there. Willthe Wolverines still have that same dominant defense that produced 46 sacks in 2016? If anybody can find the scheme to do it, then it's Brown.
2. Who are the playmakers?
Quarterback Wilton Speight returns after an efficient season in which he passed for 2,358 yards with 18 TDs and seven interceptions. Speight's top three targets from last season —Amara Darboh, Jehu Chesson and Jake Butt —are gone, so he'll have to mesh with the new group of receivers. Michigan has depth at tight end with Ian Bunting and Tyrone Wheatley Jr., and Peoples-Jones was part of an impressive recruiting haul at receiver. That position battle should be interesting to watch through fall camp.
3. Can U-M find a dominant run game?
That's what Michigan needs to take that next-level stepunder Harbaugh. The Wolverines averaged 2.4 yards per rush in losses to Iowa, Ohio State and Florida State. The offensive line is getting a makeover, and Mason Cole is the top returner. Chris Evans —who had 614 yards and four TDs rushing as a freshman —will be the lead back for Michigan. The Wolverines need that running game to be dominant to win a Big Ten championship. That's the biggest challenge for Harbaugh in Year 3.