Michigan lost some serious talent from its 2018 team, especially on defense, including linebacker Devin Bush, ends Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich, and cornerback David Long.
The Wolverines were 10-3 but the season ended on a sour note with blowout losses to Ohio State and Florida.
But the cupboard is not bare, as ESPN notes in its Playoff Predictor. Michigan has a 41-percent chance to make the College Football Playoff, according to the analysis, joining Clemson (83 percent), Alabama (71 percent) and Georgia (40 percent) in the national semifinals.
While Michigan has holes to fill on defense, quarterback Shea Patterson returns and the Wolverines will roll out a more up-tempo offense under new coordinator Josh Gattis. Additionally, UM has its three non-conference opponents at home – Middle Tennessee State, Army and Notre Dame – as well as Michigan State and Ohio State also at Michigan Stadium.
“The Wolverines have failed to reach the playoff thus far, but they are in a better situation now than ever before in the playoff era,” says ESPN’s Seth Walder. “Coach Jim Harbaugh is bringing back eight starters on offense, including quarterback Shea Patterson, who tied for eighth in Total QBR a season ago. The result is that FPI (ESPN’s Football Power Index) expects Michigan to have the best offense (and team) in the Big Ten, catching some of its division rivals in what could be a down season.”
Teams with the best chance to make the College Football Playoff (with national championship odds in parentheses), according to ESPN’s Playoff Predictor:
Clemson: 83 percent CFP (36 percent national championship)
Alabama: 71 percent (27 percent)
Michigan: 41 percent (7 percent)
Georgia: 40 percent (8 percent)
Oklahoma: 35 percent (5 percent)
LSU: 32 percent (6 percent)
Notre Dame: 28 percent (4 percent)
Oregon: 14 percent (1 percent)
Florida: 10 percent (1 percent)