5 games to watch for Michigan football in 2018

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    Ohio State fans greet cheer as Michigan leaves the field in defeat after falling to the Buckeyes last November. The rivals meet in their traditional end-of-season clash Nov. 24.

    The Blade/Katie Rausch
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  • ANN ARBOR — There are difficult schedules, and then there’s Michigan’s 2018 slate of games.

    Eight teams had winning records in 2017 and five enter this season with College Football Playoff aspirations. Some view it as bad luck that the Wolverines face such a murderer’s row when they finally have high expectations and a.

    Here is a look at the top five games of the season for Michigan:

    1. At Ohio State (Nov. 24): The hump Michigan can’t get over is Ohio State. The Wolverines haven’t beaten the Buckeyes since 2011 and even that victory came in a scandal-ridden year where OSU was a shell of itself. Not since the 1990s has Michigan had a grasp on this rivalry. It could all change this season in Columbus. A UM win could signal a seismic shift.

    2. At Michigan State (Oct. 20): Before Michigan ventures to Ohio State, it has another rival it must vanquish. Last season’s loss to Michigan State is one of the worst of the Jim Harbaugh era. This year’s game should have massive stakes, and it’s possible both teams will be undefeated when they meet in East Lansing. Another loss to MSU would significantly damage Michigan’s Big Ten East hopes and cause more arrows to be slung in Harbaugh’s direction.

    3. At Notre Dame (Sept. 1): Michigan-Notre Dame is arguably the best nonconference game of the year and perhaps the biggest game in the entire month of September. The loser is immediately put behind the eight-ball, not to mention their fan base will be apoplectic. In what will likely be Shea Patterson’s debut, the quarterback could either send a jolt of energy through the Wolverines or ground them before they even take off. Regardless, the overreactions off this game’s result will be extreme.

    4. Wisconsin (Oct. 13): Michigan’s trip to Madison last season felt like the bottom falling out of the season. Not only did UM lose, but it lost its starting quarterback the week before the Ohio State game and the season felt totally gone. The Wolverines get Wisconsin in the Big House this season, and the Badgers have national championship aspirations. This is another chance for Michigan to prove to its fans, the Big Ten, and the nation that 2018 is the year Harbaugh gets it done.

    5. Penn State (Nov. 3): It’s another payback game in the Michigan-Penn State series. Two years ago, Michigan clobbered the Nittany Lions in Ann Arbor. Penn State returned the favor last year. Might the Wolverines make it three blowouts in a row? Rumor has it this will be a night game in Michigan Stadium. The winner will have a major advantage in the East Division race.

    Contact Kyle Rowland at krowland@theblade.com, 419-724-6110 or on Twitter @KyleRowland.