Five predictions for the Wolverines


■ The Sept. 7 contest at home against Notre Dame will show Michigan exactly where it stands. Not just because there’s a national spotlight on what could be the last game between a pair of college football powers, but because the Wolverines face a national-caliber opponent and have been preparing for it as such. Michigan has all but circled this game on its calendar as the de facto home opener.

■ Picking quarterback Devin Gardner as a Heisman Trophy candidate is the easy and trendy thing. Picking exact numbers is a little more difficult, but with Fitzgerald Toussaint’s health restored and a certain resolve about him, he will rush for 1,000 yards with Gardner working from under center.

■ While the Wolverines will go back to an offense that puts the passing game in play, Jeremy Gallon will not have 1,000 receiving yards. It will take some time for Michigan’s diminutive veteran receivers and its inexperienced, tall receivers to get into a rhythm, which means the receiving yardage will be varied among different players.

■ If the Wolverines successfully execute the pro-style offense, expect offensive coordinator Al Borges to receive a contract extension akin to the one that defensive coordinator Greg Mattison received in March — one that came with bonuses and a certain amount of job security.

■ Northwestern is projected as the Big Ten’s not-so-under-the radar dark horse, and Michigan’s Nov. 16 matchup at Northwestern — not the Nebraska game a week prior — will be pivotal in the Wolverines’ pursuit of the Legends Division and Big Ten titles.