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Michigan football schedule ranked the toughest in the Big Ten by Sporting News

clayton-sayfieby:Clayton Sayfie06/13/24

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Michigan Wolverines football won its first nine games last season by 24-plus points a piece, cruising to easy victories before finally being challenged down the stretch — and answering the ball — to finish 15-0 with a national championship.

The 2024 season isn’t expected to be as much of a cakewalk early in the year, though, with the Wolverines starting out against Fresno State (Aug. 31) and Texas (Sept. 7), before hosting USC (Sept. 21), and Minnesota (Sept. 28) and then heading to Washington (Oct. 5). U-M also plays Arkansas State in non-conference play Sept. 14 in Ann Arbor.

Sporting News’ Bill Bender released his rankings of the toughest schedules in the Big Ten for 2024, and U-M unsurprisingly checked in No. 1.

Sherrone Moore will not have an easy task,” Bender said of Michigan’s first-year head coach. “The defending national champions have the toughest non-conference matchup with Texas visiting Ann Arbor in Week 2. The Wolverines are the welcoming committee for USC and Oregon – who also come to the Big House — and Washington — where the Wolverines travel for a CFP championship rematch. That all leads to the finale at Ohio State.

“Michigan’s opponents have a combined winning percentage of .624. There are few breaks on this schedule.”

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Nine of the 12 regular-season opponents made bowl games last season, including two that made the College Football Playoff (Washington and Texas). Ohio State finished top 10 and hosts U-M at the end of the regular season — Michigan has only one in Columbus once since 2000. Oregon enters the Big Ten as a consensus top-five team in the country. USC, meanwhile, is a national power that went 8-5 but is intent on having a resurgent campaign.

Michigan plays five teams that rank top 25 in the nation in Bender’s post-spring rankings: Ohio State (No. 2), Texas (No. 3), Oregon (No. 4), USC (No. 21) and Washington (No. 22).

Following Michigan, Bender believes that Purdue and USC have the toughest slates in the conference. He has Rutgers, Iowa and Penn State as possessing the easiest schedules.

Here’s a look at his ranking of the Big Ten schedules by difficulty:

1. Michigan
T-2. Purdue
T-2. USC
4. Michigan State
5. UCLA
6. Washington
7. Ohio State
8. Illinois
T-9. Wisconsin
T-9. Northwestern
11. Maryland
T-12. Indiana
T-12. Oregon
14. Nebraska
15. Minnesota
16. Penn State
17. Iowa
18. Rutgers

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