In a little over 48 hours, the Michigan Wolverines will return to action as the 2017 NCAA football schedule gets underway. Just like every season, there are plenty of questions surrounding every team in the nation -- and the Wolverines are no different. Since Jim Harbaugh has taken over as head coach, Michigan has once again become a force in the Big Ten and on a national level as well, however, is it time for the Wolverines to make a big statement in 2017?

Let’s be realistic. Harbaugh has changed the culture of this team in just two seasons. Five of the last six seasons before Harbaugh took over, fans were just hoping Michigan could compete.

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Under Harbaugh the Wolverines have won 20 of their 26 games, finishing 10-3 two seasons in a row, but is there any pressure on the former Michigan QB to make that next jump in 2017? 10-3 seasons are nice, but a couple things need to change if fans are hoping for an 11-2 or better year this fall.

Must beat Ohio State

Harbaugh has restored Michigan football, that is for sure! Back-to-back 10 win seasons, a recruiting class that rivals the top schools in the nation, and the fact that the word is out that the former 49ers head coach wants nothing more than to bring a title to his alma mater. The first step toward a national championship is beating Ohio State, something Michigan hasn’t done since Harbaugh took over.

Despite last season's double overtime thriller in Columbus, the Wolverines have lost 5 in a row to the Buckeyes.

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That is something that needs to change if Michigan is hoping for a playoff berth this December.

A great start is key

It may be cliche, but it is true, for Michigan to be successful, they must have a great start to the 2017 season. The Wolverines will begin the campaign at No. 11 in the coaches' poll and No. 9 in the weekly AP rankings. They open the season this weekend against the always tough #Florida Gators -- who will be a bit shorthanded as several starters were suspended for the game. Nevertheless, the Wolverines can’t take the Gators lightly. A win vs. Florida could set the tempo for a great season.

Predictions

It is always hard to predict an entire season of games before the year actually begins, but let’s give it a go! Michigan will start the year 6-0 and in the AP top five before heading to Happy Valley to face Penn State. This will be a tough game. If the Wolverines win at Penn State, then all bets are off -- meaning anything short of a playoff spot will be unacceptable. I have Michigan losing to Penn State, but finishing 10-2 overall and making the postseason.

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The key games being at Penn State, at Wisconsin and home vs. Ohio State. If they win two of those three games they are a shoo-in. However, if they beat Ohio State and finish with 10 wins, that may be just enough to help the Wolverines earn their first postseason berth under the new NCAA alignment.

Here are the weekly predictions.

2017 schedule

Sept. 2: vs. Florida (Dallas, Texas) -- Win

Sept. 9: Cincinnati -- Win

Sept. 16: Air Force -- Win

Sept. 23: at Purdue* -- Win

Oct. 7: Michigan State* -- Win

Oct. 14: at Indiana* -- Win

Oct. 21: at Penn State* -- Loss

Oct. 28: Rutgers* -- Win

Nov. 4: Minnesota* -- Win

Nov. 11: at Maryland* -- Win

Nov. 18: at Wisconsin* -- Loss

Nov. 25: Ohio State* -- Win

Dec. 2: Big Ten Championship Game (Indianapolis, Ind.)

* Big Ten conference game #Michigan football predictions #Michigan Football