College Football
Michigan to host Texas in Week 2 on FOX: Is there a talent gap between the two teams?
College Football

Michigan to host Texas in Week 2 on FOX: Is there a talent gap between the two teams?

Updated Apr. 21, 2024 10:20 a.m. ET

Is Michigan good enough to repeat as national champions? Is Texas good enough to beat a College Football Playoff team? 

We'll find out on Sept. 7, when the Wolverines host the Longhorns in FOX's Big Noon game. The game time and broadcast crew featuring Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt and Jenny Taft was revealed during Michigan's spring game, which was televised Saturday live on FOX.

Given the Wolverines will enter this season without national champion quarterback J.J. McCarthy, running back Blake Corum, wide out Roman Wilson and defensive back Mike Sainristil, this Michigan team doesn't look like one that can beat a Texas team that's returning quarterback Quinn Ewers, running back CJ Baxter and linebacker Anthony Hill

The addition of former Alabama wide out Isaiah Bond to the Longhorns' roster adds an interesting strategic aspect to preparation on both sides, as Bond and the Crimson Tide met Michigan in the Rose Bowl last year.


The team that first-year head coach Sherrone Moore put on the field for the Wolverines' spring game is talented. Michigan returns all four defensive linemen who stood up against Alabama on a fourth-down play in the Rose Bowl and earned the opportunity to play for and win the national title: Derrick Moore, Josaiah Stewart, Mason Graham and Kenneth Grant.

In the secondary, Michigan returns first-team All-American cornerback Will Johnson, who headlines a defense under new leadership with Wink Martindale taking over as the defensive coordinator. Michigan's defense hasn't changed in philosophy in three years — and it's a defense that Martindale taught to former Michigan defensive coordinators Jesse Minter and Mike Macdonald. Offensive coordinator Kirk Campbell will take over play-calling duties from Moore, but the offense, like the defense, remains true to its philosophy.

The Wolverines aren't that far away from the Longhorns and can close the gap this summer. But losing Jim Harbaugh to the NFL isn't a small detail. Keeping Steve Sarkisian – who was offered the job at Alabama – at Texas heading into the program's first year of SEC competition isn't either.

Continuity is becoming a commodity in college football with the creation of the transfer portal. For coaches, specifically head coaches, taking a new job at another school creates a 30-day window for players to enter the transfer portal, regardless of timing. And such a move can rip apart a program.

Continuity among players has never been more important, because depth has never been more important in the sport. Prior to 2018, roster management was a term used primarily in professional football. Now, no roster is safe from the portal from one year to the next. There is extra emphasis on keeping players now, especially those players with experience who can fill out a depth chart.

Michigan Football Spring Game - Instant Reaction!

That is where the 12 teams making up this year's College Football Playoff will separate themselves. Michigan has this summer to develop those players at positions like its defensive line. But they are one of the rare teams that don't need depth at quarterback.

While most agree Alex Orji is likely to start Week 1 under center against Fresno State, backups Davis Warren, Jaydn Davis and Jayden Denegal showed enough during the spring game for Michigan to feel fine about its QB depth.

With that position secure, efforts to retain and recruit players during this transfer portal window to create that depth will need to be on display come November for the Wolverines to have a chance to defend their national title.

RJ Young is a national college football writer and analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the podcast "The Number One College Football Show." Follow him on Twitter at @RJ_Young and subscribe to "The RJ Young Show" on YouTube.


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