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Wolverines are quiet Big Ten favorites

UM's offense makes it front-runner to win the division, and a legit challenger to Badgers

Updated: October 14, 2011, 9:00 AM ET
By KC Joyner | ESPN Insider

In 1939, Chicago Bears head coach George Halas knew he needed to make some offensive changes if his club was to keep up with the firepower Sammy Baugh and Don Hutson brought to their teams' passing games.

Halas started by adding future Hall of Fame quarterback Sid Luckman, but the Papa Bear knew he needed to augment his team's talent by overhauling the playbook to give his offense more ways to attack defenses. Halas did this by hiring the most brilliant offensive football mind of that era, Clark Shaughnessy, who gave the Bears more playcalling options than any other team in the NFL had. It made their offense nearly unstoppable and helped Chicago lead the league in scoring in four of the next five years on the way to winning three NFL championships.

Michigan Wolverines coach Brady Hoke took something of a similar approach this past offseason. Hoke inherited a team with plenty of offensive talent (Michigan's 32.8 points per game ranked 25th in the FBS last season), but he wanted more than that. As he said in May, "we want to be multiple enough in our shotgun offense to show one thing and go to another."

It turns out that may have been an understatement. A review of the Wolverines' playcalling against Northwestern shows that the Michigan offense is so diverse and dangerous that this team should actually be considered the favorite to win the Big Ten.

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