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Michigan could be Maryland football’s toughest opponent of 2016

DJ Durkin could be in trouble against his old team.

Rutgers v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Leading up to the start of Maryland's football season on Sept. 3, we're doing an at-a-glance preview of every opponent on the schedule.

Week 1: Howard (Sept. 3, Maryland Stadium, 12 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Week 2: FIU (Sept. 9, Ocean Bank Field, Miami, 7:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network)

Week 3: UCF (Sept. 17, Bright House Networks Stadium, Orlando, 7 p.m., CBS Sports Network)

Week 4: Bye

Week 5: Purdue (Oct. 1, Maryland Stadium, 3:30 p.m., TV TBA)

Week 6: Penn State (Oct. 8, Beaver Stadium, 12:00 p.m., TV TBA)

Week 7: Minnesota: (Oct. 15., Maryland Stadium, time and TV TBA)

Week 8: Michigan State (Oct. 22, Maryland Stadium, 7:30 p.m., Big Ten Network)

Week 9: Indiana (Oct. 29, Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, TV TBA)

Week 10: Michigan (Nov. 5, Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, TV TBA)

It was always a matter of when, not if Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan football team would be good. The Wolverines arrived perhaps slightly ahead of schedule last season, ending up with a 10-3 record and finishing No. 6 in Bill Connelly’s S&P+ rankings, and that makes this year’s team even scarier.

No one’s underrating Michigan heading into 2016. Sure, DJ Durkin left his spot as the Wolverines defensive coordinator to coach Maryland, but Harbaugh replaced him with Boston College’s Don Brown, who led an amazing defense in 2015. The Wolverines are universally viewed as College Football Playoff contender with only Ohio State in their way in the Big Ten.

Michigan came to College Park and battled Maryland in 2015, only entering halftime with a 6-0 lead before burning the Terps in the second half to win, 28-0. This season’s matchup could potentially turn out even worse.

How good is this team?

Chances are Michigan will be very good by the time Maryland gets to the Big House in November. At first glance, Michigan State seems like the only team the Wolverines play before Maryland that has a shot at beating them.

It’s not yet clear who will be playing quarterback for the Wolverines, but it probably doesn’t matter. Last year grad transfer Jake Rudock led the No. 8 passing offense in the nation (per S&P+) after some unremarkable seasons at Iowa.

Who should I watch?

Jabrill Peppers. This one’s easy. If you haven’t heard of him by now, Peppers is one of the most dynamic athletes in the country. He’s shifting from safety to linebacker this season, which just means that he’ll be covering even more ground for the Wolverines. You’ll also see him returning kicks and playing on offense, because he’s outrageous.

Wide receivers Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson and tight end Jake Butt give whoever’s under center a bevy of options, and Jourdan Lewis is one of the best cornerbacks in the country.

Snap prediction, way ahead of time: Does Maryland win?

Nooooooope. Nope nope nope. Michigan could end up as one of the best teams in the nation this season. Maryland is very much still in a rebuilding phase. The Terps will probably be in over their heads here.