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Running back Karan Higdon and the Michigan Wolverines aim to win the Big Ten East Division — and more — this fall.

Michigan’s best team under Jim Harbaugh could be 2018 … if Wolverines can finally do this

Rachel Lenzi

During the week, Land of 10 reporters following the Wolverines answer questions on the minds of Michigan fans. Submit a question or suggest a topic by sending a tweet here to Rachel Lenzi or here to Kevin Goheen. Check back Monday through Friday as we answer the Michigan Question of the Day. Go here to see our previous answers.

Is this the best team Jim Harbaugh has had since being in Ann Arbor? — Marty Cornwell, via Facebook

The best team Jim Harbaugh has coached in Ann Arbor is the 2016 team. Michigan finished 10-3, earned a berth in the Orange Bowl and produced 11 NFL draft picks that season. Yet those Wolverines didn’t win the big games or the Big Ten East Division. And they certainly didn’t beat Ohio State.

The 2018 Wolverines have the potential to become the best team under Harbaugh. But there are too many what-ifs right now. Perhaps No. 1 among them: What if transfer quarterback Shea Patterson is ineligible to play this season? If Patterson can play — and stay healthy — then the sky is the limit for this Michigan team.

The Wolverines return 16 starters, including NFL defensive end prospects Chase Winovich and Rashan Gary, as well as running back Karan Higdon. Linebacker and Butkus Award finalist Devin Bush, viper Khaleke Hudson and wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones also return. These are players who have the experience of playing in big games, but also have the sour experience of going 8-5 in 2017. An 8-5 finish is unacceptable at Michigan. This team now wants to meet an expectation: To win.

The team this year must also do something Harbaugh’s teams haven’t: Win the important games.

Michigan has one of the toughest schedules in the nation this season. Wins will be vital — none more so than the regular-season finale at Ohio State.

In the last three seasons, Michigan is winless against Ohio State, 1-2 against Michigan State, 1-2 in bowl games and has yet to win the Big Ten East Division.

Win the East, and many doors open, including a berth in the Big Ten title game and a potential spot in the College Football Playoff.

The Wolverines have a blueprint for success, and now have to execute those designs. If the NCAA rules Patterson eligible to play this fall, he could provide even more excitement for a team that pursues its return to college football greatness.

Read more answers to questions about the Michigan Wolverines here.