Obviously the Orange Bowl will give us more info. But before the season started, I felt uneasy about calling this "the year" and Brian's prediction of 12-0. I got on the hype train pretty quickly of course, but in hindsight I don't think this team was as talented top to bottom as the 2006 team. A Jim Harbaugh/Don Brown coached 2006 team would have walked away with the Big Ten Title and the National Championship.
This is not my attempt at a hot-take. I do think year's defense was better than the 2006 defense. But in 2006 we had NFL caliber impact players on offense AND defense. This year's offense was a bunch of question marks. A Borges recruit at QB with no track record? (and later, we found, no viable backup in O'Korn) A hodge-podge of mediocre runningbacks and an offensive line that grew up under Funk? Compare that to the Henne/Hart/Long/Manningham/Arrington supersquad of '06. Coming into this year, the only NFL caliber player on offense we had was Butt, and I think it's a testament to the offensive genius of Harbaugh that this team ended up scoring more points than any Michigan team of the modern era.
We were clearly hoping for a '97 repeat, where an insane defease carried a mediocre offense. That could have happened, but the team was done in largely due to bad luck vs. Iowa and OSU, but mostly due to the offense's inability to show up when the defense put it in position to win (plus the fact that Urban Meyer is no John Cooper). The defense lived up to the hype--giving up 13 points @ Iowa and 17 points @ OSU should win you those games 9 out of 10 times with a solid offense. I don't buy into the idea that the defense simply fell apart late. Michigan could have salted the games away with long 3rd and 4th quarter scoring drives, but that's not what we got.
For these reason, I don't think 2017 portends as big of a drop off as anyone imagines. There will be plenty of question marks on defense, but like 2015 OSU it's hard to assess the second string when they're only playing in gargabe time. The offense will have question marks too, but if Speight pulls off a Rudockian bowl game the only game on the 2017 schedule that truly scares me is the one at Camp Randall, which will likely be a night game. My prediction: 11-1 and we beat OSU, Raback it.
EDIT: My argument is that the 2006 team was overall more talented than the 2016 team is. The 2016 defense beats out the 2006 defense, but the 2006 offense had the big guns. You put Harbaugh and Brown at the helm in 2006 and Michigan goes 13-0. We beat OSU 53-23. Brown doesn't get fooled by OSU's 4 and 5 wide reciever spreads that obliterated our secondary.