Posts Tagged ‘Bowl’
Each year during the week leading up to the first Michigan game of the season, I dust off my Bob Ufer “Maximum Meechigan” album and put it on repeat. As the goose bumps spread across my forearms I’m instantly transported back to the golden era of Michigan football eagerly anticipating the return of college football.
Perhaps Ufer put it best when he said, “There are five seasons across this country every year: winter, spring, summer, fall, and football. Football season makes the barber cut hair just a little bit better, and it makes the butcher slice the steak a trifle thicker. The shoe-shine boy pops his rag with more gusto, and the landlord doesn’t mention the overdue rent.”
While the quote may be a bit outdated, its meaning certainly holds true today. As we reach the start of the country’s fifth season, Michigan looks to start a new golden era, and it all begins on Saturday when UConn invades the Big House.
September 4 – UConn
Randy Edsall’s Huskies return eight starters from an offense that averaged 31.2 points per game a year ago. Fortunately for Michigan, the strength of the offense is the running game, led by Jordan Todman. Both receivers are new, affording Michigan’s weakness, the defensive secondary, a chance to get its feet wet for next week’s battle at Notre Dame.
Conversely, Michigan should be able to put up plenty of points against a very young and inexperienced UConn secondary. All signs point to a shootout, but Michigan should be able to come out on top with an explosive offense led by the duo of Denard Robinson and Tate Forcier.
Michigan 37 – UConn 31
September 11 – at Notre Dame
Notre Dame has a new coach at the helm in Brian Kelly who plans to spread the ball around in an up-tempo offense. Though the Irish will be breaking in a new starter at quarterback, Dayne Crist, he has some experienced weapons in receiver Michael Floyd, tight end Kyle Rudolph, and running back Armando Allen. Michigan fans are already having nightmares of Crist to Floyd in the same way that Michigan State felt about Henne to Edwards. In other words, it could get scary.
The one saving grace for Michigan is that Notre Dame’s defense is similar to its own: strong up front, weak in the secondary. Just like the UConn game, this figures to be a shootout, but Notre Dame will have too much firepower for Michigan to keep up with on the road.
Notre Dame 33 – Michigan 27
September 18 – UMass
Michigan gets a bounce-back game to get the offense firing on all cylinders and this should be similar to last season’s Football Championship Subdivision opponent, Delaware State.
UMass returns just eight total starters and will be no match for Michigan. Devin Gardner will likely get his first action running the offense as Michigan pounds the Minutemen.
Michigan 52 – UMass 17
September 25 – Bowling Green
Much like UMass, Bowling Green won’t put up much of a fight for Michigan. The Falcons return just eight starters. Senior running back Willie Geter is good, but won’t be able to make up for the loss of the school’ second all-time quarterback and receiver.
If there’s a common theme among Michigan’s non-conference schedule, it’s lack of depth and experience in the secondary. Bowling Green doesn’t have much to work with on a defense that gave up just under 28 points per game last season.
Michigan 46 – Bowling Green 20
October 2 – at Indiana
Last season, Indiana gave Michigan a scare in Ann Arbor. This season, Michigan needs to avoid a trap game on the road before entering the meat of its conference schedule.
Indiana is led by senior quarterback Ben Chappell, who pioneers one of the conference’s most dynamic offenses. Receiver Tandon Doss tore Michigan up a year ago and could be a tough matchup again this year for Michigan’s weak secondary.
Defensively, Indiana returns just three starters, all in the front seven. Michigan should once again light up the scoreboard in a close one.
Michigan 35 – Indiana 31
October 9 – Michigan State
Michigan State has won two straight in the rivalry and is licking its chops for a chance to make it three. Led by junior quarterback Kirk Cousins, the Spartans have one of the top offensive attacks in the Big Ten.
On defense, Michigan State has depth in the secondary but its weakness is up front. The leader on defense is All-American linebacker Greg Jones and he’s a force to be reckoned with, but Michigan should be able to move the ball on the Spartans. With the home field advantage, Michigan pulls it out.
Michigan 28 – Michigan State 24
October 16 – Iowa
The Hawkeyes could be the most complete team in the Big Ten with a senior-loaded offense and eight starters returning from one of the Big Ten’s top defenses. Quarterback Ricky Stanzi won’t be confused for Peyton Manning, but is efficient at running the offense.
Iowa’s defense gave up just 15.4 points per game last season and ranked fourth nationally in pass defense. The entire defensive line returns and should give Michigan’s offense fits for the first time this season.
Iowa 23 – Michigan 17
October 30 – at Penn State
Michigan gets the fortune of having its bye week prior to traveling to Happy Valley, which should help relieve the sting of the Iowa loss. Penn State has been one of the top teams in the Big Ten the past few years, but will be starting a true freshman quarterback, Robert Bolden, this season.
Last season’s top scoring defense returns just five starters and has to replace five of its front seven. A primetime “white-out” game in Happy Valley, however, is a recipe for a Penn State win.
Penn State 26 – Michigan 21
November 6 – Illinois
With Juice Williams and Arrelious Benn gone, Illinois head coach Ron Zook finds himself squarely on the hot seat. He will likely be relying on redshirt freshman Nate Scheelhaase to guide the offense that ranked last in the Big Ten last season in conference play.
On the other side of the ball, seven starters return from the worst scoring defense in the conference in 2009. Michigan will be able to score against the Illini and bounce back from two straight losses to become bowl eligible for the first time in three years.
Michigan 33 – Illinois 17
November 13 – at Purdue
Purdue seems to be a dark horse candidate to surprise some in the Big Ten this year, but the Boilermakers face two key issues: rebuilding on offensive line and in the secondary. Head Coach Danny Hope will rely on Miami transfer Robert Marve to lead the offense, but the Boilers suffered a huge loss when running back Ralph Bolden tore his ACL in the spring.
On defense, Purdue surrendered a conference worst 173.4 rushing yards per game last season, but returns most of the front seven. The secondary is void of experience, so the defense should yield plenty of points.
Michigan 31 – Purdue 21
November 20 – Wisconsin
Like Iowa, Wisconsin features a very experienced team on both sides of the ball from a team that finished 10-3 last season and upset Miami in the Champs Sports Bowl.
Senior quarterback Scott Tolzien returns, as does junior running back John Clay. The Badgers offense ranked first in the Big Ten in scoring (31.8), rushing yards (203.9) and total yards (416.9) last season, and it only has to replace one receiver. This offense should be hard to stop with the combination of Clay on the ground and receiver Nick Toon in the air.
The defense gave up a Big Ten best 88.2 yards on the ground last year but has to replace three defensive linemen. If the replacements can hold up, Wisconsin should challenge Ohio State and Iowa for the Big Ten title. They should be too much for Michigan though.
Wisconsin 28 – Michigan 20
November 27 – at Ohio State
The final game in the Big Ten as we know it could be ugly for Michigan. Ohio State figures to be firing on all cylinders with junior quarterback Terrelle Pryor expected to break out like former Texas quarterback Vince Young did in his junior season. Pryor has senior wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher, a virtual clone of Anthony Gonzalez, to throw to, and speedster Brandon Saine in the backfield. Four of five offensive linemen return including Michigan transfer Justin Boren.
While this should be the best offense Ohio State has had since Troy Smith graduated in 2006, the defense has some holes to fill. The defensive line needs to be retooled, but the linebackers all return, including seniors Brian Rolle and Ross Homan, the top two tacklers from a year ago.
Pryor could be looking to wrap up the Heisman with a big performance, and unless Michigan’s secondary grows up fast, it could be a long day for Michigan.
Ohio State 38 – Michigan 24
Many outside the program (and some of the Michigan fanbase) will say that 7-5 isn’t good enough for Michigan, but it’s just what Rich Rodriguez needs at this point to ramp up expectations for 2011. Getting back to a bowl game is the first step and anything more than 7-5 will be considered a huge success this year as Michigan will return 19 starters to challenge for the innagural Big Ten Championship next season.