This, of course, is an emotional reaction. So let's put away the pitchforks (for the pissed off out there) and the shotguns (for the depressed out there) and take a step back, and just look at this team's progress towards its goals.
Before the season, I openly predicted that we would go 6-6 in a diary.
Of the commenters that predicted, the breakdown went as such:
9+ wins (3)
8 wins (4)
6 wins or less (7)
Five of the seven commenters predicting 6 or less predicted 5 wins, nobody predicted 4 or less. So including myself, 8/23 or more than a 1/3 predicted a season to finish 6-6 at best. Over 2/3 predicted a best-case scenario of 7-5. Granted, 23 is a small sample size, but it's what I have.
Midway through the season we were 4-2 heading into a game against Delaware State, also known as the School for the Blind, so 5-2 was a given. It was at this point that I cautioned everyone to remain realistic about the team, and maintained that I felt 6-6 was likely. http://mgoblog.com/diaries/mid-season-analysis-how-are-we-doing
Far fewer member made predictions, but the general attitude in the comments was, "You're an idiot, Illinois is garbage, you're an idiot, we finish 8-4 at least, maybe 9-3, you're an idiot, neg-bang neg-bang neg-bang neg-bang neg-bang.... you're an idiot."
Again, this sentiment was based on emotion. Everyone was still high off the win over Notre Dame and the gutsy performance against Indiana. Nobody was taking into account that of 5 wins, two were against Michigan Directional, one was against Indiana, and the lone quality win was against Notre Dame.
'Lo and behold, after drubbing the blind kids from Delaware and losing to an Illinois team that either A.) finally played up to their potential, B) isn't very good but killed us anyway, or C) all of the above people are again reacting emotionally.
So, just for a moment, calm down everyone, and realize that our team is right where we thought we would be. If we beat Purdue next week,like I think we will, that will put us at 6-4 with two tough games against Wisconsin and Ohio State, teams that should beat us if they play well. So we end 6-6. Right about where 2/3 of us thought we would be.
As I said last June, "This [6-6] might seem bad, but considering a brand new scheme on defense and a reliance on young players, it’s not too bad. Especially when a few games could go our way (ND, Iowa, and MSU) and quickly change it to a 9-3 record. Realistic expectations are important."
Well, ND went our way, I was wrong on Penn State, and we almost pulled it off against Iowa and Michigan State. We have a new scheme on defense with limted talent, and our young players are playing like young players. 6-6 is realistic, and let's not lose our shit if that happens. The nature of college football lends itself to highly emotional reactions, and that's okay. But if we slow down enough to use calm objectivity, we see that we're living up to expectations.
My original diary: http://mgoblog.com/diaries/realistic-2009-prediction
Midway through the season, I can see that calm objectivity is helpful in making predictions, and now can see that its equally helpful in keeping things in perspective during the whirlwind of emotions in a college football season.
Looking at the predictions, I'm 5/6, with my one incorrect prediction being a win against Notre Dame when I expected the Irish' offense to outscore us. Without Forcier's heroics, I would have been correct. Looking forward, my fear of Illinois' offense seems unwarranted, while my dismissal of Purdue as a threat seems hasty. I stand by my prediction of an upset at home against Penn State, as well as my predictions against Wisconsin and Ohio State.
The point? We're still on course for a 6-6 or 7-5 regular season record. So if we do end up there, keep a level head and understand the progress we've made this season and don't be THAT GUY that complains about a late season collapse. Rodriguez has this team on track, and Michigan will be kicking ass with him at the helm for the forseeable future.
As lamented by all, it's a terribly long offseason. Here's an attempt at generating semi-meaningful discussion: how do you expect our season to go? My week-to-week breakdown:
Western Michigan - The Broncos are at a severe talent deficit and must replace 7 starters on defense, including Detroit's 3rd pick, Louis Delmas. Look for a potential scare if Michigan's defense struggles with new personnel and new scheme. M's offense should be fine, despite a true freshman likely starting at QB.
Notre Dame - Notre Dame is incredibly talented. Whether or not that will translate to points is another question. I personally feel Clausen is better than many people give him credit for. His first year was a wash because of his porous offensive line. Look for a surge from the Irish. Our offense will likely need to win this game, and that's a tall order for a true freshman QB. It helps that we're at home, but I give ND the edge. 55-45% to the Irish. (Remember we outgained ND by 120+ yards last year. If our D steps up we win, but I don't think it'll happen.)
Eastern Michigan – No worries here. The Eagles return 16 starters from a team that finished 2-6 in the MAC. Barring another Toledo-esque meltdown, we win easily. The only way we lose is if shaky quarterback play and a complete meltdown on defense happens. Knock on wood, we should win.
Indiana – The Big Ten opener features undaunting Indiana. Indiana was lousy last year and is installing the Pistol offense. With Kellen Lewis being dismissed and Marcus Thigpen graduating, Indiana has no real playmaker. By now our defense should be getting its footing and our young quarterback will be improving, especially with the friendly confines of the Big House.
at Michigan State – The first road test for a freshman QB usually doesn’t bode well. MSU has to replace Javon Ringer, but I think they should be adequate enough to beat us. A few big plays from the offense and solid play from the defense will be enough for us to get the win. Unfortunately, I doubt we can count on both.
at Iowa – This game is likely a toss-up. Iowa does have to replace Shonn Greene, but their offensive line looks excellent. They return 8 starters on defense, but lost both defensive tackles. Iowa’s lack of offensive firepower gives us a shot, but one bad play from the defense could quickly foil M. Playing at Kinnick Stadium doesn’t help a freshman QB either (DIE, Dead Horse, DIE!!). Edge to Iowa.
Delaware State – I’m not going to say anything to jinx us. If we prepare properly, don’t take them lightly, and compete on Saturday, we win. As long as our players are aware that just showing up isn’t enough, we’ll be fine.
Penn State – This is a game we should actually win. Darryl Clark and Royster are very good, but four starters on the line have departed and a trio of receivers must be replaced. Add in a dysfunctional secondary and severe losses at DE, plus a little help from a friendly home crowd and you have the makings of an upset. Despite last year, we still own Penn State.
at Illinois – I fear this game could get ugly. The Big Ten’s best offense awaits us in Champaign. We simply don’t have an answer for Juice, Benn, and Florida transfer Jarred Fayson, among others. If we win, it’ll be in a shootout. Not likely considering our young QB(horse is still dead, though well-beaten) and the road atmosphere.
Purdue – A home game we should win. Purdue lost Painter and potential starter Justin Siller at QB. Only four players on offense return and the defense can’t stop the run. We bounce back and roll over Purdue.
at Wisconsin – The Badgers have a lot of question marks, making this game a toss-up. The road atmosphere will make it tough to win. The Badgers should be able to run effectively with John Clay against a suspect interior Michigan line. I think the Badgers will win, unless they have a meltdown on defense, similar to the one they had against us in the second half of last year’s game. Edge to Wisconsin.
Ohio State – That team is still loaded with talent. We have to contain Brandon Saine, if he’s healthy, as well as Pryor. We will need our corners to lock down on that team’s receivers, man-to-man, in order to do so. Big plays will likely win this game, and M’s defense needs limit to mistakes. Again, a freshman QB will need to play very well. Thankfully, this one is in the Big House. Edge to the other team.
Total record: 6-6
This might seem bad, but considering a brand new scheme on defense and a reliance on young players, it’s not too bad. Especially when a few games could go our way (ND, Iowa, and MSU) and quickly change it to a 9-3 record. Realistic expectations are important.