It’s a topic that I am sure every Michigan fan has considered heading into this fall; after a disappointing 3-9 record last year, how many wins will the Wolverine’s have in 2009? Clearly there are an innumerable # of factors that can be considered and we are months from the opener verse Western Michigan. But it’s never too early to do a logical rundown of the 2009 schedule.
9/05 Western Michigan – last year’s Broncos enjoyed a good season in the MAC, finishing 6-2 in conference play and 9-4 overall. The results in the off season was that Western gave its coach Bill Cubit a new 5 year contract on the same day they lost to Rice 38-14 in the Texas Bowl. The team had great success at home (5-0), beat Illinois at Ford Field, and earned its second consecutive bowl appearance. Overall Western welcomes back 7 starters on Offense and 3 or 4 on Defense, and starting QB Tim Hiller. All joking aside regarding the last two home opener’s, this one should be a WIN – Michigan has superior talent to limit the WMU offense and the team should be very well prepared. Michigan, 1-0
9/12 Notre Dame – Michigan has enjoyed great success against ND in the last few years, and last years rain soaked game was the perfect storm for the young Michigan team. ND returns virtually their entire offense including Clausen and Tate, and a healthy # of defensive players. This is clearly a pivotal season for Weiss esp. after last year’s – MEH season (7-6) that included an embarrassing loss to Syracuse (adv. Mich DC). ND will be coming off their own opener against a good Nevada team with a high powered offense so there can be no assumption that both teams will be 1-0. Michigan dominated the last home game between these two and there will no doubt be a Clausen/Tate v. Stevie Brown moment. I like to think this one is a tossup in the end so I will handicap it. Michigan 1.5-.5
9/19 Eastern Michigan – I would like to think that this one should go smoothly, and that with two games under our belt this team should have an idea who is under center and there should be no problem with a EMU team that went 2-6 in conference and 3-9 overall (familiar?). Michigan 2.5-.5
9/26 Indiana, Big Ten opener, fourth straight home game, and a team Michigan desperately wishes was on its 2008 schedule (1-7, 3-9). At this point, both teams will have played WMU, so we will certainly have a measuring stick leading up to this game. IU no longer has a QB controversy, as Chappell will be their leader – Kellen Lewis has switched to WR…Reports indicate that IU has a new offense referred to as the “Pistol”, which involves shotgun, the tailback BEHIND the QB, and incorporates the no-huddle. WTF? Indiana has more to overcome than even Michigan does, and this is a home game… Michigan 3.5-.5
10/03 Michigan State, definitely one to circle on the early half of the schedule and the team should certainly be motivated after last year’s loss… For the team, it will be their first game away from Ann Arbor and little brother will certainly put up a big fight after last year’s win. The Spartans (9-4, 6-2) lost QB Brian Hoyer and RB Javon Ringer, but still have seven offensive and eight defensive starters back. Dantonio has recently signaled that the starting QB race between Kirk Cousins and Keith Nichol could go all the way into the 2009 season. Cousins has limited game experience as a backup last year and Nichol is a transfer from Oklahoma (from Lowell, MI). Overall this one could go either way… If you go with the logic that Michigan has better talent and should be much improved, then you can be optimistic that they should be in this game… If you think Dantonio is a good coach and is building something at MSU then you are probably pessimistic about our chances. By gameday each team will be well into the season and we will have more answers. Give it to State today, but my heart says a toss-up. Michigan 3.5-1.5
10/10 Iowa, another road game and this one is against a Big Ten team that started 3-3 last year, but finished with a string of big wins including a big one over PSU (also most of their losses were close). Returning QB in Stanzi, who with improvement could be very solid, and good LB core. Tough for Michigan but for the time being we will give it to Iowa… 3.5-2.5
10/17 Delaware State, defer to Brian’s preview around the time they were scheduled. Home game, anything but a win mid season in this one would be a complete embarrassment. 4.5-2.5.
10/24 Penn State, this year @ home, Nick Sheridan should wear street clothes for this one. PSU will have strengths at all the key positions, and Evan Royster by this time should be having a hell of a season. They lose a lot at WR, OL, and Defense, but this is a very talented team. This game hinges on QB play and hopefully the home crowd and a fast start can assist Michigan. PSU has to be a clear favorite in this game. 4.5-3.5
10/31 Illinois, definitely an explosive offense and a road game down in Champagne. Juice is finally a Senior, but future dual threat QB Eddie McGee has been getting time in the slot, so Michigan will get a look at him either way… The Illini sucked last year, except when they roared past UofM, overall their explosive Offense is mostly intact from last year (individual yardage record by Juice at the Big House last year) and this game could end up being a barn burner. I don’t like this one unless the Offense is really clicking, but both teams are coming off poor seasons. Toss-up. Michigan 5-4
11/07 Purdue, hopefully after a good showing at Illinois this is a welcomed home game after a nice win. Michigan could have beaten Purdue last year, except for their one game offensive explosion. Joe Tiller is out the door and replaced by Danny Hope. The offense of the Drew Brees era is long gone and Purdue like Michigan has a laundry list of possible QBs. This one should be a great home game for Michigan. 6-4
11/14 Wisconsin, we stunk in the first half vs. Wisco last year, and several miracles occurred in the second half. They lose PJ Hill (John Clay may be a good enough replacement) who was falling apart and neither their offense nor defense is very spectacular (6 or so returning starters on each). If this was a home game I would figure Michigan for a great shot at victory, I have never been a Beilema fan so maybe I am being too optimistic. But I think a surging Michigan team can win this game. I won’t go too crazy though and will just leave this as a toss-up. 6.5-4.5
11/21 OSU, so many story lines… 5 game losing streak to OSU, Pryor’s first Big House Trip, a Michigan team maybe looking to be bowl eligible. OSU should be good, they return a lot of starters though they lose Laurinaitis and Jenkins on defense. Pryor who had a great frosh campaign should have some good seasoning… hate to say in but they are the conference favorite. Hold it right there… Bo beat an undefeated OSU in his first season, and according to RR’s track record, last year really shouldn’t count as much more than a long series of scrimmages. This game is the biggest of them all and there should be a lot of pride on the line after last year’s embarrassing second half. The week leading up to this game kills my work productivity even when we are the prohibitive underdog. I have to say OSU at this point, but I am hoping for a good level of optimism. 6.5-5.5
Overall I am an optimist, I think we beat either ND or MSU in the first half of the season (both are winnable) and I think we WIN at Illinois in a shootout. I am optimistic that we will be 7-5 next year. However, I think that if we find the luck we never got last year – we have a shot at 8-4, and a Max at 9-3… Our bottom I think is known, there are 4 games on the schedule that should be wins (WMU, EMU, D.State, Indiana) without much contest and that we have to win at least one other game. So 5 wins would be our basement in my opinion.
It’s early… But what are your thoughts?
Also, to my loser friend Rob who reads this blog and refuses to get a login, YOU SUCK!