NOTE: I've been contemplating this diary entry for a couple of weeks now, and with the release (and posting and re-posting and re-re-posting) of the pre-season coaches poll, now seems like the perfect time.
This diary will give you a game by game Win and Loss prediction of what I expect UM to do this season. HOWEVA, it will also provide a projection as to where I expect UM to be at in the coaches poll. In addition, I also detailed what I believe the (ever-changing) fans' expectations for the season will be. This was the tricky (and fun) part of this diary because as we all know, expectations can and will change during the season. If you don't believe me, see the 2009 Detroit Tigers. Remember in Spring Training, most fans would have loved to just be in contention in August. But now, if they don't win the division, most fans will be disappointed. But let's get back to UM football...Stage 0: How many more days til the games start?
Record: 0 - 0
Poll Projections: The coaches poll was just released. Only 1 coach projects us to be in the top 25 (and this was probably RR). Overall, around #57 in the country. Not very good. http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/rankings?pollId=2&seasonYear=2009
Fans' Expectations: Most fans (gauging from various message boards and informal conversations with other UM fans) expect us to be anywhere from 5-7 (pessimists), 9-3 (optimists), but more likely 7-5 (realists). Motor City Bowl...hey we'll take it and be happy with it.
Game 1: Western Michigan W 42 - 17
Game 2: Notre Dame W 31 - 27Stage 1: Hey, we're better than last year!
Record: 2 - 0 (0 - 0)
Poll Projections: I believe that after a nationally televised victory over a ranked Irish team, the coaches (along with the rest of the country) will take notice. We will definitely get some votes for the top 25. How many, not really sure. But this big win should be enough to break us into the party at around #24 or so.
Fans' Expectations: On MGoBlog, there will be some crazed lunatics that will be predicting 13-0 saying that this team is better than '97. While others, in an attempt to bring them off the ledge, will go overboard themselves in the opposite direction, and overly downgrade the good start to the season. But all in all, the fans' consensus will be it's a good start, but let's not get too excited yet. We will still be happy with any bowl, but we secretly have left our calendars open for New Year's Day, just in case.
Game 3: Eastern Michigan W 52 - 10
Game 4: Indiana W 38 - 24
Game 5: @ MSU W 24 - 20Stage 2: WEEE'RE BAAACK!! And WE BAD AS HELL!!
Record: 5 - 0 (2 - 0)
Poll Projections: The nation is buzzing with UM talk now. RR is all over ESPN and for a good reason for once. We are steadily moving up the coaches' poll, and at 5-0, this puts us around #13 in the country. Surprisingly, we have 1 number one vote. (RR strikes again!)
Fans' Expectations: We are all overjoyed. You see UM t-shirts, hats, banners and car flags everywhere you go. The internets is full of talk about BCS bowl berths and dare we speak, even NC game appearances. We totally rule MSU and Mike Valenti takes a personal leave from 97.1 after his head explodes. Some fans even take to talking trash on OSU message boards in anticipation of the Big Game on 11/21. There is no stopping us now, RR is king!!!
Game 6: at Iowa L 31 - 14
Game 7: Deleware St. W 41 - 3Stage 3: So, I guess we're not going to go undefeated after all...
Record: 6 - 1 (2 - 1)
Poll Projections: Losing at Iowa at night is not a bad loss, all things considering. We fall a bit, but still are solidly ranked at around #16.
Fans' Expectations: You can't win em' all, right? I mean, we DO have 2 true freshman quarterbacks and this was their first time leaving the great State of Michigan, and it was their first ever dreaded NIGHT game, and hey, they just had a bad game, right? All is not doomed. The fans are still excited. The BCS is still within our reach.
Game 8: Penn State L 31 - 30
Game 9: at Illinois L 45 - 21Stage 4: RR SUCKS! I knew he couldn't compete in the BIG 11
Record: 6 - 3 (2 - 3)
Poll Projections: We've lost 3 of 4 games. At 6-3 in a below average Big 11, and with blowout road losses to Iowa and Illinois, and a close loss to PSU, we haven't really beaten anyone good (ND doesn't count, sorry Irish). The coaches drop us out of the polls, but we still get some votes and are around #30 in the country.
Fans' Expectations: Like Wojo would say, "Panic in Ann Arbor-town! Panic in Ann Arbor-town!" (a WDFN oldbit) The magical luster of a once promising great season has dwindled. That blowout at Illinois was a disaster. An unusually high number of posts with the the letters "wtf" are recorded on MGoBlog. What the hell is going on!
The crazies are loose and you hear words like, disappointment, let-down, underachievers, etc. Rational fans try to convince us that we are a good, young team, but just not ready to compete with the big boys, not yet. But they are quickly drowned out by the louder fanatics. Mike Valenti mysteriously arises and reminds us all that he said all along that Michigan was overrated and that MSU was going to be rebuilding this year.
Game 10: Purdue W 49 - 31
Game 11: at Wisconsin W 30 - 23Stage 5: Okay, I guess we'll be alright
Record: 8 - 3 (4 - 3)
Poll Projections: 2 straight meh victories, but they still count at W's. We are ranked again at #20 as the coaches finally realize exactly who we are.
Fans' Expectations: Okay, that's more like it. 8-3 is pretty good and we are stabilized in the coaches' poll. The Big 10 championship and BCS talk has disappeared, but we have a good shot at an excellent New Year's Day bowl. Orlando and Cap1 Bowl sounds pretty good! Fans' expectations calm down as we all prepare for the Big Game. For the most part, the fans are pretty happy.
Game 12: O$U (It's petty, I know, but it's fun to type) L 24 - 20Stage 6: We lost the Big Game, AGAIN : (
Record: 8 - 4 (4 - 4)
Poll Projections: Everyone saw it coming. We competed really well, but there's no such thing as a moral victory or a good loss. Except, in the eyes of the coaches' poll. We stand pat at #20 and finish the season there. Not bad, all things considering.
Fans' Expectations: Even though you hate to admit it, OSU is just a better team than us right now. But, our time is coming. All the naysayers have switched their focus from RR being a terrible coach and possibly getting fired at season's end to when will he ever beat OSU? They question if he can ever win a big game and they bring up examples of the WVU-Pitt debacle from a couple years ago. But most fans stand up for their program. We can see improvements from the beginning of the season to now in terms of the offense, defense, ST, and coaching. And when compared to last year, the comparison is like night and day, a dramatic improvement.
An invitation to the Outback or Capital One bowl is accepted (depending on how good Illinois and Iowa are) and the fans are "partying like its 1999" cause we need a good Florida vacation. All in all, a very entertaining season and hopefully, one that will foretell good things to come in the near future.
Thanks for reading along....only 27 days, 21 hours, 32 minutes, and 55 seconds until we play some M football.