No two ways about it, 2013 was a big step backwards for the Michigan Wolverines’ program under Brady Hoke. After two great recruiting classes and an appearance in the 2012 Sugar Bowl the Wolverines were supposed to be competing for national championships once again.
Instead, as we enter the 2014 season, the Maize ‘N Blue are just looking to find a way to win more than eight games for the first time since that Sugar Bowl season.
With a new offensive coordinator, a new-look offensive line and the best skill position player transitioning from tight end to wide receiver there are a lot of uncertainties surrounding the Wolverines. Yet, hope remains high that this is the year things get back to normal in Ann Arbor.
Do we share in that hope? Let’s take a look at the Michigan schedule and give you our predictions.
Aug. 30 – vs. Appalachian State: WIN
The last time these two met at the Big House it was 2007 and the college football world was turned upside down as the Mountaineers pulled off one of the most historic upsets in the history of the game. That date has defined these programs since, as Michigan has spun in to being just another program and Appalachian State has gone from the FCS to FBS. Look for this to be the chance for Michigan to erase the bad juju of that loss and start a new chapter. Appalachian State may be on the same level, but they aren’t on the same playing field as Michigan. Maize ‘N Blue big in this season opener.
Sept. 6 – at Notre Dame: LOSS
It’s a shame what expansion and Notre Dame’s unwillingness to fully immerse itself in conference affiliation is doing to this historic rivalry. This is the last time we’ll see these two proud programs meet, and you can bet Notre Dame is going to be out for revenge after last season’s loss in Ann Arbor. It just so happens that having Everett Golson back will make all the difference for the Irish, as they take the final game in this series and begin to put doubts in peoples heads about just where Michigan stand once again.
Sept. 13 – vs. Miami (OH): WIN
Even a few years ago this would’ve been a hell of a test by a MAC program, but the Redhawks aren’t who they once were on the field anymore. Michigan simply has the firepower to handle the Redhawks and should take care of business quick in this matchup. No more repeats of Akron coming this season under Doug Nussmeier and his offense.
Sept. 20 – vs. Utah: WIN
The Utes haven’t been the same since joining the Pac-12, but that’s largely been because they have had no stability at quarterback. Don’t sleep on the Utah defense in this one. Expect a low-scoring affair and perhaps the dullest game of the Wolverines season, but they pull it out at home.
Sept. 27 – vs. Minnesota: WIN
Jerry Kill has stated rivalries can really only exist if both teams are winning games. Well, consider this not a rivalry then as U-M has won 28 of the last 30 matchups and are on a current six-game win streak. With this game at the Big House for a second straight year that will move to seven, but in a much closer fashion than last year thanks to an improved Gophers offense.
Oct. 4 – at Rutgers: WIN
Two of the oldest programs in college football history tangle in Piscataway for the first time ever. As long as the offensive line has its issues figured out this should be an easy win for the Wolverines, as their defense can carry them to a victory in a game against Rutgers this season. Give me U-M by two touchdowns at least.
Oct. 11 – vs. Penn State: WIN
A famous coin-flip for me once again, as these two teams are pretty equal on paper and last season’s matchup needs to be thrown out of the window. If Penn State can throw the ball early this could be trouble for the Wolverines. However, I see the secondary up to the challenge this time around and expect them to win by a touchdown to 10 points, especially with this one at home.
Oct. 25 – at Michigan State: LOSS
If Michigan wants to prove it really is back (considering I have them with a 6-1 start which means national media will salivate all over them) it needs to beat its in-state rivals. Unfortunately this is in enemy territory and the Spartans are a much more well-oiled machine on offense. This comes down to the better run game and that belongs to MSU in my view. Michigan is foiled once again by its in-state brethren.
Nov. 1 – vs. Indiana: WIN
This game scares the crap out of me, because we all saw Indiana nearly bite the Wolverines last season before the Wolverines found a way to get two touchdowns in the final six minutes of the game. If these two teams are like we think they are…well, we could be in for a wild ride once again, just not the same score line. Look for Michigan to pull it out at home by a touchdown.
Nov. 8 – at Northwestern: WIN
If you’ve paid attention to either of these teams the past few years, then you know to expect a great game. Too bad I’m going against conventional wisdom here and see the Wolverines looking at a need to win out to make the Big Ten title game. That means a focused performance and a big win on the road against a team that’s been a thorn in its side.
Nov. 22 – vs. Maryland: LOSS
With a week off before this one it should be a cakewalk, but it also means an extra week for the media to start talking about the game after this one — against Ohio (as Hoke would say). Sorry Michigan fans, but you’re team is caught napping in this one and Maryland proves it can compete with anyone in the Big Ten.
Nov. 29 – at Ohio State: LOSS
Ohio State likely needs a win and some help to get in to the Big Ten title game, and hosting the Wolverines is a huge advantage in this matchup. Everyone will focus on J.T. Barrett’s first start in “The Game,” but he will have already played in some massive games, enough to be able to survive this crazy rivalry in my opinion. Ohio State is just too talented and has too much on the line to lose this one at home. If so, expect this to spark a new era of hatred between these two teams…more than already exists.
Overall Record: 8-4
Big Ten Record: 5-3