July 12, 2010

Ohio State is U-M's toughest game; UMass easiest

The last time Michigan had a legitimate shot at beating Ohio State the Wolverines fell in a 42-39 shootout during the 2006 season. Since then, the rivalry has been one-sided. If U-M wants to best the Buckeyes this fall, it may have to win a high-scoring affair this time around ...








http-equiv="content-type">



cellspacing="2">
style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">

style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">style="font-weight: bold;">Massachusetts: The sacrificial lamb
on the schedule, UMass is a FCS school coming off a disappointing 5-6
campaign after starting the 2009 season ranked No. 18 nationally. The
Minutemen must replace 14 starters. This is a paycheck game for them
and should be every bit as ugly as last year's embarrassing 63-6 win
over Delaware State.



Chance of Winning: 100
percent

style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">

style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">style="font-weight: bold;">Bowling Green: This isn't one of
those Mid-American Conference teams, like Central Michigan, Marshall
(back in the day) or … ugh … Toledo, that is capable of springing an
upset. This a Bowling Green team that said goodbye to its top three
players - quarterback Tyler Sheehan, receiver Freddie Barnes and tight
end Jimmy Scheidler - while 11 other starters also departed. At best,
BGSU should aim to stay within three touchdowns of the Wolverines.



Chance of Winning: 99
percent

style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">

style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">style="font-weight: bold;">Illinois: Michigan has a score to
settle with the Fighting Illini after last year's debacle effectively
tore the heart out of that Maize and Blue team (and cost U-M a bowl
game). Ron Zook might be one of the worst coaches in the country and
was rumored to be on the hot seat a year ago. He did just enough to
earn a second (and final) chance but he'll have to pull a rabbit out of
a hat with a quarterback situation that appears to be the Big Ten's
worst. The Illini also don't appear to have the personnel defensively
to match up with what should be a high-scoring Michigan offense.



Chance of Winning: 80
percent

style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">

style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">style="font-weight: bold;">Purdue: The Boilermakers can't
really beat Michigan three years in a row, can they? That hasn't
happened since a five-game stretch from 1962-66, yet it's a very real
possibility. U-M's past two losses to Purdue have been some of the most
frustrating in the last two years because both times the Wolverines
played well enough offensively - scoring 42 points and 36 points - but
suffered huge defensive letdowns. PU's offense does not appear to be as
prolific this season, starting a new quarterback while tailback Ralph
Bolden is still recovering from a torn ACL in May. However, Purdue does
have an improving defense and welcomes the Maize and Blue to West
Lafayette.



Chance of Winning: 70
percent

style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">

style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">style="font-weight: bold;">Indiana: One of my colleagues has
expressed great concern about Michigan's short ride down to
Bloomington, and he could be right. No one will expect the Maize and
Blue to fall to the Hoosiers; it hasn't happened since 1987 (a span of
16 games) but IU had U-M on the brink of defeat a year ago and only
fell due to some late-game heroics from Tate Forcier and a dynamic
game-clinching interception from Donovan Warren. Quarterback Ben
Chappell will lead an underrated passing attack featuring receivers
Tandon Doss and Damarlo Belcher. This is a team that now believes it
can beat Michigan and will salivate at the thought of the Wolverines on
their turf a week before U-M plays Michigan State.



Chance of Winning: 65
percent

style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">

style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">style="font-weight: bold;">Connecticut: If all
you see when you look at the name UConn is a basketball school that has
been a Division I program for less than a decade, you're asking for a
comeuppance But look deeper than
that and you see a talented roster that handled South Carolina in a
bowl game a year ago, has experience against spread offenses like West
Virginia, Cincinnati and Louisville and will be hungry to make their
mark with, perhaps, the biggest win in school history. With the
possibility of Denard Robinson starting his first game at quarterback
also, the Huskies have to like their chances.



Chance of Winning: 60
percent
style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">

style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">style="font-weight: bold;">Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish
tandem of wideout Michael Floyd and tight end Kyle Rudolph might be the
nation's best receiving pair and could wreak havoc against U-M's
unproven defensive backfield. However, ND junior quarterback Dayne
Crist, less than a year removed from major knee surgery and immersed in
a spread offense he wasn't recruited for, remains a question mark.
There is also the other side of the ball, which has been as big of a
train wreck as Michigan's defense the past two seasons. The visage of
Touchdown Jesus in the background, though, usually provides some
momentum for Notre Dame.



Chance of Winning: 50
percent

style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">

style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">style="font-weight: bold;">Michigan State: Michigan's little
brother has enjoyed a growth spurt the past two seasons and is at that
age where he's getting a few good licks in. How long will that last?
Michigan fans hope not very long. The Spartans return 13 starters,
including a talented offensive backfield that includes quarterback Kirk
Cousins and tailback Larry Caper. Linebacker Greg Jones is a stud on
the other side of the ball, but he's surrounded by an underwhelming
supporting cast that could have trouble stopping the Wolverines'
offense. Still, until U-M ends its in-state skid at two, the Green and
White will carry the confidence of knowing they can win.



Chance of Winning: 50
percent

style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">

style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">style="font-weight: bold;">Penn State: The Nittany Lions might
just prove the Big Ten's most overrated team this fall. Not in the
sense they are bad, but simply that they are not a top-three or four
team this season like predicted, with key losses at quarterback,
offensive line and linebacker. However, winning in State College, Pa.,
is no easy task and by Oct. 30, Penn State should be a much more
formidable opponent than they appear today. If the QB situation hasn't
been solved by then, though, Michigan could restart its winning streak
over PSU.



Chance of Winning: 40
percent

style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">

style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">style="font-weight: bold;">Wisconsin: Though he experimented
briefly with the idea of become more passer-friendly, had coach Bret
Bielema has returned Wisconsin to its roots as a big, bad
run-you-over-type team. And he can get away with that thanks to an
offensive line that averages better than 310 pounds per man blocking
for a 6-1, 248-pound tailback that maintains 4.5 speed. Michigan's
3-3-5 defense will see its fiercest challenge in attempting to defend
UW's rushing attack and we all remember how poorly that turned out for
U-M a year ago (45-24 loss). The Badgers also boast a pretty darn good
defense, led by sophomore linebacker Chris Borland.



Chance of Winning: 35
percent

style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">

style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">style="font-weight: bold;">Iowa: Like pitching in baseball, a
great defense is so often more important than a great offense, shutting
down even the most dangerous attacks. The Hawkeyes return eight
starters from a defensive unit that ranked among the top-10 units in
the country in 2009. U-M did battle Iowa tough a year ago, falling by
only two, and gets the Kirk Ferentz's team at home, but the discrepancy
in defensive potential appears too significant (for now) for the Maize
and Blue to overcome.



Chance of Winning:  25
percent

style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">

style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">style="font-weight: bold;">Ohio State: Michigan hasn't bested
its rival in six tries and there is little hope of that terrible
drought ending in 2010. The talent gap, especially defensively, still
appears a bit too large while tripping to Columbus, where U-M is just
3-6-1 in its last 10, also hinders the opportunity for victory. The
Wolverines' best hope will likely center on winning an offensive
shootout - akin to the one they lost in 2006.



Chance of Winning: 10
percent









...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!