Michigan is just about ready to open their season against Alabama on Saturday, September 1st. That is just the first of many tough games for the 2012 season as Michigan has one of the hardest schedules in college football this year.
Michigan only has 6 home games, 3 of the road games are at night, against Alabama, Notre Dame, and Nebraska. Michigan will also play Ohio State at the “Shoe”. After coming off an 11-2 season and a BCS Sugar Bowl victory, Michigan could potentially have a better team than they did in 2011, but finish with a worse record.
They should still contend for the Legends Division crown and the Big 10 championship though. Here is a preview of some key games (Alabama, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State) that could make or break the 2012 season.
September 1st: Alabama at the Jerry Dome (night)
Tough game to open up the season, which will pretty much be an Alabama home game. Alabama comes in losing a lot of talent to the NFL, but still has the depth to be able to reload and be considered the preseason #2. If you have to face Alabama, week 1 is the best possible time to face them while the team is still inexperienced and trying to find their groove.
Alabama has one of the best offensive lines in football, so the question is rather Michigan’s D-line can get any pressure on the QB or be able to stop the running game. Alabama QB, AJ McCarron is more of a game manager and not too much of a threat. Heisman candidate Trent Richardson is also gone so I think Michigan’s defense can hold Alabama in check.
On the flip side, can Michigan’s dynamic offense be able to move the ball on Bama’s defense? Alabama’s defense might be a little raw, but they have talent and are athletic freaks. The starting 4 linebackers for Bama are listed at 6-6 248 lbs, 6-3 262 lbs, 6-2 242 lbs, and 6-3 245 lbs. They are built like defensive ends and can run like cornerbacks.
This will make an interesting match against Denard and company. I think Michigan does have a chance in this game, although not sure how great of a chance. If they limit the mistakes and turnovers, Michigan could pull off the upset and set the stage for a great season.
September 22: at Notre Dame (night)
Michigan travels to the campus of Jesus for a rematch under the lights. The last 2 years these 2 teams played have been wildly entertaining with Michigan mounting a comeback in the end to come out victorious. Michigan has won the last 3 meetings and will try to make it 4 in a row.
Notre Dame is having some preseason issues currently. They have been trying to determine a starting QB, one of their QB’s was arrested early this summer, and they just suspended their RB to start the season. Notre Dame coach, Brian Kelly, is under pressure to win, especially against Michigan.
I would expect another exciting game. With it being a night game, under the lights, the ND fans should be drunk and loud. However, I think Michigan is on the up, while Notre Dame is on the decline.
October 20: Michigan State at the Big House
MSU comes to the Big House trying to make it 5 in a row, while Michigan tries to keep the world from exploding by returning things back to their proper place in life’s pecking order. The one big advantage for Michigan is home field. This is a very important game for both schools and could easily determine the Legends Division champs.
The rivalry has grown in importance since the conference split and you will be able to see the intensity and nastiness on the field. This matchup will come down to defense, defense, defense. Can Michigan and Denard get by the MSU defense, which should be one of the best in the country?
Can the inexperience of MSU’s QB (Maxwell) and the wide receivers be able to get by a greatly improved Michigan defense? State’s calling card is it’s defense, which was rated in the top 10 last year. But Michigan’s defense is not to be ignored, coming in as the 17th ranked total defense last year.
While MSU ranked 10th in scoring defense in 2011, allowing 18.4 points per game, Michigan only allowed 17.4 points per game, ranked 6th. State had the better defense, but Michigan actually gave up fewer points per game on average. Defensive turnovers where the same for both teams, ending the 2011 season at a +7 margin.
And if you want to know, on offense, State scored an average of 31.0 points per game, while Michigan put up 33.4. All said, this should be a good game. Denard will be hungry to get his first win against MSU and with the home crowd behind him, Michigan should have the advantage in this game.
October 27: at Nebraska (night)
Michigan will travel to Nebraska for another game under the lights. Nebraska will be pumped up for this game and will want blood after Michigan took the Huskers to pound town last year, winning 45-17.
Nebraska should be a better team after adjusting to the Big 10 last year. Key players Taylor Martinez (QB) and Rex Burkhead (RB) both are returning for another year.
Playing at Nebraska, at night, should make it a little more difficult for Michigan to leave with a victory. But, Michigan should also have the better team and will have the experience from playing night games in hostile territory before.
November 24: Ohio State at the “Shoe”
Meyer vs. Hoke, round 1. The start of the new coaching rivalry. Be ready to hear every Michigan/OSU, Bo/Woody cliche this week. For OSU, this is their bowl game since they are suspended from going to any bowl games this year for being dirty cheaters.
Ohio State sucks, the state of Ohio sucks, Urban Meyer sucks, lies, and cheats. And I am not being biased.