Monday, August 20, 2007

2007 Michigan Preview: The Schedule

So much goes into determining how many games a team will win or lose in any given year, but it seems to me that many people forget to look at the schedule they will face. Scheduling certainly isn't forgotten at the end of the year, however, when people try to analyze bowl matchups based on who played who.

Unlike 2006 where Michigan had road trips to Columbus, South Bend, and Happy Valley, the 2007 Michigan Wolverines will have a lot of home cooking against their top opponents. This should help a young defense establish a rhythm. Game by game...

APPALACHIAN STATE - In 2006, App State went 12-1 and won the "formerly known as D-1AA" Championship Subdivision National Title. They gave a bad NC State team a slight scare in Raleigh before falling 23-10. This year, they get to serve as roadkill for Michigan's home opener. It can be a little hard to peg just how good the Mountaineers are. For one thing, they are the best of the best in D-1AA. But really, that's just like being the tallest midget if you ask me. Expect Michigan to win handily just like if they were playing a directional school from the MAC.

Michigan's chances of winning? 98%

OREGON - In 2006, the Ducks lost their last 4 games of the season to finish 7-6. They have playmakers on offense including TB Jonathan Stewart and QB Dennis Dixon and WR Jaison Williams. On defense, however, they might have trouble stopping Michigan's potent ground game as they ranked 78th nationally in rushing defense in 2006. If you are so inclined, you can also tune in to see former all everything recruit Cam Colvin who is still just a reserve WR for the Ducks. This might turn into a high scoring affair, but Michigan is the more well rounded team and playing at home.

Michigan's chances of winning? 80%

NOTRE DAME - The Fighting Irish had an interesting season in 2006. They played three top 10 opponents and got blown off the field in dominant fashion by all three of them (LSU, USC, Michigan) surrendering 41+ points to each. They were, however, able to win every other game on the schedule. In 2007, they lose most of their great offense and will be replacing their QB, RB, WRs, and some of the OL amongst others. It's hard to know what to expect in this game. Notre Dame and Michigan usually play tight games and you know they will be trying to get some revenge for the ass kicking last year. However, Michigan has a better offense and a more talented defense and is playing at home. You cannot expect Notre Dame to win this game.

Michigan's chances of winning? 85%

PENN STATE - The Nittany Lions were decent in 2006 and quite similar to Notre Dame. They played four good teams in the regular season and were beaten by all four and won the rest of their games before ekeing out a win over Tennessee in the Citrus Bowl. This year, however, they replace a some of their best players from last year including Tony Hunt and Paul Pozluszny and they are still straddled with Anthony Morelli at the helm. It's hard to believe he's already a senior having accomplished so little thus far in his career, but this is his last go 'round the conference. The last time Michigan lost to Penn State as 1996 and that was a very long time ago. You know the streak will end at some point, but not this year.

Michigan's chances of winning? 85%

@ Northwestern - In 2006, Northwestern finished 4-8 on the season with only conference wins over Iowa and Illinois. They return the talented TB Tyrell Sutton, but honestly there isn't much talent in Evanston. Michigan traditionally has a nice group of Chicago alums show up to support the team against Northwestern and their is little reason to expect a loss this year.

Michigan's chances of winning? 93%

EASTERN MICHIGAN - The Eagles were brutal in 2006, finishing 1-11 on the season. The Battle of Washtenaw County will once again be a lopsided affair in 2007 with loads of garbage time. The timing of this game is kind of nice after the tough three game stretch with Oregon, Notre Dame, and Penn State as it should allow some key players to rest up and be healthy for the rest of the schedule.

Michigan's chances of winning? 99%

PURDUE - The Boilermakers return to the schedule after 2 years off and fresh off an up and down 8-6 season. They have a dangerous offense with QB Curtis Painter passing to some very talented WRs including Dorien Bryant and Selwyn Lymon (who could give Manningham and Arrington a battle for best duo in the conference). On defense, however, there is a lot of work to be done for a unit that ranked 114th nationally in rushing defense in 2006.

Michigan's chances of winning? 90%

@ Illinois - The Fighting Illini only went 2-10 last year, however they did give a scare to both Wisconsin and Ohio State. This will be Ron Zook's 2nd year at the helm and Juice Williams will now be a sophomore at QB. With the supremely talented Arrelious Benn arriving at WR and Rashard Mendenhall at TB there is lots of talent on offense. J Leman leads the defense from MLB, but there isn't much talent around him. So while the Illini offense could give Michigan fits for a while, their D has little chance at slowing down the Michigan attack.

Michigan's chances of winning? 90%

MINNESOTA - The Gophers had another mediocre 2006 finishing 6-7 and finally firing Glen Mason. It's hard to know what to expect from first year HC Tim Brewster, but he does have a little talent to work with. TB Amir Pinnix and WR Ernie Wheelwright both have big play ability. It's hard to expect much out of the Gophers in 2007, though, and the Battle for the Little Brown Jug figures to be one sided.

Michigan's chances of winning? 95%

@ Michigan State - Much like the Gophers, the Spartans stunk in 2006 and fired their coach. It's a shame, really, because John L Smith had such wonderful press conferences. It was always fun to watch him slap himself. And if that wasn't amusing enough you could just watch his team implode every week. I'm sure Mark D'Antonio will be a good coach. It's always a little tough in the first year, however, to completely change the style of play of a team. He wants a more disciplined team that runs a 2 back set and a more traditional offense. With MSU's personnel, that is going to take a little time to get going. Don't expect too much out of the Spartans in 2007.

Michigan's chances of winning? 90%

@ Wisconsin - Now we move on to the super tough portion of the schedule. Wisconsin went 12-1 a season ago and finished in the top 5. Michigan was fortunate enough to hand them their only loss on the season. In 2007, the Badgers replace their leader John Stocco which will be a big loss. However, they do return most of their starters on offense and defense and will surely provide a big test. With a new QB and less than perfect WRs it remains to be seen how well they can test Michigan's biggest weakness in the secondary. TE Travis Beckum is perhaps the best in the land and will be a tough matchup. On defense, Wisconsin will have their hands full with a pair of new safeties matched up against a 4th year senior QB looking to pick them apart with talented weapons all around.

Michigan's chances of winning? 55%

OHIO STATE - The Buckeyes rolled to a 12-0 regular season and the undisputed #1 ranking in all the land before getting steamrolled by a fired up Florida team in the BCS title game. Now they face life without Troy Smith and Tedd Ginn and Anthony Gonzalez and Antonio Pittman and Quinn Pitcock amongst others. Their offense figures to be much more ground oriented in 2007 with Chris Wells leading the way. Defensively, the lose a little off the DL but return most everybody else and should be very good. Tressel will look to get back to teh formula that worked so well for him in 2004 with defense and special teams leading the way. Fortunately for Michigan, they moved the ball up and down the field in Columbus against this same defense and should be able to do the same at home with the same players in 2007. The defense, however, is probably thanking their lucky stars that Wolverine-killer Troy Smith is finally gone.

Michigan's chances of winning? 65%

So what does that look like for the entire season? It comes out to about a 12.9% chance of going undefeated in the regular season. That's a pretty good chance compared to recent seasons, at least in my book. It also works out to an average record of approximately 10.25-1.75, so somewhere around 10-2 or 11-1 looks to be the most likely record. It helps to have a senior QB and it helps to have most of your tough games at home. I'd classify Oregon, Notre Dame, Penn State, Wisconsin, and Ohio State as Michigan's toughest opponents on the season and they get four of the five in Ann Arbor.



Blogger th_goducks94 said...

The way you have it, Michigan is favored to win every game. I don't see how that can be, especially on the road.

And, you definitely have Michigan too high at 80% over Oregon. It should be more like 55-60% over the Ducks.

Mon Aug 20, 04:37:00 PM  
Blogger robert paulson said...

Are you crazy? Michigan has lost 1 OOC game at home since the 1998 season opener, yet you think the Ducks have a 40-45% chance of pulling off the upset? USC is the only team in the country I'd give those odds to in Ann Arbor.

Look, I respect Oregon as a top 20 team with some offensive firepower. However, Michigan is a legit top 5 team playing at home. They will rightfully be 7+ point favorites.

You should also recognize that I have Oregon as the 2nd toughest home game of the year behind Ohio State and tougher than Notre Dame or Penn State.

As for Michigan being favored in every game, I'll bet money that they are. They only play 1 ranked opponent away from home and that's Wisconsin. You might go grab a history book and see that Michigan has only lost 4 games all time at in Madison. Heck, they've only lost to Wisconsin once since 1994 and thoroughly handled them last year.

Tell me, what games do you think Michigan will be the underdog in? Wisconsin is the closest I can see and I've got that at almost a pick'em. No other game will have a spread under 4 points and most will be 7+.

Mon Aug 20, 06:10:00 PM  
Blogger robert paulson said...

Furthermore, I'd be interested in your rationale. Specifically, you picked Oregon to finish 4th in the Pac Ten. Yet you think they go on the road to a top 5 team and it's almost a pick'em?

Oregon was 1-3 on the road in Pac Ten play in 2006 with the lone win against Arizona State. Michigan was 8-0 at home in 2007 including 4-0 in Big Ten play including a win over Wisconsin who finished top 5 nationally.

Heck, compare the teams position by position.

QB? edge Michigan
TB? push
WR? edge Michigan
OL? edge Michigan

On defense I might give Oregon the edge at DBs, but that's about it.

Throw in homefield advantage...

Mon Aug 20, 06:17:00 PM  
Blogger th_goducks94 said...

Look, I NEVER said the Ducks would win, I just think there will be a lot of nervous Wolverine fans in the fourth quarter.

Also, at Wisconsin (for sure) is not a gimme for Michigan either. You make it sound differently.

I also think that your ratings are a little off. Here's my take.

QB - Michigan
RB - Push
WR - Oregon (barely)
OL - Push
DL - Michigan
LB - Michigan (barely)
S & CB - Oregon
Big House - obviously to Michigan

Oregon was #9 in TOTAL OFFENSE in all of college football for 2006, despite their awful run at the end of last year. There's no question that the Wolverines have an sizable edge, but the Ducks return 14 starters in key positions, and the game's circled on their calendar.

Tell all your friends that a Michigan win over Oregon won't be easy.

Tue Aug 21, 12:02:00 AM  
Blogger robert paulson said...

You give Oregon the edge at WR? Umm, Michigan might have the #1 duo in the nation with Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington.

Listen, I'm not sure how you can think me giving Michigan a 80% chance of winning at home means I think it will be an easy game. I'm also not sure how you can think Michigan having a 55% chance of winning against Wisconsin is a "gimmie" considering I think it's practically a coin toss.

I guarantee Michigan is at least a 6 point favorite against Oregon.

Go tell your friends that the Ducks will likely lose by 7-10 points in Ann Arbor.

Tue Aug 21, 02:45:00 PM  
Blogger th_goducks94 said...

"Go tell your friends that the Ducks will likely lose by 7-10 points in Ann Arbor."

Not likely. You can disagree with me all you want. More like... a field goal wins the game.

You'll be shaking your head, and realize after the game, that our talent evens up nicely with Michigan.

Tue Aug 21, 04:51:00 PM  
Blogger robert paulson said...

Look, anything is possible. But you think it will be a 3 point game? If so, you should be a very rich man because you can make a ton of money betting on the game.

There aren't more than 5 teams in the country that would be expected to keep it within 3 points of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Lloyd Carr almost never loses at home and isn't about to start against the Ducks.

Tue Aug 21, 06:40:00 PM  
Blogger th_goducks94 said...

Wonderful. Best of luck on the 8th.

Tue Aug 21, 07:18:00 PM  
Blogger robert paulson said...

good luck to your team in 2007

Thu Aug 23, 05:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL, sure would like to see how you've got your 'Michigan Wins' percentages lined up now ;) Never underestimate the mediocrity of Carr and Co. :P

Mon Sep 10, 02:21:00 AM  
Blogger robert paulson said...

2-0 since the horrible start isn't bad. Hopefully they keep on trucking and shut up the haters.

Sun Sep 23, 04:22:00 PM  

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