Michigan Football: Game-by-Game Breakdown of the 2012 Schedule
Brady Hoke and the Michigan Wolverines had one of the most successful seasons in recent memory. It may have only been his first year as head coach of the team, but he finished the year 11-2 and won a BCS bowl that was their first bowl win since 2007.
The Wolverines are ready to build on last year's great season, as they return a total of 14 starters, including quarterback Denard Robinson. They also have a very impressive recruiting class coming in, where many of the players could make an immediate impact this year.
Last year's football season may have just ended, but it's never too early to make predictions. Here are predictions for the Wolverines schedule next year.
Vs. Alabama (at Cowboys Stadium) 9/1
What a way for the regular season to kick off, huh? This is going to be a fantastic game, with the winner will really having to earn this victory.
Overall I just don't see the Crimson Tide losing as they are a much more complete team. Alabama is missing several key pieces on the defensive side of the ball from last year, but have the talent to replace that.
I just don't trust Denard Robinson against a talented group of players such as Alabama and think A.J. McCarron has grown enough to make enough plays to pull out a win.
Should be a close game, but I have to go with Nick Saban and company.
Alabama wins 24-17.
Vs. Air Force 9/8
Air Force and its triple option can become very tricky to defend. The Falcons did rush for 314 yards last season for a reason. With that said Michigan is returning seven starters on the defensive side of the ball and should be experienced enough to slow it down.
It's really hard to imagine Michigan and this talented bunch to lose two games in a row. Especially the first home game of the season.
Michigan wins 34-17.
Vs. UMass 9/15
Does this game really need an explanation?
There is no way Massachusetts upsets Michigan at home unless they're able to borrow Victor Cruz from the New York Giants. And even then I'm skeptical that the Minutemen will be able to pull it off.
Michigan wins 45-6.
At Notre Dame 9/22
Michigan was able to squeeze out a victory last year against the Irish in what was one of the best games of the year. I think they'll be able to do the same this year, mainly because Notre Dame has several questions on the defensive side of the ball and at quarterback.
This should be another tight game, but Michigan has fewer questions than the Irish do. Until we get a few answers with how Notre Dame will respond, I'm going with the Wolverines.
Michigan wins 32-28.
At Purdue 10/6
Purdue actually has the ability to surprise people this season, as it's returning the majority of its starters on both sides of the ball. The problem is that I'm not too sure the Boilermakers have enough playmakers to actually pull the upset off.
They'll keep things close with their solid running game, but a one-dimensional offense won't be enough to finish the job.
Michigan wins 25-14.
Vs. Illinois 10/13
This will be the Wolverines' first home game in nearly a month. I think it will be real kind to them as Illinois doesn't have many playmakers to match the Wolverines' offensive firepower. A new head coach, a road game and just coming off a road game against Wisconsin will be too much to overcome for Illinois.
Michigan wins 27-14.
Vs. Michigan State 10/20
Michigan hasn't beaten the rival Spartans in the last four years, but I think its misfortune ends this year.
The Wolverines have the home crowd going for them and a Spartan team that is missing tons of their key players. Their starting quarterback is gone, and their top four receivers from a year ago have all graduated.
The great defense is still intact, but if you struggle to put up points, it's hard to win football games.
Michigan wins 17-10.
At Nebraska 10/27
Nebraska is returning most of its starters, but I refuse to pick the Cornhuskers as long as quarterback Taylor Martinez is still playing the position. Sure, he's a fantastic athlete, but he can't throw the ball to save his life. In the game against the Wolverines last year he completed 39 percent of his passes, which was a season low, and only rushed for 39 yards.
Expect Michigan to give him problems again next year and earn a fairly easy victory.
Michigan wins 34-21.
At Minnesota 11/3
The only thing Minnesota has going for it in this game is that it's at home. The Golden Gophers are a team that struggled on both sides of the ball last year and simply don't have the talent to keep up with the Wolverines. Not to mention Minnesota has only beaten Michigan once in the last 21 meetings.
I'll go out on a limb and say Michigan wins.
Michigan wins 36-14.
Vs. Northwestern 11/10
I don't doubt what Pat Fitzgerald can do at Northwestern as he's done a fabulous job with the Wildcats, but they only return 10 starters, with quarterback not being one of them.
The game wasn't close last year, and with both of these teams heading in different directions, it looks like once again the Wolverines will be able to pull out the victory.
Michigan wins 34-18.
Vs. Iowa 11/17
Surprisingly the Wolverines have lost the last three games against the Hawkeyes, with all three losses by 10 points or less. With the margin of victory being so tight, you have to expect that losing streak to end soon.
The key to this game is obviously once again Denard Robinson, who should have a big day as he had one of his better passing games last year against the Hawkeyes (194 yards). This should be another great game in this rivalry, but you have to go with the home team in this one.
Michigan wins 21-14.
At Ohio State 11/24
This is the game that will either make or break Urban Meyer. He has to win this game against the hated Michigan Wolverines. Lucky for him, he has the home crowd behind him.
Denard Robinson will determine the outcome of this game. If he has a good game, the Wolverines will win; if he ends up throwing three interceptions, they lose.
Right now I'll say that Braxton Miller makes the key mistake in this game and turns the ball over late to cost the Buckeyes a possible undefeated season.
Michigan wins 24-21.
Randy Chambers is a B/R featured columnist that covers college football and the NFL. You can contact him @Randy_Chambers or Randy.Chambers7@yahoo.com.