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Michigan Football: Why Wolverines Shouldn't Be Thinking About B1G Football Yet

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 03:  Head coach Brady Hoke of the Michigan Wolverines talks with his players against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 3, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Max De LucaContributor IAugust 14, 2012

Usually most coaches would be ecstatic after coming off an 11-win season that culminated in a thrilling BCS bowl victory.

However, Brady Hoke is not like most coaches.

Hoke branded Michigan's 2011-12 season a failure despite the Wolverines beating eternal rivals Ohio State for the first time in eight years and downing Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl.

Why? Under Hoke it’s the Big Ten title or bust for the maize and blue.

Denard Robinson, Jordan Kovacs, Roy Roundtree and the rest of Michigan’s senior class underwent leadership training with the Navy SEALs in the summer to prepare them for the trials and tribulations of the upcoming season.

Team 133’s mission is simple: To win the Big Ten title.

However, the Wolverines face a daunting out-of-conference schedule, and if things do not go Michigan’s way early on, its confidence could be shattered ahead of Big Ten play.

And if that happens, the maize and blue will fail to meet its primary objective.

First up for Michigan is defending national champion Alabama in the Cowboys Classic in Arlington, Texas on September 1. The Wolverines are 12.5-point underdogs and will likely need to play a perfect game to upset the Crimson Tide.

Alabama boasts probably the best offensive line in the country and that does not bode well for Hoke as he tries to break in a new-look defensive front after losing Mike Martin, Ryan Van Bergen and Will Heininger to graduation.

A loss looks likely for the Wolverines, and they will need to lick their wounds quickly as Air Force pays a visit to the Big House a week later.

The Falcons are always a tricky proposition to prepare for despite having to face Michigan without five key members who were kicked off the team at the beginning of August. The Wolverines must be ready to do battle or will suffer the ignominy of an 0-2 start.

UMass was a recent visitor to the Big House in 2010 and gave Michigan quite a scare, although the Wolverines will be heavy favorites this time around and should win with relative ease.

However, Michigan's next opponent, Notre Dame, will be seeking to exact a measure of revenge after losing three straight thrillers to the Wolverines.

Last year, the Fighting Irish fumbled away a glorious opportunity to win under the lights in Ann Arbor and will be eager to atone for their errors when the teams meet in South Bend.

Winning the Big Ten title should always be the expectation for Michigan every year, but putting too much emphasis on conference play with a daunting out-of-conference schedule staring it in the face may be a blueprint for disaster that could derail the Wolverines' mission before it really gets started.

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