Michigan Football: Ranking the Wolverines' Most Important Remaining Games
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The Michigan Wolverines are idle this weekend, so now is as good a time as ever to take a look at some of the toughest games remaining this season for the men wearing the winged helmets.
Michigan has three rivalry games remaining on their schedule, a tough road contest against a surprisingly upstart opponent and a primetime tilt with the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium left on their plate in 2012.
Where do all of these games stack up in terms of importance? Click next to find out!
No. 5: Minnesota Golden Gophers, Week 10
The Minnesota Golden Gophers are off to a 4-0 start and will be looking to reclaim the Little Brown Jug this season.
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The battle for the Little Brown Jug may actually be relevant for the first time in several years as the Minnesota Golden Gophers have gotten off to a 4-0 start and will be looking to reclaim one of college football's oldest trophies.
Dual-threat quarterback MarQueis Gray should be back and healthy by the time the Golden Gophers line up against the Michigan Wolverines, but even if he is not, Max Shortell has proven to be an effective signal-caller.
Michigan must travel to TCF Bank Stadium, which will not be an easy task if the Golden Gophers win a few Big Ten Conference games prior to the Wolverines' arrival.
No. 4: Purdue Boilermakers, Week 6
Danny Hope and the Purdue Boilermakers will look to upset the Michigan Wolverines in Week 6.
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Given the Wisconsin Badgers' offensive woes through their first four games, the Purdue Boilermakers are all of a sudden a trendy pick to win the Big Ten Conference's Leaders Division this season.
The Boilermakers are not exactly an offensive juggernaut and if the Michigan Wolverines are able to turn this game into a high-scoring affair, it is unlikely to be a competitive contest.
Purdue's defense has been very impressive though and nearly gave the Boilermakers enough of an edge to upset the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in South Bend, Ind., earlier this season.
Again, this will be a tricky game for the Wolverines because it is away from the friendly confines of the Big House and the Boilermakers will be hungry for an upset to keep themselves firmly in the mix for a Leaders Division title.
No. 3: Nebraska Cornhuskers, Week 9
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While the Nebraska Cornhuskers are not as highly touted as they were at the beginning of the 2012 season, winning at Memorial Stadium late at night is never an easy task.
The Michigan Wolverines laid the lumber to the Cornhuskers last season at the Big House and Nebraska will undoubtedly be out for revenge this year in Lincoln, Neb.
The Wolverines match up well against the Cornhuskers, who have looked vulnerable on defense thus far, but no one really knows how well Michigan's young defensive players will respond on the road against Taylor Martinez, Ameer Abdullah and Rex Burkhead.
Michigan should be able to put some points on the board, however keeping them off may be a bit of a problem in this pivotal Week 9 tilt, which will have a hand in deciding the 2012 Legends Division champion.
No. 2: Ohio State Buckeyes, Week 13
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Yes, the Michigan Wolverines and Ohio State Buckeyes are two of the biggest rivals in the history of sports. Ranking this as the No. 2 most important remaining game is not out of lack of respect for the rivalry, but rather because of how much of an impact the No. 1 game will have on Team 133's primary goals.
Michigan head coach Brady Hoke ended the Wolverines seven-game skid against the Buckeyes in his first season in Ann Arbor and Ohio State's new head coach, Urban Meyer, will hope to have the same success against that school up north in his inaugural year in Columbus.
The Wolverines have not won at the Horseshoe since 2000 and are attempting to re-assert themselves as the team to beat in their rivalry with the Buckeyes.
No. 1: Michigan State Spartans, Week 8
Mark Dantonio has made the Michigan Wolverines his No. 1 target since taking over in East Lansing.
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The Michigan Wolverines have not beat the Michigan State Spartans since 2007 and this game will likely decide who wins the Legends Division in 2012, which is why it comes in at No. 1 on the list of the maize and blue's most important remaining games.
The Spartans have made Michigan their little brother for the past four years and Wolverine fans have undoubtedly grown sick and tired of Michigan State fans holding up four fingers in passing.
Both teams are likely to drop at least one game in Big Ten Conference play this season, and that means having the advantage in the head-to-head tiebreaker will be vastly important.
The Wolverines have made it clear from the start of the season that their top priority is winning the Big Ten title and unless Michigan finds a way to top the Spartans, this season will more than likely be stuck on the couch watching their in-state rival play for the conference crown.
For a much more detailed account of why this will be the most important game the Wolverines will play this season, click here to view an article I put together on the subject earlier this summer.