Update: Ohio State suspends Carlos Hyde for at least three games (via CBSSports' Tom Fornelli, Aug. 5).
The suspensions of Everett Golson, Bradley Roby and Carlos Hyde could lighten the load this fall for Michigan.
In May, Golson, Notre Dame’s starting quarterback, was suspended by his team due to academic issues. He vows to return next spring. But that won’t mean much come Sept. 7, when the Irish face the Wolverines at The Big House in Ann Arbor.
Advantage: Michigan—home field and no Golson call for a sunny forecast.
On July 23, Roby, Ohio State’s All-Big Ten-caliber cornerback, was suspended indefinitely due to two arrests during the previous weekend in Bloomington, Ind.
Compounding the situation, Hyde, the Buckeyes’ lead running back, was suspended indefinitely for his role during an altercation at a bar in Columbus on July 20. He was cleared of the assault charge, according to CBS Chicago.
The length of their suspensions isn’t clear at the moment, but the disciplinary action brings about one question: Will they be back in time for The Game on Nov. 30 at Michigan?
Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer probably hopes so. In all likelihood, Wolverines coach Brady Hoke wouldn’t mind having the upper hand.
With seven home games on the 2013 docket, the chances of a 10-win season looked favorable for the Wolverines. Add in the losses of Notre Dame and Ohio State, two national title hopefuls, and the 10-win plateau appears to be a mere starting point for Hoke, who enters his third year as head coach.
How OSU Game Changes
During the Buckeyes’ 26-21 win in 2012, Hyde systematically picked apart Michigan’s defense with a game-high 146 yards and a touchdown.
Saying that Meyer needs Hyde this year would be an understatement. The Wolverines appear much stronger on all fronts, highlighting Ohio State’s need for a consistent playmaker on Nov. 30.
And with a finely tuned pro-style spread ready to be unleashed, Ohio State certainly needs a defensive back to keep quarterback Devin Gardner—and his receivers—honest.
Completing 11 of 20 passes for 171 yards, this past season’s loss to the Buckeyes was Gardner’s worst game as a starter. He couldn’t find a downfield threat, and Roby—who had eight tackles—was a contributing factor to a stout defense.
Being without Hyde and Roby won’t make things easier. The Game could serve as the Buckeyes’ final opportunity to salvage a year endured without two stars. On the other side, it could be Michigan’s dream.
Let’s play out the potential scenario: Michigan runs through the Big Ten with relative ease. After being challenged in back-to-back road wins over Northwestern and Iowa, Hoke’s program needs to make a statement. The chance to pummel a reeling Ohio State at home only comes so often.
An appealing set of circumstances could certainly unfold and send the Wolverines to a BCS bowl.
Notre Dame Won’t Be the Same
If the arrangement holds true, this year will be Michigan’s final showdown against the Irish in Ann Arbor. Needless to say, this fall’s edition should be one to remember.
Beating Notre Dame in Week 2 would most certainly generate excitement for Michigan. No disrespect to Tommy Reese—he’s not a terrible quarterback—but this year’s contest lost its luster once Golson was suspended.
In 2012, the Irish struggled to get in the end zone. Rees’ seven-yard run resulted in the 13-6 win’s lone touchdown. Golson is much more athletic and elusive. If it was rough getting across the goal line last year, imagine how challenging it could be this time around.
Michigan won’t have star linebacker Jake Ryan, who’s nursing an ACL tear, so maybe the scales aren’t so tilted in the Wolverines’ favor. However, overall, Golson is a much bigger loss.
The Wolverines aren’t without hurdles. With No. 1 running back Fitz Toussaint returning from leg surgery and corner Blake Countess rebounding from ACL surgery, they’re one more injury away from disaster.
Remaining healthy is always the name of the game. If successful, Michigan can capitalize on a softer schedule that’s minus three high-end playmakers.
Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81