We begin our pre-spring previews of 2014 Notre Dame opponents with Michigan, which is the first Irish foe to begin spring practice.
It was a tale of two seasons for the 2013 Wolverines, who saw a 5-0 start spiral into a 7-6 finish. As good as the Michigan offense looked in its two spotlight games against Notre Dame and Ohio State (41 points in each), that’s how bad it was in losses to Michigan State (23-6), Nebraska (17-14) and Kansas State (31-13).
After a surprising 11-2 debut, the honeymoon is over for fourth-year head coach Brady Hoke. Saying he’s on the hot seat is a bit premature, but 2014 is undoubtedly a critical season for Hoke, who is just 10-9 after going 16-4 in his first 20 games.
Michigan shifts to the new Big Ten East Division, the seemingly stronger of the two divisions, but the Wolverines do avoid Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin. Before the Week 2 trip to Notre Dame, they’ll open with Appalachian State, which pulled off perhaps the greatest upset in college football history seven years ago in Ann Arbor.
The Maize and Blue hit the practice field Monday, with the spring game coming on Apr. 5. Let’s take an early look at the 2014 Wolverines.