Don't Disappoint me Rich!
Let me preface this-what is my first BleacherReport article, by saying that I'm a Michigan fan who was NOT a fan of the Rich Rodriguez hire from the get-go. I honestly believe that for elite programs that recruit for themselves (i.e. Michigan, Ohio State, USC, Texas, Oklahoma etc.) that it makes the most sense to develop offenses and defenses that will translate to the pro's, so that these teams can show recruits how they will prepare them for the NFL. In the long run, I expect a spread option offense to hurt Michigan's "pro appeal", and cause them to lose elite recruits. Terrel Pryor was a good example of this. He didn't want to play wide receiver in the NFL; he wanted to learn how to develop as a passer so he would be able to take his game to the next level as a QUARTERBACK, and I GUARANTEE that that was part of what made him choose Ohio State. He saw Troy Smith - an athletic, undersized quarterback who scouts said didn't have a true position and would probably fit best as a running back, who eventually turned into a Heisman Trophy winner and someone given a shot to be a true NFL pocket passer who could electrify teams with his legs under Tressel in the RIGHT SYSTEM. (Good gosh that's a long sentence. Please forgive the run-on). With that said, I DON'T HATE Rich Rodriguez; I most certainly don't root against him or Michigan, and I DO think Michigan will be solid this year.
Why Michigan will win games this year
I'm not going to delve much into specific recruits. There are better, more knowledgeable people on here that do this. These are points that I believe most people won't argue.
- Outside of Ohio State, Michigan has the best recruiting in the Big Ten every year. What this means is that every time Michigan suits up (in the regular season), they are more than likely going to have superior athletes to those they are playing against. Michigan SHOULD be bigger, faster, and stronger than their counterparts AT LEAST 80% of the time.
- Traditionally, Big Ten teams have struggled against spread option offenses, especially Ohio State. (I understand that it was unsuccessful at Michigan State with John L. Smith, but there is a completely different level of recruiting and coaching there than at Michigan.)
- Michigan's schedule is a joke, and the Big Ten is down. Furthermore, more than anytime in recent memory, every Big Ten team is extremely flawed, or at the very least has a lot of questions in need of answering. Here's how I would generalize the most significant problems facing each Big Ten team as I see it:
I understand that the Buckeyes have great recruiting and just re-load every year and what not, but outside of Terrel Pryor, they lack obvious star power on both offense and defense, and he's only a sophomore, not a 3-year proven star.
Penn State has quite a bit of star power, but they lack the depth and the role players of Ohio State, and I think are just an EXTREMELY incomplete team (good QB, no receivers; good RB, completely new O-line; good LBs, new D-line and secondary).
Michigan State and Iowa
Both of these teams are noticeably flawed as they both lost the bulk of their offenses last year - State with Hoyer (QB) and Ringer (RB), and Iowa with Green-the leading rusher in the Big Ten last year.
The Golden Gophers have both a tough schedule and inferior athletes (in general), and struggle mightily (for whatever reason) against the Wolverines, including the beatdown they suffered at home to a truly abysmal team last year.
Wisconsin, Purdue, and Indiana
I'm not going to go into extreme detail, just that these three are all rebuilding immensely.
Northwestern can be classified in the same boat as Minnesota, just with less star power (although from what I've read, they should have a legitimate defense).
I'm a little under-informed on Illinois, but from what I've read, it sounds like they are going to have a horrendous defense (possibly not much unlike Michigan's).
This might be an extreme and "wishful thinking" statement with some fan bias, but I'm not sure there is one unwinnable game on their schedule. Yes, it would be a huge upset if Michigan beat Ohio State, but I've already seen at least one non-Michigan fan media source go as far as to predict it happening.
What am I [not] saying?
Do I think Michigan is going to win all of their games? Certainly not. Am I predicting them to win the Big Ten? Nope. Did I say Michigan is going to beat Ohio State? Not yet. And more than anything else, I MOST CERTAINLY am not saying Michigan isn't flawed (forgive the double negative). They without a doubt, have the same questions as a lot of the other teams in the conference, and in many cases, more. But do I think they are capable of winning any of their games on their schedule this year? You'd better believe it. And I do believe they'll be looking forward to a bowl game by season's end.