Following what was essentially the worst season ever for Michigan football, the 2009 outlook isn't much better for Rich Rodriguez and his Wolverines in year two of his reign.
Overall, it's been stormy in Ann Arbor for the better part of the last two seasons.
With several embarrassing and/or lop-sided losses—especially those home losses to Appalachian State and Toledo—things have to get better, and soon, right?
Oh, and then there's that little matter of the Buckeyes having won five straight and seven of eight under Jim Tressel.
With the arrival of new quarterback and UM savior Tate Forcier (I am a Buckeye fan so please detect the sarcasm), maybe 2009 will get a little bit better.
But then, it really can't get much worse after a 3-9 season, can it?
2009 UM Schedule and Game Breakdown
Michigan vs. Western Michigan
Prediction: Michigan had never lost to a MAC team before losing to Toledo in 2008. Michigan will wish they had WMU QB Tim Hiller when lightning strikes twice in consecutive seasons and the Broncos pull off the very mild upset, and I do mean mild.
Michigan vs. Notre Dame
Prediction: Michigan barely showed up for the game in South Bend last year, losing by three scores. It could be closer this year since the game is in Ann Arbor, but Notre Dame will be more improved this year than Michigan and should send the Wolverines to an 0-2 start.
Michigan vs. Eastern Michigan
Prediction: Michigan makes it rounds across the state for yet another directional school from TSUN (that state up North). This time, they finally found one more pathetic than themselves to play and will get their first win of the season, bringing their record up to 1-2. I'm so confident this is a lock for UM that I'd bet on it (as long as no money was on the line).
Michigan vs. Indiana
Prediction: As bad as Michigan has been recently, there is no weaker BCS program in the Big Ten and quite possibly the nation than Indiana. Back-to-back cupcakes on the schedule should translate into back-to-back wins for UM and a 2-2 record.
Michigan @ Michigan State
Prediction: The Spartans spanked Michigan 35-21 in the Big House a year ago. Even with the departure of Javon Ringer and Brian Hoyer, I believe the Spartans will win nine games again in 2009. This years game is in East Lansing and I just don't think Michigan will be improved enough to beat MSU on the road, dropping them to 2-3.
Michigan @ Iowa
Prediction: The Wolverines didn't face Shonn Greene and Iowa in 2008 but will travel to Iowa City this season. Greene is gone but running back Jewel Hampton and quarterback Ricki Stanzi, along with a crazy-loud crowd in Kinnick Stadium, will prevail. Iowa could actually challenge for the Big Ten title this year. Michigan, not so much. The Hawkeyes victory will drop the Wolverines to 2-4.
Michigan vs. Delaware State
Prediction: Michigan looks to avoid another loss to an FCS opponent as Delaware State comes to town. I don't know much about the 2009 Delaware State Hornets other than they went 5-6 in 2008. Another cupcake should equal another win, bringing Michigan's record to 3-4.
Michigan vs. Penn State
Prediction: Michigan actually kept it close for a little bit vs. PSU in 2008 but in the end, Clark and Royster were too much and the Wolverines folded like lawn chairs, 46-17. It will be more of the same in 2009 and UM will drop to 3-5.
Michigan @ Illinois
Prediction: Quarterback Juice Williams had one of his biggest games of the year in Michigan Stadium as the Illini thumped the Wolverines 45-20 last season. Williams returns along with star wide-out Arrelious Benn and running backs Daniel Dufrene and Jason Ford. The game is in Champaign and UM dropping to 3-6 is all but an absolute certainty.
Michigan vs. Purdue
Prediction: In the 2008 Big Ten "No-defense Bowl," Purdue out slugged Michigan 48-42 in West Lafayette in Joe Tiller's final season. I'm not sure Purdue has much "hope" to win four games this season. Even If they do, this won't be one of them and Michigan will improve to 4-6.
Michigan @ Wisconsin
Prediction: Michigan beat Wisconsin, 27-25 in 2008 but this year, they play in Madison. Camp Randall is one of the toughest stadiums to play in as the visiting team. Ohio State eked out a win over an average Badgers team last season. Wisconsin should be better in 2009, while Michigan will be about the same. That fact, and the crowd will be the difference as Michigan will drop to 4-7.
Michigan vs. Ohio State
Prediction: As noted above, Ohio State has won five in a row over Michigan and Coach Jim Tressel boasts a 7-1 record over the most hated team North of Ohio. This all comes down to Terrelle Pryor. Ohio State won the recruiting battle for him last year and as long as he is running the show Columbus, it's extremely unlikely that UM wins again in this series. If the world truly ends in 2012, Wolverine fans may never see their team beat the Buckeyes again. I was right, 4-8 is a little better than 3-9.
Thanks for reading. Please post your thoughts in the comments section!