After two bowl-less, losing seasons, 2010 is a key year for Michigan. After two years of recruiting, Rich Rodriguez has experienced players able to play in his spread offense. And with the Practice Gate scandal, Rodriguez needs to do well to keep his job, and to have Michigan keep it's reputation. With the 2010 schedule release, it's time to look at what 2010 holds for the Wolverines.
A middle of the road Big East team vs a Big Ten team coming out of hard times at home. The winner will most likely be Michigan.
Despite UConn being a challenging team, Michigan is about to break out of their last two seasons, has a new and improved (due to competition with Devin Gardner) Tate Forcier, who has the potential to be the next Tim Tebow, and is at home.
Though it seems Michigan has this one in the bag, UConn could pull off the upset, but that is unlikely.
So, Michigan begins 2010 1-0.
Notre Dame has been a mediocre team recently, but then again, so has Michigan.
Last year the game was incredibly, and likely only won by Michigan due to being on their own turf.
However, Notre Dame will become worse with a transition to a new coach and the loss of quarterback Jimmy Clausen.
Michigan will only improve with a more experienced starting quarterback and team in general.
So even though the game is on Notre Dame's turf, Michigan will win this one and extend their record to 2-0.
Any time Michigan plays an FCS team, especially one that wins or is close to winning a national championship, visions of Appalachian State appear.
However, even though UMass is almost always a national championship contender, they have fallen on hard times with a 5-6 season last year.
So it's a repeat of DSU, and Michigan is now 3-0.
A middle of the road MAC team against a team that is shaping up to be at least be middle of the road of the Big Ten.
So, is an explanation really needed? Well, not really, but it will similar to the Western Michigan opener from last year.
And so the Wolverines are 4-0 going into Big Ten play...sound familiar?
So, Big Ten play begins.
Despite the closeness of last year's game at Michigan, this Michigan team will improve while Indiana's will not.
So despite the fact that the game will be at Indiana, Michigan will win, bringing their record to 5-0 and starting their conference schedule with a victory.
Last year's battle for the Paul Bunyan trophy was a close game, going into overtime, and that was at Michigan State. With an improved Michigan team and the venue at Michigan, Michigan will most like prove themselves victorious.
Michigan will be 6-0, and their conference season will have a solid 2-0 start, and they will be bowl eligible for the first time since 2007.
Iowa is a team that has been considered a contender for the Big Ten title and is coming off an impressive Orange Bowl victory against Georgia Tech.
However, last year's game against Michigan was incredibly close, and that Michigan had a shot of winning if it wasn't for a number of mistakes by the quarterbacks, and that was at Iowa.
With both teams improving, the match-up will be as close as last year's, but with Michigan having the home field advantage.
Michigan will upset a team that is considered one of the best in the country, gaining a program that has had issues over the last two programs respect.
Michigan will have a 7-0 record, and be 3-0 in the conference, and the upset of Iowa will make them appear a serious contender for the Big Ten title and a BCS bowl game.
Playing Penn State, one of the best teams in the Big Ten, at Beaver Stadium, where the home field advantage is legendary, has proven too much for many teams.
Michigan will fall victim to playing Penn State at home, giving them their first loss of the season, a 7-1 record and a 3-1 conference record.
Despite the upset last year, the improved Wolverines should have no issue beating the Illini, who are one of the worst teams in the Big Ten, at home.
The Wolverines will rebound from their loss to the Nittany Lions to become 8-1 and 4-1 in conference.
Michigan had a close loss to Purdue at home last year, but this year is unpredictable, as while Michigan's team will improve, the game will be in West Lafayette.
That being said, the better team usually wins out. Thus, the Wolverines, who have improved since the earlier meeting, will be able to narrowly beat the Boilermakers, who will not have improved as such.
The 9-1, 5-1 in conference, Wolverines will now have more wins in one year than the last two combined.
Wisconsin, since its loss to Michigan in 2008, has risen to beat them in 2009 and become a possible contender for the Big Ten title.
However, Michigan will have improved just as greatly, and Michigan will be at home.
The Wolverines will become 10-1, and 6-1 in the Big Ten, and will enter the most important game of the season with the appearance of the possibility of winning.
Michigan enters The Game 10-1, and most likely Ohio State will be 11-0 in 2010 after an impressive, Rose Bowl winning season in 2009.
Both teams could possibly be playing for the Big Ten title, with Ohio State playing for the ability to enter the National Championship Game.
However, The Game will be played in front of a screaming crowd at the 'Shoe, and unfortunately Ohio State will not only be the better team, but they will have a significant home field advantage. The Buckeyes will be victorious.
So, Michigan ends the season with a respectable record of 10-2, with a 6-2 in conference record, making them second or third in the Big Ten.
This gives them a solid ranking in the polls, as well as a definite bowl bid. The impressive record makes a bid to a BCS bowl possible, especially if Ohio State goes to the National Championship Game.
Michigan could make their return to bowls with a solid appearance to the Rose Bowl. If Ohio State goes to the Rose Bowl, Michigan has a chance to appear at another BCS bowl as at large team.
More likely, however, is a trip to the Capital One Bowl. Whatever bowl awaits the Wolverines, their season will be an impressive return to the top tier of college football.