Michigan Football 2011 Schedule: Game-by-Game Breakdown

Joel GreerCorrespondent IFebruary 26, 2011

Michigan Football 2011 Schedule: Game-by-Game Breakdown

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    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    For the second season in a row, Michigan predictably faltered down the stretch.

    The Wolverines completed their 2010 season with embarrassing losses to Ohio State and Mississippi State.

    Coach Rich Rodriguez was unceremoniously shown the door and Brady Hoke was brought in to resurrect the Michigan football program.

    Offensively, Big Ten MVP Denard Robinson returns at quarterback, but you’ll see much less of the read-option look. Hoke and OC Al Borges will lean toward more power football, in hopes of limiting Robinson’s carries, and of course, his injuries. 

    Defensively, new DC Greg Mattison has junked the 3-3-5 for the more conventional 4-3.

    Michigan completed its 2011 recruiting class with a flurry, and now all eyes will focus on spring practice.

    That’s where the team will essentially be molded for the upcoming 2011 season. The schedule itself features the first night game ever played at Michigan Stadium. The Wolverines will try to make it three straight over Notre Dame when the two teams collide September 10 at 8 p.m.

    Michigan welcomes San Diego State to the Big House for the first time since 2004. Hoke, you recall, coached the Aztecs to a 9-4 record last season, including a victory over Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl.

    The Wolverines will face their own murderer’s row in the final four weeks. Michigan will travel to Illinois and Iowa before closing out the Big Ten season at home with conference newcomer Nebraska and arch rival Ohio State.

    Let’s take a peek at the entire schedule, with an early look at favorites and underdogs.

    The new Big Ten alignment follows: 

    LEGENDS: Iowa, Michigan, Michigan St., Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern

    LEADERS: Indiana, Illinois, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin

    Big Ten Championship Game: Dec. 3, 2011, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis. 

    The championship game determines the league’s representative in either the Rose Bowl Game or the BCS National Championship Game.

Western Michigan Broncos (MAC)

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    Western Michigan Coach Bill CubitGregory Shamus/Getty Images

    When: Sept. 3 

    Where: The Big House (Michigan Stadium: capacity 109,901)

    Michigan’s 2010 Record: 7-6, including a 52-14 Gator Bowl loss to Mississippi State

    Opponent's 2010 Record: 6-6, 5-3

    Last Meeting: 2009, Michigan 31-7

    Overall Series: Michigan, 5-0-0

    Noteworthy: Western finished the 2010 by winning its final three games, including the 41-7 finale over Bowling Green.

    Junior quarterback Alex Carder completed his first full season with outstanding numbers. The 6’2,” 220-pounder tossed 30 touchdown passes, and averaged 278 passing yards per game.

    Favorite: Michigan

Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Independent)

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    Dayne CristJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    When: Sept.10, 8 p.m

    Where: The Big House (Michigan Stadium: capacity 109,901)

    Opponent's 2010 Record: 8-5 including a 33-17 win over Miami in the Sun Bowl

    Last Meeting: 2010, Michigan 28-24

    Overall Series: Michigan, 22-15-1

    Noteworthy:  Michigan and Notre Dame will meet in the first-ever night game at Michigan Stadium. The Irish finished the 2010 season on a four game winning streak including impressive wins over Southern Cal and Miami (FL). Brian Kelly returns for his second campaign as the Irish head coach.

    Michigan has won four of the last five meetings. Due to a knee injury, starting quarterback Dayne Crist missed the second half of the season, but is expected to participate in spring practice.

    Tommy Rees, who filled the QB position admirably down the stretch, will most likely be the backup. Nate Montana, who played some quarterback against Michigan, has transferred to Montana.

    Favorite: Toss-up

Eastern Michigan Eagles (MAC)

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    Ron English, Eastern MichiganStephen Dunn/Getty Images

    When: Sept. 17 

    Where: The Big House (Michigan Stadium: capacity 109,901)

    Opponent's 2010 Record: 2-10, 2-6

    Last Meeting: 2009, Michigan, 45-17

    Overall Series: Michigan, 9-0-0

    Noteworthy: Ron English, who was Lloyd Carr’s defensive coordinator at Michigan in 2006 and ’07, returns for his third season as Eastern’s head coach.

    It’s been tough sledding for English. Twice last season the Eagles gave up more than 70 points.

    They had their home opener spoiled by Northern Illinois, 71-3, and also lost at Ohio State 73-20.

    Favorite: Michigan

San Diego State Aztecs (Mountain West)

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    Ryan LindleyJacob de Golish/Getty Images

    When: Sept. 24

    Where: The Big House (Michigan Stadium: capacity 109,901)

    Opponent's 2010 Record: 9-4, 5-3, including a 35-14 win over Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl

    Last Meeting: 2004, Michigan 24-21

    Overall Series: Michigan 1-0-0

    Noteworthy: Brady Hoke has, of course, moved from San Diego State to coach the Wolverines.

    Ironically, former Michigan basketball coach Steve Fisher is in his 12th year at San Diego State and is putting together a dream season.

    His Aztecs are currently 27-1, ranked fourth in the nation and are a shoe-in to make the NCAA tournament.

    Back to football, Michigan will face a legitimate pro-style quarterback in Ryan Lindley. The 6’4”, 220-pound senior threw for 3,830 yards last season, including 28 touchdowns.

    He’ll be a stern test for the Wolverines’ questionable secondary. Rocky Long took over as head coach of the Aztecs.

    Favorite: Michigan

Minnesota Gophers (Big Ten-Legends)

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    Little Brown JugTom Pidgeon/Getty Images

    When: Oct. 1 

    Where: The Big House (Michigan Stadium: capacity 109,901)

    Opponent's 2010 Record: 3-9, 2-6, including season ending wins at Illinois, 38-34, and at home over Iowa, 27-24.

    Last Meeting: 2008, Michigan 29-6

    Overall Series: Michigan, 70-24-3

    Noteworthy: This will be not only a battle for “The Little Brown Jug,” it will also be a Big Ten “divisional” game. 

    Both teams also have new coaches, since Jerry Kill moves over from Northern Illinois.

    MarQueis Gray and Moses Alipate will compete for the quarterback job vacated by Adam Weber.

    Favorite: Michigan

Northwestern Wildcats (Big Ten-Legends)

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    Dan PersaJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    When: Oct. 8 

    Where: Ryan Field (47,130), Evanston, Illinois

    Opponents 2010 Record: 7-6, 3-5, including a 45-38 loss to Texas Tech in the Insight Bowl.

    Last Meeting: 2008, Northwestern 21-14

    Overall Series: Michigan, 52-15-2

    Noteworthy: Northwestern was working on a fairly mediocre Big Ten season until it got much worse.

    QB Dan Persa suffered a season ending Achilles injury as he was tossing the winning touchdown pass against Iowa.

    With Persa out, the Wildcats failed to win another game, suffering disappointing losses to Illinois (48-27), Wisconsin (70-23), and Texas Tech (45-38).

    If anyone’s keeping score, that’s 163 points allowed in those three games.

    Sound familiar?  

    Persa, who should be back in 2011, is a legitimate dual-threat quarterback. Last season he ran for 519 yards and passed for 2,581.

    Jeremy Ebert, who had 62 receptions and eight TD catches, will also return this season.

    Favorite: Michigan  

Michigan State (Big Ten-Legends)

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    Kirk Cousins and Ryan Van BergenLeon Halip/Getty Images

    When: Oct. 15 

    Where: Spartan Stadium (75.505), East Lansing, Michigan

    Opponent's 2010 Record: 11-2, 7-1, including a 49-7 loss to Alabama in the Capital One Bowl

    Last Meeting: 2010, Michigan State, 34-17

    Overall Series: Michigan, 67-31-5

    Noteworthy: This will be Brady Hoke’s first major test. The Spartans, who’ve won three straight over Michigan, have one area of the team which might be vulnerable.

    Defensively, Trenton Robinson is the only returnee among the top five tacklers.

    On offense, Michigan State is loaded. Kirk Cousins returns at quarterback, along with his top two running backs and a pair of wide receivers.

    Favorite: Michigan State

Purdue Boilermakers (Big Ten-Leaders)

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    When: Oct. 29 (Homecoming)

    Where: The Big House (Michigan Stadium: capacity 109,901)

    Opponent's 2010 Record: 4-8, 2-6, including six straight defeats to end the season.

    Last Meeting: 2010, Michigan, 27-16

    Overall Series: Michigan 42-14-0

    Noteworthy: Since 1980, Michigan’s record against Purdue is 20-5. Last year’s game was Michigan’s best defensive effort of the season.

    Michigan held Purdue to 12 first downs and 256 total yards. The best defensive performance, however, was by Purdue senior defensive end Ryan Kerrigan, who sacked Denard Robinson three times and Tate Forcier once.

    Favorite: Michigan

Iowa Hawkeyes (Big Ten-Legends)

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    David Purdy/Getty Images

    When: Nov. 5

    Where: Kinnick Stadium (70,585), Iowa City, Iowa

    Opponent's 2010 Record: 8-5, 4-4, including a 27-24 win over Missouri in the Insight Bowl

    Last Meeting: 2010, Iowa, 38-28

    Overall Series: Michigan 40-12-4.

    Noteworthy:  Iowa has lost the services of its starting quarterback and feature running back from the 2010 season.

    QB Ricky Stanzi exhausted his eligibility and RB Adam Robinson was dismissed from the team earlier this year.

    On Oct. 19 1985, No 1 Iowa defeated No. 2 Michigan, 12-10, with a field goal on the last play of the game.

    Favorite: Toss-up

Illinois Fighting Illini (Big Ten-Leaders)

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    Ray Vinopal tackles Nathan ScheelhaaseGregory Shamus/Getty Images

    When: Nov. 12

    Where: Memorial Stadium (62,870) Champaign, Illinois

    Opponent's 2010 Record: 7-6, 4-4, including a 38-14 win over Baylor in the Texas Bowl

    Last Meeting: 2010, Michigan, 67-65 (3OT)

    Overall Series: Michigan 67-23-2

    Noteworthy: Illinois returns dual threat quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase,  running back Jason Ford and wide receiver A.J. Jenkins. 

    Scheelhaase passed for 1,825 yards while rushing for 868. Ford, who rushed for 504 yards, will become the feature back, replacing Mikel Leshoure. Jenkins, with 56 catches last season, with remain the number one receiver.   

    Favorite: Toss-up

Nebraska Cornhuskers (Big Ten-Legends)

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    Taylor MartinezRonald Martinez/Getty Images

    When: Nov. 19 

    Where: The Big House (Michigan Stadium: capacity 109,901)

    Opponent's 2010 Record: 10-4, 6-2, including a 19-7 loss to Washington in the Holiday Bowl.

    Last Meeting: 2005, Nebraska, 32-28 (Alamo Bowl)

    Overall Series: Michigan 3-2-1

    Noteworthy: The newest member of the Big Ten, this will be Nebraska’s first visit to the Big House since 1962.

    The 2010 season ended on a sour note and quarterback Taylor Martinez took some of the heat. Martinez should be back in the starting role, but he’s expected to be challenged by Cody Green.

    Favorite: Nebraska

Ohio State Buckeyes (Big Ten-Leaders)

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    Denard Robinson and Michael ShawJamie Sabau/Getty Images

    When: Nov. 26

    Where: The Big House (Michigan Stadium: capacity 109,901)

    Opponent's 2010 Record: 12-1 (7-1)

    Last Meeting: 2010, Ohio State, 37-7

    Overall Series: Michigan 57-44-6

    Noteworthy: Brady Hoke needn’t be reminded that OSU coach Jim Tressel is now 9-1 against Michigan, and the Buckeyes winning streak over the Wolverines is seven.

    At least Hoke’s first game against the Buckeyes is at home. So could we see a repeat of 1969?

    Favorite: Ohio State