Michigan fans won’t want to hear this, but the Wolverines aren’t going to win the National Championship or get to a BCS bowl this year. But what they will like seeing is when their team takes major strides forward and begins to build the foundation for the restoration of Michigan football.
Michigan’s defense will be much improved. Of course, given the wretchedly pathetic defense put out by Rich Rodriguez, maybe that’s not saying much. Still, talent will be developed and a functioning system will be installed. Michigan’s defense will probably receive a middle-ranking in the Big Ten, but with defense-oriented teams like Nebraska, Ohio State, Iowa and Wisconsin, it’ll be hard to get into the top tier without an infusion of talent.
No worries, the astounding (and I mean astounding) job Hoke and crew have done on the recruiting trail will ensure top-tier status in two to three years’ time.
The offense will show some growing pains, but Denard Robinson will still have enough flash and talent to put points on the board. There is definitely talent on the offensive side of the ball, and Michigan will likely have one of the better offenses, but not best, in the offensively-light Big Ten.
Michigan will enter October with three or possibly four wins (depending on whether or not they can overcome a strong Notre Dame team) and should pick up an easy win against Minnesota. With the new divisions and the addition of Nebraska, the Legends division is loaded front to back with talented teams, so Michigan fans won’t be granted the season they want. Not just yet.
Northwestern will be tough this year and Michigan State will continue its string of victories over the Wolverines. Purdue should fall, and the Wolverines will grab a win and a loss between Illinois and Iowa. Nebraska will make itself at home in the Big House, but they will also show the Wolverines what their team will look like in a few years.
And now the big one: Ohio State. Months of venom and prodding by Hoke will push the Wolverines over the top and they will pull out a tight win against the Buckeyes. This will assure Hoke a good start to his legacy and cap off an 8-4 season. Yes, some Wolverine fans will be mildly disappointed, but Hoke is building the foundations for success, and turning around the Blue and Maize will take more than a year.