Predicting the Michigan Wolverines’ fate for the 2011 season based on past precedent would mean that the Wolverines would collapse and fall out of the rankings altogether.
But this is a new team, with a new coach, and a better defense, and if they can take care of business, Michigan could find itself in the Big Ten championship.
Obviously the most important thing is winning their games. Michigan State, Illinois and Nebraska are all currently ranked and Ohio State has put together an impressive string of victories over Michigan (seven).
But Michigan State and Illinois are largely unproven teams, Nebraska’s defense has failed to impress in any capacity and will be without star defensive tackle Jared Crick for the season, and Ohio State is not even ranked.
The Huskers already have a conference loss to Wisconsin, but that game was inter-divisional so a tie would go to Nebraska over Michigan should they win out. Fortunately, Michigan gets to play the Cornhusks in the Big House.
The other major game comes this weekend when the Wolverines travel to East Lansing to take on in-state rival Michigan State.
The Spartans have an amazing defense which has allowed an average of 173 yards of total offense per game, but their offense has been seriously lackluster.
Michigan’s defense has played valiantly thus far and should be able to hold their opponents to where Denard Robinson can outscore them. Whether he will or not is a question that can only be answered during the game.
Get by this challenging patch and it should be easy sailing until the middle of November. The Iowa Hawkeyes have actually taken a step back from last year, so Michigan should be able to avenge last season's 38-28 home loss.
And Purdue is just awful.
The Wolverines have a bunch of tough games but they don’t have to play anyone necessarily elite. If their defense can hold against better offenses, Michigan could easily go through the Big Ten undefeated or with one loss.
Depending on who that loss is against, or how Nebraska does the rest of this season, that could be enough to send the Wolverines to the inaugural Legends and Leaders Big Ten Championship Game.