Michigan Football: Why Brady Hoke Must Beat Ohio State for Successful 1st Season
The Michigan Wolverines faithful has embraced Brady Hoke once they recovered from Jim Harbaugh's rejection. His obvious love for everything maize and blue has created a bond with the fans that Rich Rodriguez never enjoyed.
He failed to notch a win against the hated Michigan State Spartans but was helped out by the dramatic comeback win over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
His biggest challenge comes to Ann Arbor on Nov. 26th. The Wolverines have been waiting a long time for a win against archrival Ohio State.
The following slides provide the biggest reasons that Hoke and Michigan need to beat the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Keep the Fans from Turning on Him
Rich Rodriguez's tenure at Michigan never felt comfortable. He was chastised for not being a "Michigan Man" and then promptly embroiled the program in its first NCAA investigation.
Brady Hoke does not carry the same stigma. He was the defensive line coach for the 1997 National Championship team and his desire for the Michigan head coaching gig is well documented.
Four straight loses to Michigan State hurts, but the current losing streak to Ohio State is a thorn in the side of every Michigan fan. If he cannot capitalize on the golden possibility in front of him this year, his approval rating will begin to slide.
Michigan Needs to Keep the Pressure on the Recruits
Ohio State had a tumultuous offseason that continued to spiral out of control. The scandal cost head coach Jim Tressel his job and multiple players were suspended.
Possibly the biggest fallout going forward will be the damage done to their recruiting. Ohio State's loss has been Michigan's gain.
OSU's top recruit, offensive tackle Kyle Kalis, has already switched his commitment to Michigan. If Brady Hoke can lead the Wolverines to a win against the Buckeyes, the potential to steal more recruits from "that team from Ohio" will rise exponentially.
Give Rise to the Scant Possibility of a BCS Bowl
It is highly unlikely that the Michigan Wolverines would have a shot at a BCS bowl, but that possibility will completely evaporate with a loss in either of their remaining games.
The more likely scenario is a trip to the Capitol One Bowl.
However, they will need some help from the Michigan State Spartans for that to happen. If MSU can win the Big Ten and knock off Wisconsin, that would give the Badgers three conference losses.
In that scenario, Michigan could slide into the game reserved for the second Big Ten team. For his first year at the helm of the program, the Capitol One Bowl would only serve to validate his hiring.
It Will Ease the Burden on Denard Robinson
Denard Robinson is one of the most explosive players in the country. However, his transition to dropback passer has not gone smoothly.
He has completed just over half of his attempts and thrown for just as many touchdowns (13) as interceptions. Against the Illinois Fighting Illini, he failed to break the 100-yard plateau.
These stats are concerning to Michigan fans who have become emboldened in calling for a position switch for the second-year starter. A win over the Ohio State Buckeyes would go a long way toward quieting that rising whisper.
Build Momentun for Next Year
The Michigan Wolverines have seemingly begun a return to the elite class of college football programs.
Yet, the schedule for the 2012 season is incredibly difficult by comparison to 2011's. A season-opening tilt with the Alabama Crimson Tide followed by a home game against Air Force will provide plenty of challenges.
It is imperative that Michigan build momentum by beating the Buckeyes and playing well in the bowl game. The confidence that those two events would provide will help the team prepare for a seemingly insurmountable challenge at Cowboys Stadium.
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