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Michigan Is Up Against the Odds

Jay Nicols@boonta420Correspondent ISeptember 12, 2009

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 05: General view of Michigan stadium during the third quarter as Western Michigan Broncos plays the Michigan Wolverines on September 5, 2009 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michigan won the game 31-7. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Michigan is a three-point dog in the Big House. What does that tell you about what people think about the state of Michigan football? They think Rich Rodriguez is making a mockery of the Michigan tradition.

Their own Alumni on ESPN, Desmond Howard, thought that the division in the locker room would cost them against Western Michigan. Players were offended by that notion. Offended by what they did last year—it was not going to happen this year.

These are not players that need to be coddled, or need to be pushed. They want it more than anyone else in the country, and they have a great coach to get them there.

The first 19 months have been miserable for Rich Rodriguez. Last weekend, he was exonerated by the student section by a rousing chant of "Rich Rod-Riguez." He was smiling on the field afterwards, a sight not seen at Michigan until that evening. 

But that doesn't damper the fact his program is under investigation. That he is under investigation, and that the program is underwater hoping to catch their breath.

This game is a must-win for Michigan. I said it last week, and I'm saying it again, MUST-WIN. They lose and any progress and respect they got from last week will die fast. Fans will be unruly, and the nay-sayers will be on Rich Rods back again.

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The work ahead is evident. I'm not going to push 'the Wolverines are back' mantra on my readers, but the improvement between this year and last year is astounding. From the tunnel run to the first offensive series, you could feel the energy travel from the players on the field to the crowd in the stands.

Injuries Could Pose Problem

Rich Rodriguez told Doug Karsch of Mgoblue.com that Boubacar Cissoko will be fine, Brandon Minor should see action, he was practicing more this week than last, and Junior Hemingway is doubtful, or as Coach said, "a game-time desicion."

Brandon Minor will be welcomed back with open arms. Hopefully Cissoko will be fit, as he is needed to cover either Michael Floyd or Golden Tate. This is the biggest worry coming out of Schembechler Hall this week. 

The knowledge that if the corners get burned, Michigan gets burned, is all too evident on game film from last week. The WR's on Notre Dame are both legitimate threats, and Michigan can't afford to be let down by either the CB's or safeties. 

J.T. Floyd is still raw, and can't play at the D-1 level yet. JT Turner and Teric Jones are both young freshman who are even more raw than Floyd. Turner was late getting into camp and Jones switched positions. 

Troy Woolfolk and Mike Williams are the starting safeties, with freshman Valdimir Emilien and Jordan Kovacs as backups along with RS junior Jared Van Slyke. Not exactly the depth that could withstand an injury. 

No ill will towards the backups, but the talent from starter to them is night and day. The talent Notre Dame has at QB and WR would ultimately dominate them.

So be concerned Michigan fans, but don't fret like the rest of the country. Michigan is on it's way back. They aren't close yet, but they are closer than last year. And that's the right direction.

Michigan 34 Notre Dame 28