By Shawn Muller-
(CBS) This season, Michigan has their loyal fan base believing that “Big Blue” is back!
Brady Hoke for President!
2006 was the last time the University of Michigan football team started the season 6-0. After taking care of their first five opponents, visions of playing in the inaugural Big Ten Championship game are dancing through Wolverine heads.
Oh wait, where have I seen this story before? I know: I have seen it the past couple of years. In 2009, Michigan started the season 4-0 (with a 4-point win over Notre Dame on a late touchdown) only to go on to lose seven of their final eight games to finish the season 5-7. In 2010, Michigan started the season 5-0 (with a 4-point win over Notre Dame on a late touchdown) only to go on to lose six of its final eight games to finish the season at 7-6.
Ironically, this season, Michigan has once again started the season 5-0, including a 4-point win over Notre Dame in the final seconds. Notice a trend here?
Michigan got off to hot starts and beat the Fighting Irish the past two seasons only to tailspin once Big Ten play got underway.
And this season will be no different, even without scapegoat Rich Rodriguez leading the charge.
I am sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings to the wonderful folks of Wolverine Nation, but they are going to have to wait until 2012 to see if they can get over the hump and become a serious threat in the Big Ten.
Yes, you heard me correctly: The Northwestern Wildcats will beat “Go Blue” this Saturday in Evanston at Ryan Field on Saturday night, kicking off the 2011 edition of the Michigan tailspin.
But Shawn, this season is different in Ann Arbor!
Brady Hoke for President, remember?!
The Wolverine defense is playing the best football it has played in three years!
There is no way Northwestern can matchup with Denard Robinson and that re-energized football team just across Lake Michigan.
Northwestern most certainly can matchup with Michigan on Saturday. They can and they will.
Yes, I know Northwestern crapped the bed against an Army squad that had no business beating Pat Fitzgerald’s boys, and the Wildcats did everything they could have possibly done to let Illinois come back from a 28-10 deficit to win a shocker last weekend at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, but, the question remains:
Exactly how good is this Michigan team?
The Wolverines’ defense—which was the biggest question mark heading into the 2011 after three straight pathetic seasons—is allowing less than 10 points per game. Denard Robinson is, well, playing like the Denard Robinson we have come to know very well the past two seasons, and there seems to be a little bit of that old “Michigan swagger” that had been missing during the Rich Rodriguez era.
If we didn’t know any better, it would appear that everything looks to be lining up nicely for the Wolverines in their quest to win the Legends Division title and a berth in the first ever Big Ten Championship Game on December 3rd.
Everything except for one minor detail: We really don’t know how good Michigan actually is.
This will be the Wolverines first road test of the season and Northwestern can create problems for any team they face.
Michigan’s secondary is weak.
And I am putting that nicely.
Whether Kain Colter or Dan Persa is under center, it won’t matter. The Wildcats will be able to throw the ball on offense. Notre Dame, San Diego State, and Western Michigan had no problem moving the ball on the Michigan defense through the air, so why should it be any different for a guy like Dan Persa to do the same? He threw four touchdown passes against Illinois last week before leaving the game, so I could easily see him doing the same this weekend.
On top of a weak secondary, there is still not much of a pass rush coming from the Michigan defensive line.
Creating turnovers has been the key for Michigan. But Northwestern doesn’t turn the ball over. The Wildcats are ranked second in the country with two, so if the Purple can continue to not give the ball away like they have done through the first five weeks of the season, there is no reason to believe that the Wildcats won’t be able to pull out the “W” at home, and in the process, send the Michigan faithful back to Ann Arbor ready to start planning the initial stages of the FireBradyHoke.com website.
The game will be close. That is one thing I know for sure.
But I am not so sure that Michigan is as good as their No. 11 ranking in the polls.
It will be a high-scoring affair, but the difference in this game will be turnovers. Northwestern protects the ball better than the Wolverines and Denard Robinson throws a costly pick in the fourth quarter, sealing the 33-30 win for the Wildcats.
Shawn Muller has lived in the great city of Chicago for 7 years. He is a 2002 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and, in October of 2010, Shawn received his certificate in radio broadcasting. In his free time, Shawn enjoys spending time with his wife Melissa and 3 year old daughter Ava, catching any live sporting event, and traveling. Check out his radio show, Grab Some Bench with Muller and Bangser” every Thursday night at 8:30 P.M., at www.blogtalkradio.com/spmuller24. Read more of his blogs here.