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Bye Week Reflection and Re-Prognostication

With the Michigan Wolverines not playing this week, there is little to talk about, so let's take a moment to revisit my preseason predictions. Of course, I said very few binding things before the season, so we'll adjust preseason expectations for the remainder of the season, and see where I went wrong at the beginning of the year.

Looking Back:
Utah
The offense will start working out the kinks as they get up to game speed for the first time. A stout defense like Utah's will be a tough first test. On the other side of the ball, it's strength against strength as Michigan's potentially dominant defense squares of with an experienced Utah unit. I think that the strong defense will find a way to keep Utah from outscoring the Michigan offense, but Utah's D may score once or twice itself.
Prediction: Tossup
Utah's D didn't score, but Michigan's defense was not as strong as expected. I thought Michigan's offense wouldn't be very good, but not as bad as it proved to be.
Miami
Miami's linebacking corps is being touted as the second-best that Michigan will face all year. However, the rest of their defense doesn't come with the hype, and should allow the Michigan offense to get a rhythm going for the first time in 2008. The Wolverines' D will stymie the offense of the RedHawks, and Michigan will walk away with another win.
Prediction: Victory
Michigan did indeed pull off a victory on the strength of their defense. The offense looked like it was getting a rhythm going early in the game, but the flow was halted, and the offensive output was far from optimal.
Notre Dame
2008 is Michigan's turn to have a rebuilding offense, though it will be tough for them to reach the historic lows of Notre Dame's effort from last year. Jon Tenuta's blitzing scheme is not going to be easy for inexperienced QB to pick apart. On offense, the Irish couldn't be any worse than they were last year, but I have little faith in their OL coach (even in their successful '05 and '06 seasons, they were 38th and 85th in sacks allowed, respectively, despite having more talent than most of their opponents... note the downward trend). Jimmy Clausen will improve, but will it be enough to score on the talented Michigan defense?
Prediction: Tossup
Michigan's inability to hold onto the ball was the main disappointment here. Jimmy Clausen was indeed improved, enough to capitalize on several short fields afforded by the likes of Brandon Minor and Michael Shaw. Michigan was finally able to get an offensive rhythm going, however, though it didn't show up on the scoreboard because of all the turnovers.

Looking Forward
Since these games haven't happened yet, my predictions haven't become relevant, though I will leave in the Wisconsin prognostication, as we shall see soon enough how close it is to reality.
Wisconsin
The hits keep coming as the Badgers of Wisconsin head to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan. Even if UW's pass defense doesn't improve significantly, it might not need to against the inexperienced signal-callers of Michigan. On offense, Wisconsin will have the traditional pounding attack, but Michigan's D-line should be up to the task. However, with limited depth on defense, even Mike Barwis couldn't prevent the Wolverines from getting worn down.
Prediction: Loss
Perhaps Michigan's second-biggest disappointment from the Notre Dame game was slowing down the power running attack that the Irish implemented. Wisconsin is the posterboy for that offensive scheme, so the Badgers should have some success, unless the UM linebacking corps can rebound in tremendous fashion. Offensively, the Wolverines started putting it together last week, though Wisconsin's defense is likely to be more formidable than the Irish were. Still, I have enough confidence to upgrade this one ever-so-slightly to tossup.
Illinois
Prediction: Tossup
I still think Illinois is in a slight rebuilding year after losing their best player on each side of the ball. Juice has looked erratic at times, and good at others. This should be a chance for Michigan to get a statement win.
Toledo
Prediction: Victory
Michigan is undefeated against the MAC, and don't let the records fool you: Miami was a better team than Toledo is.
Penn State
Prediction: Loss
When I first wrote the preview, I thought Penn State was a probable loss on the verge of a tossup. After seeing both the Nittany Lions and Wolverines in action this season, it's looking more like a definite loss on the verge of a blowout.
Michigan State
Prediction: Tossup
I still have yet to be impressed by the Spartans. Their loss was to a Cal team that got run off the field by a downright bad Maryland squad, and Javon Ringer is the only MSU player who has looked impressive thus far.
Purdue
Prediction: Victory
Purdue was competitive against Oregon, so maybe I should downgrade this one to a tossup. Still, the Boilers' offense wasn't particularly impressive agaisnt a good defense, so the jury is still out on Purdue.
Minnesota
Prediction: Victory
Minnesota has looked better than expected, but the Gophers have a long way to go (and the schedule will only get tougher from here).
Northwestern
Prediction: Victory
After seeing NU play this year, I will downgrade them from a victory to a tossup, though with the game in Ann Arbor, and the Michigan offense presumably continuing its progression, MIchigan still might be able to come away with a win.
Ohio State
Prediction: Pain
Ohio State certainly looked beatable against USC. However, if Beanie Wells plays two games this year, they will be the contests against Youngstown State and Michigan. With Wells in the backfield, and Pryor presumably playing a bigger role as the year goes on, Ohio State is a cut above Michigan. The weak OSU offensive line provides a glimmer of hope, but the downgrade on this game goes only to "defeat."

And...?
If my preseason prediction of a 7-5 season is to come true, Michigan needs to finish the year with a 6-3 record. With losses coming against Penn State and Ohio State, and wins against Toledo and Minnesota, the Wolverines will have to go 4-1 against a slate of Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan State, Purdue, and Northwestern. The best I see Michigan going is 3-2, and even that might be something of a stretch.

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“Bye Week Reflection and Re-Prognostication”

  1. Anonymous Obes Says:

    be more optimistic