Here's how the Michigan football team stacks up against its 2010 opponents
Forecasting weeks and months ahead on the college football calendar is a tricky business. So many variables change between now and the time the games are played. With that asterisk noted, here's our best stab at how the Michigan football team will stack up against its 2010 opponents:
Reason for optimism: At West Virginia, Rich Rodriguez went head to head with UConn coach Randy Edsall four times. Four times, Rodriguez won by at least 12 points.
Reason for worry: UConn’s improved since Rodriguez last saw them. The Huskies lost five times last year, none by more than four points. They’re dangerous.
Reason for optimism: Michigan returns 18 starters from a team that defeated the Irish, 38-34, last season and the Irish are reconfiguring under first-year coach Brian Kelly.
Reason for worry: Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd is one of the best in the country, and he’ll be facing a secondary that contains as many as five true freshmen eight days into the season.
Reason for optimism: The game against Division I-AA UMass is the easiest on the Wolverines' schedule.
Reason for worry: Ghosts of Appalachian State.
Reason for optimism: Michigan carries an all-time record of 26-1 against Mid-American Conference schools into the game, including a 2-0 record last season.
Reason for worry: In Caleb Watckins and Trent Hurley, the Falcons have pretty good quarterback prospects capable of denting the Michigan secondary.
Reason for optimism: The Wolverines haven’t lost to the perennial bottom-of-the-Big Ten Hoosiers in 23 years.
Reason for worry: Last year’s 36-33 win was the closest game in a decade, and Indiana returns starting quarterback Ben Chappell, who is the Big Ten’s top returning starter, and an experienced receiving corps.
Reason for optimism: The Wolverines are faster than they’ve been in three years in all three phases of the game. After two losses in two years against MSU, Michigan’s ready for a rebound at home.
Reason for worry: With freshman William Gholston already looking like a menace and Greg Jones the conference’s toughest returning linebacker, the Spartans have the cornerstones for a vaunted defense.
Reason for optimism: For as much as the Hawkeyes have more flat-out talent, the Wolverines took them to the wire last year on the road before losing a heartbreaker. Now U-M has Iowa at home.
Reason for worry: Iowa’s defense features several stalwarts, including Adrian Clayborn and Tyler Sash, who will soon play on Sundays.
Reason for optimism: With inexperienced quarterbacks and an offensive line in flux, Penn State could still need some polish in late October.
Reason for worry: With the exception of its interior offensive line, Michigan’s pretty much in the same situation. There are a lot of questions.
Reason for optimism: If there was a worse defense in the Big Ten than Michigan’s last season, it was Illinois’ unit, which averaged 403 yards allowed per game.
Reason for worry: As bad as the Illini have been the past two seasons, including a 3-9 plunge last year, they’ve still found a way to pummel the Wolverines.
Reasons for optimism: Snake-oil salesmen and head coaches exchanging harsh words instead of post-game handshakes? After two straight losses to Purdue, the Wolverines will be fired up for this game.
Reasons for worry: One year after being dismissed from the team, Wolverines-killer Justin Siller is back on the Purdue roster. Siller passed for three TDs and ran for another in his college debut against U-M two years ago, although he’s now playing wide receiver.
Reasons for optimism: Michigan’s experienced offensive line could be trouble for the Badgers, who are tinkering with their front seven defensively after a disappointing year.
Reasons for worry: It’s a bad matchup for Michigan. Wisconsin’s three best returning players are all on offense; Michigan’s D may be the weak link this year.
Reasons for optimism: In the long history of the great series, the underdog has a knack for the upset. Throw out the records. Throw out the talent disparity. This one’s about hunger.
Reasons for worry: The Buckeyes have won six in a row in the rivalry, start the season ranked in the Top 5 and show no signs of slowing down.
Have a question about Michigan football? Email Pete Bigelow at firstname.lastname@example.org or join him on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.