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Posted on Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Michigan football over-under: Will the Wolverines post a winning record vs. Ohio State, Michigan State, Notre Dame?

By Nick Baumgardner


Will Denard Robinson and the Michigan football team find success against their main rivals in 2012? file photo

Brady Hoke says it all the time: The Michigan football program has three annual rivalries that mean more than the rest.

There's Ohio State (or, Ohio, as Hoke puts it), Michigan State and Notre Dame. Anyone can debate the order of importance, but that's not necessarily the most important discussion point.

This season, with one of their tougher schedules in years, the more important debate angle seems to be how exactly the Wolverines will fare against their most-hated rivals.

Last season, Michigan had a good year -- from a total picture standpoint. It rallied against Notre Dame at night inside Michigan Stadium, dropped a 28-14 decision to the Spartans and rebounded for a 40-34 win against Ohio State.

It's not 3-0, but 2-1 isn't bad.

This season, Michigan has to visit Notre Dame (also at night) and head to Columbus for its first-ever meeting against Urban Meyer's Buckeyes. The Wolverines get Michigan State at home, but the Spartans have one of the best defenses in America and a four-game winning streak in their back pocket.

Michigan Football Over-Under

This is part of a 14-day series featuring 2012 Michigan football-related debate from sports writers Kyle Meinke and Nick Baumgardner.

July 11: Can the Michigan offense maintain its production?

July 12: Can the Michigan defense be as stout in 2012?

July 13: How many wins will Michigan collect away from home?

July 14: Can Denard Robinson reduce his interceptions into single digits?

July 15: How many sacks will Michigan's defensive line muster?

July 16: Will Devin Gardner become a full-time receiver?

July 17: How many true freshmen will see the field next season?

Wednesday: Uniforms: How many will Michigan wear in 2012?

Thursday: Will Fitz Toussaint reach his goal of 1,600 rushing yards?

Friday: How many underclassmen will declare early for the NFL Draft?

Saturday: Will Thomas Rawls log more than 50 carries?

Sunday: Will Roy Roundtree pick up where Junior Hemingway left off?

Monday: How many games will freshman OL Kyle Kalis play?

Tuesday: What will be Brendan Gibbons' longest field goal?

Today: How many rivalry games will Michigan win?

All three games will likely be nailbiters, and all three could capture the nation's eye.

But how will Michigan do?

We debate.

Over-under: Michigan victories against Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State -- 1 1/2

Kyle Meinke: Michigan went 2-1 last year against its three-biggest rivals, pulling out nail-biters at home against Notre Dame and Ohio State, but getting thumped on the road against Michigan State.

That 2-1 record will be hard to replicate next year, and for one of the reasons Michigan posted it in the first place: Venue.

The Wolverines were 8-0 at home last season, but 3-2 away from Ann Arbor, and they didn't play particularly well in two of those three wins anyway.

The road/home split is significant in the Big Ten -- league teams went 21-34 last year away from home -- and it becomes more pronounced in rivalry games. It's difficult to see Michigan going into Columbus, a place it hasn't won since 2000, and pulling out a victory.

Ohio State also won't be eligible to play in a bowl this year, so it can truly leave everything on the field in this game.

The closer matchups will be at Notre Dame and home against Michigan State.

The game agains the Irish is tough to call. Notre Dame hasn't settled on a quarterback, and it loses all-everything receiver Michael Floyd, who terrorized Michigan for 13 catches and 159 receiving yards last year.

But the game is at night in South Bend, and the Wolverines have forged three epic comebacks in a row in the rivalry. That run has to end some time, right?

The most winnable game of the three could be Michigan State, the team that has beaten Michigan four times in a row.

One of the biggest reasons the Wolverines lost the past two games against Michigan State was the poor play of quarterback Denard Robinson. He completed less than half his passes in those games and threw twice as many picks (four) as touchdowns (two).

Now, though, he's seen Michigan State's best shots, taken them on the chin -- and should be more capable of countering their schemes. His counterpart, meantime, is first-time starter Andrew Maxwell.

In a game this physical -- Michigan players call it the toughest game of the year -- it's sage to take the seasoned veteran over the rookie.

Plus, although Hoke would never admit it, this is Michigan's most important game this year, at least as it relates to winning a Big Ten championship. With tough road games to follow at Nebraska and Ohio State, its imperative the Wolverines not only protect their home field, but beat their biggest competition for the divisional crown.

Prediction: This is a tough one to call, particularly so early in the year. So much can happen before any of these games are played. But considering the Wolverines' recent road woes, as well as the current state of the rivalries, it is difficult to see them posting a winning record in these games. At this point, take the under.

Nick Baumgardner: None of these will be easy, and as per usual, they won't be short on storylines either.

First thing's first: Notre Dame. Michigan has had Notre Dame's number of late, taking three straight and five of the last six. The Wolverines already have their longest winning streak over the Fighting Irish since a seven-game spurt ended in 1909. The Irish no doubt have revenge on the brain, and will have a great home environment behind them -- but, well, there are a lot of buts.

Brian Kelly's team will likely start the season with another quarterback controversy, one that may not be settled by week three, and also won't have Floyd. Floyd's absence, coupled with the consistently inconsistent quarterback play, could mean Notre Dame is once again a turnover waiting to happen early in 2012.

On defense, the Irish lost their best player (defensive end Aaron Lynch) to a transfer and lost three starters in a secondary that was already more than suspect. For me, there's just too many question marks. Michigan has gotten better in areas, while Notre Dame seems to be stuck in neutral.

As for MSU and Ohio State? I can see Michigan getting one of these, but not both.

Michigan was physically mauled last season in East Lansing, and has had to spend the entire year hearing about its four-game losing streak to MSU basically on a daily basis. The Spartans have questions on offense, but defensively, they're a nightmare matchup.

Ohio State? Well, the Buckeyes have nothing to play for -- except beating Michigan, that is. Add in Urban Meyer and a road venue, and you've got quite the gas can.

Prediction: I'll take Michigan over Notre Dame early in the season, though it will be a close one -- as always.

As for Michigan State? We all know Hoke continually emphasizes the importance of Ohio State above all else, but in 2012, I think Michigan State might temporarily take that billing. The Wolverines' most embarrassing performance a year ago was against MSU. They were manhandled, mocked and have been poked at by MSU coach Mark Dantonio ever since.

It'll be a dandy, but in the end, I think Michigan's emotion at home will be too much for MSU to overcome -- and the four-game losing streak goes up in smoke. As for OSU? Urban Meyer has the luxury of putting literally everything the Buckeyes have into this one. This is their bowl game, league title and national championship all rolled into one.

Backed into a corner in July? I'll side with the Buckeyes. But for the sake of this debate, I say Michigan once again goes 2-1 against its three hated foes.

In 2012, I've got the over.


Wally the Wolverine

Thu, Jul 26, 2012 : 6:45 p.m.

0-3 for several reasons. 1. We have not recently demonstrated our ability to defeat upper echelon competition on the road. 2. We are very thin on a D line that is inexperienced. The fact that we're counting on career "underperformers" says volumes. Seems to indicate our secondary may continually be called upon to take risks with blitz packages. 3. While Moo U's QB is inexperienced, their O line and RBs are not. Looking at point 2 above, I don't know that we currently have the D line that can make a difference here. 4. There were a couple of games that Hemingway literally put in his hands and got us the W. Who else poised to step in and have a Hemingway-like year? 5. The team that everyone sees us steamrolling has one of the best Ds in the country, it seems to totally dismiss reality. Maybe DR has them figured out now and can have his way with them?? We are going to need A LOT of bounces coming our way if we are going to take one or more of these games. I wish I could be more optimistic.

Blue Marker

Fri, Jul 27, 2012 : 12:22 p.m.

I'll bet you never would have predicted Michigan going 11-2 last year either. Not many did.


Thu, Jul 26, 2012 : 6:06 p.m.

0-3. Count on it. What is there about getting drilled that makes you think things will be different next time, especially when your lines are worse? M was lucky to beat ND last year, they should have lost that game. Luck is with the Irish this year. M was dominated by MSU last year, who has basically the same team back, except for a better QB. Denard has never done anything (good) in this game, and will get blasted again. Have you not noticed a pattern here? M is going to go into Columbus and play a team that has a coach with a clue, unlike last year, and they're going to get steamrolled in OSU's "bowl game". Last year they had a lot of lucky breaks, this year the schedule is tougher, they've lost key players, and they won't get lucky again.

Blue Marker

Fri, Jul 27, 2012 : 12:08 p.m.

Michigan was within a touchdown with under five minutes left and deep in MSU territory in last years game. Is that domination? I guess when you're a Sparty it is. Notre Dame still dosen't know who their QB is yet. And the coach with "no clue" from last years OSU's game is their D-cordinator. I'm not saying Michigan will win all three but to tell people to count on 0-3 is just pure hate.


Thu, Jul 26, 2012 : 12:54 a.m.

"Michigan was physically mauled last season in East Lansing" Yes they WERE...and it is going to be even more of a physical mismatch in 2012. "Where's the treat" - Jaba the Hoke

Yost Ghost

Thu, Jul 26, 2012 : 3:45 p.m.

UM wasn't mauled last year. The game was close. Were it not for Drob's int's and the MSU DLine jumping gaps because they had the snap counts it might have ended very differently.


Thu, Jul 26, 2012 : 1:27 p.m.

So Tom, this, "physical mismatch in 2012" that you mentioned, I assume your referring that the mismatch will be in Michigan's favor ?


Thu, Jul 26, 2012 : 1:49 a.m.

"Jaba the Hoke"...I like that.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 8:43 p.m.

1-2, I think this is a difficult year for Mich.. call it a transition year it you like. I don't like the odds when Denard has to, "carry" the team. I think 2013 is the return of consistency to the Wolverine program. There is to much, if Denard has a bad game like last year at MSU, we lose. Every time Denard takes off the whole team is threatened because if the QB carries the team then as the QB goes so goes the team and the season.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 7:28 p.m.

1-2. Ohio State is still hurting, so they should get a win there. They were hugely lucky to beat ND last year and I doubt they'll be able to pull it off this year on NDs home turf. As for MSU, the fact that State will be playing with a well-established O-line rather than the patchwork unit they had last year will balance out the inexperience of Maxwell and his receivers. Look for Bell to keep the chains moving. Plus the defense is expected to be even better and has already shown it knows how to handle Shoestring, who can no longer count on Hemingway to pull his chestnuts out of the fire on his underthrown jump balls. The 3-point home field advantage won't be enough to cover the spread in this one.

Blue Marker

Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 8:07 p.m.

I'll take your 1-2 but believe it's MSU they'll beat. It's the safe bet when you look at winning % at home vs. away. I'll spare everyone the overly detailed breakdown.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 6:11 p.m.

Never understood the rationale behind hypothetical surveys...are we to assume um will actually have players out on parole who can take the field for these games?

Beaumont Tower

Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 5:20 p.m.

A lot of folks seem to expect a win over MSU based on nothing more than a desire to see the streak over with. But games are won for reasons, not wishes. And the MSU defense figures to be better than "good" this year. It's going to be REALLY good, deep and with a level of team speed that has already contained Robinson twice. It will be a tough game, granted. And if you're figuring that Andrew Maxwell will be less effective than Kirk Cousins, okay. But don't assume a win because U-M is "due." Barring injuries or a Maxwell meltdown, MSU is quite possibly be the most complete team in the conference.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 7:36 p.m.

Maybe no m-shoe savage will almost manage to rip Denard's head off this year and he will get to play the whole game. That could make a difference.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 5 p.m.

Loosing any of them will be a big disappointment. This team has some veteran players on both offense and defense. On offense I think the team will be fine if they cut turnovers and block well, catch a high % of catch-able passes and not allowing a defense to penetrate. In short, keep errors to a minimum. But once again, I put the emphasis on defense, the defense had to improve on shutting down long plays. A good defense will give the offense good field position. And of course, defense wins ballgames.

Terry Star21

Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 3:55 p.m.

Nick, you're a very smart man (talk to Kyle there), and the 24/7 sparty smack talk stops in October. Definitely 'over', like BornInA2 says above - "we will take all four (4)". These three games are all very winnable games. The advantage vs sparty is, once Michigan gets ahead - they pack it in, reminisce of the past 100 games. Win. The irish are similar in, once they get a lead they celebrate and can't hold it. Win again. I have the most respect for the buckeyes (but not their scary fans), but believe like some, the absolute pressure gets to saban then the players. Win (close) again. MgoBlueForTim....we're the big three's Threat & Nightmare.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 6:12 p.m.

reminiscent of the "past 100 games"? What series have you been following?


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 3:50 p.m.

I can see them going 2-1 at best. Hard to win on the road in College Football


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 2:50 p.m.

Even without Fitz and Clark, if the lines stay healthy, Michigan wins all three.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 6:14 p.m.

@Terry...dude, that just doesn't sound right.

Terry Star21

Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 3:43 p.m.

Yes. You can be my uncle anytime !


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 2:43 p.m.

Meeechigan will be at least 4-0 in these three games this year. Hail!

Terry Star21

Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 3:42 p.m.

My kind of thinking exactly !


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 2:09 p.m.

I have to easily say OVER. Michigan should be better this year despite losing Toussaint and Clark probably for 1 to 2 games. We could win all 3 of these games. ND loses Michael Floyd to the NFL (NDs biggest WR threat). The running game by ND might be about the same, but with Year 2 of Mattison's defense, I highly doubt ND will score that much on us and just don't see ND racking up 500+ yards on us again. MSU. I think they have hit their peak and it was last year. Losing 4 starting players on offense at key positions could be too much for the Spartans to overcome despite having a good defense. Could wear out that defense alot faster if their offense won't produce. Bell is no Baker. Baker was the workhorse against Michigan and Bell was stuffed. Besides Spartans also lose Worthy on defense. Ohio and Urban Meyer at the 'Shoe. Good coach but he doesn't scare me too much (Michigan hasn't lost to an Urban Meyer led team). Ohio could win this game as it is in Columbus. However it will be a hard hitting affair like the MSU game will be. Should be a close one. If Denard doesn't turn the ball over that much (1 turnover or less) in this game I see Michigan winning this one. Should be another exciting year for Michigan football. Go Blue!


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 2:07 p.m.

My expectation is Michigan beats ND and MSU. ND Head Coach Brian Kelly seems confused and he has not settled on a starting QB, nor will he. His great wide reciever graduated, so the ND offense should be at half strength. Michigan will be ready physically and emotionally for State. The new faces on the Spartan offense leads me to believe the Michigan offense can handle them. This could be a lower scoring game because of both defenses. Will defer for now on ohio since the game will be played in the snake pit. ohio has more than the rivalry game at steak, it will be their bowl game. Hopefully, Urban Meyer will put so much pressure on himself and his team, that they implode.

Terry Star21

Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 3:42 p.m.

Yes ! Good call.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.

"Recent history"...seems to be a common theme among some journalists and posters, but I don't get it. Some of the history referenced doesn't contain any of the current Michigan coaching staff or roster; more than a little silly. I'm not a fan of using Big Ten road game results from previous seasons to determine how Michigan will do on the road. How do the results of Indiana, NW, Nebraska and Iowa road games have anything to do with Michigan? Home field will have some impact, but I think the lights and atmosphere of a night game at ND will also help Michigan. Also, if you think they can win one or the other, isn't it possible that they could win both. Don't understand that logic. All three teams are going through a transition, while Michigan is putting together a special team. State will have a nice defense, but "where's the threat" from a first year QB? I'll stick with my initial thought of Michigan winning all three and take the over. Go Blue!


Thu, Jul 26, 2012 : 2:54 a.m.

Oh Tommy, no way you are trying to draw a comparison of State to Alabama. And I thought my objectivity was obscured by my heart. Wow! The only thing Alabama and state have in common is Saban...and even that is the difference between program and stepping stone.


Thu, Jul 26, 2012 : 12:49 a.m.

DUHWayne - Alabama won a national championship with a first year QB in 2011. DUH!

Terry Star21

Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 3:41 p.m.

Good call. You are a smart person.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 12:59 p.m.

A few days ago I would have said under. Now that Touissant and Clark wont be playing I think we lose at least 2 of the 3. All these teams had more depth before the suspensions. More so now. I still think we'll beat state at home. New QB for State.


Thu, Jul 26, 2012 : 3:04 a.m.

New QB for State is offset by having a well-established O-line this year, rather than last year's jerry-rigged unit. Given everything we've heard about Maxwell and the guys who'll be fighting for time at receiver, I think State's offense will be better than the unit you faced last year by the time Oct. 20 rolls around and they've got nearly 2/3 of a season under their belts.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 2:05 p.m.

I understand the thought process regarding Toussaint, but sometimes things like this provide an opportunity for others...Rawls.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 1:55 p.m.

Actually think that the loss of Clark will hurt more than Touissant, because defensive line is a position of weakness and inexperience, whereas if the OL doesn't block well--any running back won't have time to hit holes. If they do block well, I think all of the backs that we have will do fine. And don't forget, we have Hopkins who can carry the ball. (But sometimes the loss of players who do things that these are two alleged to have done does not hurt because the other teammates may not feel loyal to people who don't put the team first). That is assuming both are gone.

Paul R Lamse

Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 1:36 p.m.

So you still say "UNDER". Did you mean a few days ago you would have said "OVER"? Not clear to me.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 12:23 p.m.

No way, recent history makes the case. Go Green Go White or Go Home


Thu, Jul 26, 2012 : 2:50 a.m.

SEC fan, I admonish you again. Once again, you bring facts to the table. Need I explain to you, that does not matter on this site or in AA. We are MICHIGAN! I only need remind you of our 54% win record against lowly Michigan State since they joined the Big Ten in 1949. That speaks volumes. That is all.

Yost Ghost

Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 10:31 p.m.

@ SEC Fan Nice spin on the stats homer. Bear Bryant had 12 seasons (out of 25) with less than 10 wins (48%). So I guess he wasn't "dominate" either according to your definition. Keep in mind that Bo had 4 seasons where his team was bowl eligible but because of the exclusive B1G/Rose Bowl affiliation they didn't attend any bowl. Several of those seasons they would have been considered BCS eligible. The SEC never had such a restriction. It was much harder in the late 60's to mid 70's to reach 10 wins since many teams only played 11 regular season games compared to todays 12 game seasons. Bear Bryant had only two 10 win seasons in his first 5 years as head coach at Alabama compared to Mo's one 10 win season in his first 5 years at UM but one of those years Mo went 9-0-3. Bo was 2-1 vs. SEC and 19-11 vs. Pac12 Mo was 1-0 vs. SEC and 2-1 vs. Pac12 Lo was 5-3 vs. SEC and 3-5 vs. Pac12 Not sure you're qualified to define what domination is.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 7:55 p.m.

Scott - with Boise State replacing half of its starters this year, including its Wonderboy quarterback? In East Lansing? I don't think so.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 6:23 p.m.

um will "dominate" like they always do, except under RichRod? Lloyd Carr has 7 seasons (out of 13) with less than 10 wins (54%) Gary Moeller had 4 seasons (out of 5) with less than 10 wins (80%) Even the legendary Bo had 10 seasons (out of 21) with less than 10 wins (47%)/ You call that "domination"?


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 4:26 p.m.

What? A Spartan fan talking history? I thought that wasn't relevant in any way, shape, or form. In that case, recent history further makes the case that Michigan will dominate as they always have as long as their coach isn't named Rodriguez.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 3:23 p.m.

streaks always end at some point...


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 1:04 p.m.

You guys are going to get beat by Boise State in your opener. Recent history makes the case.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 12:19 p.m.

I'm going to say they win 2 of the 3, but I'm not sure which 2. I think ND will be one of them.

Paul R Lamse

Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 11:40 a.m.

My big concern is, like you said Nick, UM beat ND when they maybe shouldn't have. So, turn-around. Also, like was said, MSU embarrassed UM last year. (09 and 10 not so embarrassing.) If I know Coach Hoke and the UM team, they don't EVER want to be manhandled by any of their 3 main rivals. "Ohio State also won't be eligible to play in a bowl this year, so it can truly leave everything on the field in this game." To me, this is silly at worst, maybe redundant: When don't both teams "leave everything on the field." And "hated foes"? I think "most respected rivals" would be a more sane choice of words. I really don't think Woody and Bo ever "hated" each other. Just saying! For me, ND toss-up. Narrowly beat both MSU and OSU. OVER! Go Blue!


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 4:20 p.m.

JFR, I agree. I went to the Shoe the year Henson was our starting QB...Cooper's last season. UM won and my friend and I were harassed and about to be attacked by a mob outside the stadium before a huge mob of UM fans arrived on the scene and saved our butts so that we were able to walk out safely. There were seriously about 15-20 'fans' (thugs) ready to jump us. If that's respect, I don't want any part of it.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 3:22 p.m.

The people who root for Ohio State that harass me almost everywhere I end up in the country/world certainly don't make it easy to use the words "respected rivals." A bunch of their goons practically ruined my family's vacation in Mexico in the year 2006. My only takeaway is the one big goober said he was going to vote a certain way, and at least Michigan covered the spread so he lost his money.