Michigan football season previews

Due to the fact that the University of Michigan football season starts next Saturday at noon, many blogs are putting out previews of the upcoming season as well as reviewing the sad 7-5 season of last year. Boy it sucked losing to OSU AND Notre Dame, yuck. Anyways, here are what the various blogs are saying about the 2006-2007 season. Go Blue!

MGoBlog is always the first place I go for UM football coverage and their recent post brings back bad memories from last season, which they refer to as the “Year of Infinite Pain.”

It would be easy to dismiss the above as plain bad luck if Michigan didn’t scrape past the teams it did manage to beat. The Iowa and Michigan State games were won in overtime; Penn State was defeated at literally the last second. Even games against Northwestern and Northern Illinois were not cakewalks. Without huge, momentum swinging turnovers in both games they would likely have gone down to the wire. No, Michigan 2005 largely deserved the ugly record they collected with their play on the field. They could neither run nor stop the run. They could not pass. They elected to not block the punt gunners. Twenty-seven-yard game-winning field goals were to be missed by the fat little kicker. Opportunities to put the game away by converting on fourth down were eschewed in favor of fifteen yard punts. The defense was incapable of stopping opponents on first drives or last ones. Were it not for the magic of the wide receiver screen, Michigan may have set records for offensive futility.

The post went on to talk about this season’s offense and makes a few predictions, which include “I Heart Hart t-shirts are hot sellers by the ND game.”

Michigan Sports Center has been spending a lot of time talking about recent player commitments, but they did make a comment about the team’s pre-season rankings (14th).

Coming off of a 7-5 season, some may say that Michigan should be ranked lower than 14/15, but I feel that it’s just right. If the Wolverines had made it to the top 10, then I’d be the first to say that that is way too high, just as if they weren’t ranked at all, then I’d say that’s wrong too. I’m very happy with the #14 ranking as this is just another thing you can add to the list of comparisons with the 1997 season. Coming into the eventual national title season, the Wolverines were rated as the #14 team in the nation in most preseason polls. I’m not saying that this season will turn out the same as 1997, but it certainly is something to think about.

Motown Sports Revival, a great blog about all major Michigan sports teams, posted their 2006 season preview.

The last time Michigan was ranked this low in the pre-season, Michigan went on to win a National Championship. I certainly am not predicting a repeat of 1997 but in the one case that Michigan came into the season under the radar, they proceeded to exceed expectations. On a much smaller scale, I think the 2006 Michigan Wolverines will exceed expectations. As I stated in my New Twist on the College Football Preview, this is by far the weakest college football season in terms of caliber of highly rated teams in a long, long time. If Michigan played USC or Texas at home in September, I would actually expect Michigan to win. Those teams have zero experience at quarterback. The Trojans and Longhorns are just two of a slew of highly rated teams with big-time issues on offense or defense. So, Michigan gets better by simply staying the same.

The Blog That Yost Built has some complaints regarding the “Maize Out” promotion and that they shouldn’t rely on the fans, rather they should give away free t-shirts. I fully support that idea…

It doesn’t strike me as a very good promotion when you depend on the fans to do everything. If your entire marketing campaign for the year revolves around “Go Blue, Wear Maize” then why not try to facilitate it? It’s like they’re trying to do things half-assed. They’ll promote it, they’ll put it on the schedule posters, the press releases, on WTKA, but when it comes down to it, they’re depending on the fans to make it work. Either go all out, or don’t try and have the thing every year.

iBlog for Cookies has a great visitor’s guide to Michigan football with where to stay (hotels), how to get to Michigan Stadium, and places to check out. They also made a few predictions for the first two games against Vanderbilt and Central Michigan.

Michigan wins big both games.
Michael Hart has 300+ yards through 2 games.
Steve Breaston has 3 TDs.
All is well.
If Michigan loses either game, I may choose to stay abroad.

Maize n Brew has an interesting discussion about the suckiness of Big 10 mascots.

Michigan got an incomplete, as no one has had the balls to put a live wolverine on the sidelines in over 50 years. This is not a bad thing.

However, since we can’t have a live mascot on the field, is it really a good mascot to have? LSU puts a live bengal tiger out for everyone to see. Colorado runs out a live 900 lbs buffalo every game. Baylor, despite sucking, has a live man-eating bear. No team in The Big Ten sports a mascot as cool or deadly as any of those on-field mascots. Even worse, there isn’t a live mascot in the conference. Shouldn’t the mascot match the team?

They gave U of M a new more modern mascot, the Ford Explorers.

Overpriced. Overhyped. Situated in the heart of Michigan, it guzzles down more than your expectations. The Explorer takes three tanks to get from one end of the field to the other. It will let you down in new, never before fathomed ways. Tends to crap out during the end of the winter or the end of the fourth quarter. Once the crown jewel of college football/auto world, a series of setbacks have shown all of its flaws. Poor design work was exposed in a number of fourth quarter collapses and product recalls. You’re never really going to be sure what’s wrong with it until the warranty runs out or it hits the third game of the season. At this point your University of Michigan Ford Explorer could be one of two things: 1) A big ass behemoth capable of running over everything in its path; or, sadly, 2) a behemoth that is just as likely to blow a tire/engine/transmission, flip over, and kill everyone inside, taking your hopes, dreams, and football program along with it.

He goes on to give a more modern mascot for all of the Big 10 mascots. Check the post out, it really is a great and entertaining read.

Michigan Against the World has their preview for the next season out and take a look at all the key positions / lines as well as the overall season prediction.

As always, Michigan has the talent to compete against anyone. But, they have some ghosts that are looming large again this year. 0-7 in their last 7 road openers. 6 straight seasons with a September loss. 1-3 in the last 4 against Notre Dame. 1-4 against Jim Tressel’s OSU teams. The Wolverines start 2006 with 2 gimmies, Vanderbilt and Central Michigan. There are 2 weeks to get ready for what I think is the season’s most important game, the trip to South Bend. Michigan will have the opportunity to exorcise 2 of those demons in what should be an extremely hyped national matchup with a highly ranked Irish squad. If they can pull that one out, the confidence they get should be able to take them through to Columbus without a loss, where they will be in for an incredible test. Call me crazy, but I like our chances against an OSU team we could have beaten last season without Hart, and with 9 starters that they have departed from defense. We will have no problem with Penn State, and Michigan State, and potential trap games exist with Wisconsin and Iowa. If they lose the Notre Dame game, we may be looking at another 8-4, 9-3 season going into the bowl. Call me crazy, but I’m betting on the former. I don’t know where the loss will come, but I’m not predicting an undefeated campaign.

SEASON PREDICTION: 12-1; Big Ten Champions, Rose Bowl Champions

Stadium and Main gave reasons why the Notre Dame game is more important and then why the OSU game could be more important. Nick believes that the Ohio State game’s outcome is the more important of the two.

These lists seem fairly equal, but the timing of the OSU game (end of regular season) and the fact that they’re our #1 rival make “The Game” just a bit more important to me virtually every season. Some of my feelings about which game is more important have changed over the past few weeks, and will definitely change once the season starts. If ND loses at least one of its first two games and still beats Michigan (as I’m predicting), it will be ten times worse than it was in 2004, when they lost to BYU(?!) and still took us out. But, if Ohio State beats Texas (which I’m predicting, although I’m not sure why), and can survive a tough night game at Iowa, a victory over the Buckeyes to close the regular season will be indescribably sweet. So I’ll stick with my “must win at OSU” stance, for now. But both games are obviously incredibly important, for the reasons listed above, and many more.

Now if Maize and blue makes you sick, Rob at The Cheap Seats started up a new project called the Spartan Blog.

As part of my efforts to blog more and about the Wings, NHL, and other sports/games that interest me, I plan on writing post-game comments as well as linking to many of the blogs above. Go Blue!

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