2011 University of Michigan Football Season Predictions

Yeah, it’s me, the “basketball guy”, back for more.  It’s time for my annual attempt to predict how the University of Michigan’s football season is going to go.

I’ve been quite good at it for the last 3 seasons, during the ill-fated Rodriguez Era.  I correctly predicted 11 of the 12 results last season, all except the opening UConn win.  Many people haven’t liked my predictions, but they’re just predictions, not what I want to happen.  I would love for UM to go 13-0 every season, but that’s not the way it looks, yet.  I’m expecting the offense to be slightly less productive than last season, and the defense to be significantly less embarrassing.  Special teams?  Who knows…

Here are my predictions for the 2011 season:

 

Date Opponent W/L Record Comments
09/03 Western Michigan Win 1-0 Other than that unfortunate Toledo game in 2008, Michigan has always beaten MAC teams.  This WMU team is nothing special.  A nice first win for Hoke.
09/10 Notre Dame Win 2-0 This is the first home night game in Michiganhistory, and the team will deliver a big win in a close game.
09/17 Eastern Michigan Win 3-0 Eastern isn’t even as good as WMU.  No contest.
09/24 San Diego State Win 4-0 An intriguing matchup, since Hoke coached SDSU last year.  It could be a tough game, but UM should prevail.
10/01 Minnesota Win 5-0 (1-0) Minnesota will be better than they were last season, but not good enough to beat Michiganin the Big House.
10/08 at Northwestern Win 6-0 (2-0) After 5 home games in a row, UM hits the road. This will be a tough, hard-fought win.
10/16 at Michigan State Loss 6-1 (2-1) Yikes! It’s going to be tough to lose to MSU for the 4th year in a row.  It’s hard to win on the road in the Big Ten.
10/22 Bye The bye week comes at a good time, after 2 tough road games in a row.
10/29 Purdue Win 7-1 (3-1) Purdue has been slipping the last couple seasons. UM beat them at their place last season, and they should beat them inAnn Arbor this season.
11/05 Iowa Loss 7-2 (3-2) Back to earth for UM. With a 7-1 record and a decent ranking in the polls, people will be talking about a Big Ten Divisional (Legends) Championship before this game.  I’m afraid thatIowa is just too tough.
11/12 at Illinois Win 8-2 (4-2) This will be an emotional game, after last season’s triple-overtime thriller. Illinois wants this one bad, but UM wants it even more.
11/19 Nebraska Loss 8-3 (4-3) Sure, Michigan has playedNebraska before, but this is their first Big Ten meeting.  It’s a huge game, but Nebraska is just too good.  Nebraskawill probably win this game, the Legends division, and maybe the Big Ten title game.
11/26 Ohio State Win 9-3 (5-3) Finally, after losing to the (cheating) Buckeyes way too many times recently,Michigan has the team and the attitude to win. It won’t be easy.

 

That should be good enough for 3rd place in the Legends division of the Big Ten, and a good New Year’s Day bowl game.

It’s possible that UM might beat MSU or Iowa, but I doubt it.

It’s also possible that UM could lose to Ohio State, but I think we’re due.  They could also lose the Notre Dame game, but that seems less likely.

Big Ten Report – Week #03 (01/17/2011)

Big Ten Report ? Week #03 (01/17/2011)


 


Standings


Here are the current Big Ten standings, after Week #3 of league play:


 




































































 


Team


Big Ten


Overall


Wins


Losses


Percent


Wins


Losses


Percent


Ohio State


5


0


1.000


18


0


1.000


Purdue


4


1


0.800


15


3


0.833


Michigan State


4


1


0.800


12


5


0.706


Wisconsin


3


2


0.600


13


4


0.765


Illinois


3


2


0.600


13


5


0.722


Penn State


3


3


0.500


10


7


0.588


Minnesota


3


3

Nothing But ?Net – Week #11 – 01/17/2011 – Remember When This Season Looked Promising?

Nothing But ?Net ? Week #11 ? 01/17/2011 ? Remember When This Season Looked Promising?

There?s still a lot of basketball left to play for the Michigan men?s basketball team, but if they don?t play a lot better than they did Saturday at Indiana, it?s going to be a long, sad season.They played two games last week, and they lost both of them, but one of them wasn?t a surprise.On Tuesday, they played very tough against (#2) Ohio State in Crisler Arena,, and they lost 68-64.That was the third of their three games in a row where they didn?t stand much chance, the other two being at Wisconsin, and home vs. (#3) Kansas.Well, they lost all three, but they played very well against the ranked teams.Then came the game at Indiana.What a disaster!They got down early, and couldn?t do a thing to get back into the game.They ended up losing 80-61.The two losses drop Michigan?s record to 11-7 (1-4 in the Big Ten).They have now lost 4 games in a row.It?s hard to remember that 3 weeks ago, Michigan was 10-2, and the season looked very promising.

The OSU game was very encouraging.Michigan controlled the tempo for most of the game, and managed to slow down (but not stop) OSU?s star freshman center, Jared Sullinger.If they could have done something (anything!) to stop Ohio State?s 12-0 run in the 2nd half, they would have been in position to win the game at the end, instead of just trying desperately to tie it up.

After UM had played so well in back-to-back games against Top-3 teams, they should have been able to dominate a weak IU team.Sure, it?s tough to win on the road, but UM made IU look like the LA Lakers.It was the most discouraging game since the UTEP game back in November.

Looking at the stats for the OSU game, they were pretty much even except for one key category: free throws.OSU shot 17-for-25, while UM shot 5-for-7.That?s 12 extra points.Sure, OSU had a couple more rebounds (26-23), and a couple less turnovers (12-10), but the real difference was at the free throw line.

In the Indiana game, the problem was rebounding.IU had more than twice as many rebounds as UM: 37-18.That?s embarrassing.Shooting percentage was also a problem: IU shot 29-43 (67.4%), while UM shot 20-55 (36.4%).That?s how you get blown out by almost 20 points by one of the worst teams in the Big Ten.

Individually, there were several players with good stats.Michigan had 4 players in double figures in both games: Darius Morris(18 points), Zack Novak(16), Evan Smotrycz(14), and Tim Hardaway, Jr. (11) in the OSU game, and Morris (22), Hardaway (10), Novak (10), and Jordan Morgan(10) in the IU game.That?s the good news.The bad news was Morgan with 0 points against Ohio State, Smotrycz with 3 points against Indiana, 5 bench points vs. OSU, and 6 bench points vs. IU.

So, is this season in the toilet?Not yet, but it?s teetering on the rim.Michigan sure doesn?t look like an NCAA Tournament team, so we should be thinking more in terms of the NIT, but it?s hard to see them staying above 0.500 at this point.At 11-7, with 13 games left in the regular season, they would need to go 5-8, then 1-1 in the Big Ten Tournament to stay above 0.500.It?s hard to see 5 more wins, the way they?ve been playing.They should beat Iowa at least once, maybe twice, and maybe Indiana in Crisler, but the rest of the games look pretty bleak.Even Penn State, who Michigan beat in Crisler, is looking much better, and so is Northwestern.

As you can imagine, the Nothing But ?Net Expectation-O-Meter (NBNEOM) will have to be reset down to ?Not Meeting Expectations?.

The Big Ten season grinds on.This week, Michigan plays at Northwestern on Tuesday (01/18, 9:00 EST), then at home vs. Minnesota on Saturday (01/22, 7:00).Both of these teams are improved over last season, and both games will be a tough test for Michigan.A win in either game would be a major boost.

Go Blue!

Nothing But ?Net – Week #11 – 01/10/2011 – Welcome To The Meat Grinder

Nothing But ?Net ? Week #11 ? 01/10/2011 ? Welcome To The Meat Grinder

Yeah, it was a meat grinder for the Michigan men?s basketball team last week.They played two games against tough teams, and they lost them both.On Wednesday (01/09/2011), they lost at Wisconsin, 66-50, then on Sunday (01/09/2011), they lost in Crisler Arena to (#3) Kansas, 67-60, in overtime.As I said last week, I don?t know which was a tougher task: beating Wisconsin in Madison, or beating the undefeated #3 team in the nation at home.As it turned out, Michigan had a tougher time vs. Wisconsin, but they were both very difficult games.The two losses lower Michigan?s record to 11-5, 1-2 in Big Ten play.

Michigan played two good halves last week; unfortunately, they were in two separate games.They played very well in the first half of the Wisconsin game, and led by 2 points (28-26) at halftime.They controlled the tempo, and made Wisconsin play their game.They managed to push the lead to 4 points (33-29) early in the 2nd half, but then Wisconsin went on a 13-0 run, and the game was over.Once Wisconsin gets a lead in the 2nd half at home, they are virtually unbeatable.The young Wolverines panicked, and the rout was on.

Against Kansas, Michigan played a dismal 1st half (down 25-18 at halftime), but they came back strong in the 2nd half, and managed to force overtime in the last minute of regulation (51-51).They took their first (and only) lead of the game early in overtime (54-51), then Kansas stormed back and dominated the rest of the game.Still, it was encouraging to see UM fight back in the last 11 minutes of regulation, and take Kansas to overtime.

Unfortunately, a loss (or two) is still a loss.It?s nice that Michigan can play a good half against good teams, but they need to play two good halves to beat the big boys.

I?m trying to break my stats habit, but it?s hard.The stats tell the story in both games.Against Wisconsin, the culprit was shooting: UM shot 39.5%, UW shot 47.7%.The rebounding numbers didn?t help: UM was out-rebounded 29-21.In the Kansas game, it was 3-point shooting and fouls that cost UM the game.Michigan shot a miserable 3-point percentage (1-for-10 = 10%) in the 1st half, and it only got a little better in the 2nd half and overtime.They finished shooting 4-for-28 (14.3%).Ugh.The foul situation was the other big factor in the Kansas game: Kansas shot 31 free throws, compared to only 17 for Michigan.That was the difference in the game right there.

Individually, Zack Novak had a very good week.He was one of only two UM players to hit double figures in both games (15 and 12 points), and he was the leading rebounder for UM in both games (5 and 11 boards).That means he had a double-double in the Kansas game.He shot 3-pointers very well vs. Wisconsin (5-for-7), but not so much vs. Kansas (2-for-7).

The other Michigan player who had double figures in both games was Tim Hardaway, Jr., but he had to take a lot of shots to get those points.He had 10 points (on 3-for-10 shooting) vs. Wisconsin, and 19 points (on 5-for-19 shooting) vs. Kansas.He was 2-for-10 shooting 3-pointers vs. Kansas, which really hurt.

Then there was Darius Morris.He had a weak game (8 points) vs. Wisconsin, but came back strong vs. Kansas (16 points).The big problem was that he led the team in turnovers both games, with 4 in each.

Here are complete stats for the Wisconsin and Kansasgames.

?What about the all-important Nothing But ?Net Expectation-O-Meter (NBNEOM)?? you might ask.It stays right where it was last week: ?Meets Expectations?.The Wisconsin and Kansas games were games that Michigan was expected to lose, and they met those expectations.

Speaking of games that Michigan is expected to lose, there?s another one coming right up: on Wednesday (01/12/2011, 6:30 p.m.), Michigan hosts (#2) Ohio State in Crisler Arena.OSU is undefeated (15-0), and they have a really good freshman center (Jared Sullinger), which could be a big problem for Michigan, since UM is a little short on height.

Michigan plays one other game this week: on Saturday (01/15/2011, 8:00 p.m.), they play at Indiana.Now, Indiana isn?t that good this season, but they?re better than they were last season, and Michigan always has trouble playing in Assembly Hall.This is a ?toss up? game, but it?s a crucial toss up game, because Michigan will likely be coming in on a 3-game losing streak.

Go Blue!