Maybe Rich Rodriguez really was the problem.
Of course, the University of Michigan hired Rich-Rod to great fanfare to replace Lloyd Carr as head coach for the 2008 season and finally bring the spread offense to the Big Ten. Well, the offense was fine under Rodriguez but the defense and special teams were terrible and he was fired before last season after going 15-22.
Rodriguez never fit in with the old guard at Michigan, i.e. those who wanted a “Michigan Man” as the head coach. School officials found one in Brady Hoke, and his first season in Ann Arbor was a huge success. Hoke toned down the spread, and, perhaps most important, he hired defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. He was the Frank Broyles Assistant Coach of the Year finalist for leading a U-M defense that ranked second in the Big Ten and sixth in the nation in scoring defense (17.4 points per game). The Wolverines also led the Big Ten in fourth-down conversion percentage (38.1 percent), red zone defense (68.3 percent scoring efficiency), turnovers forced (29) and fumbles recovered (20). It was literally night-and-day different from 2010.
Instant $250 Free Bonus Bet from Bovada -
The Wolverines finished 11-2, finally ending their losing streak to archrival Ohio State and winning the Sugar Bowl, 23-20, over Virginia Tech. Although frankly, Michigan didn’t deserve a BCS bowl over a Michigan State team that beat the Wolverines (again) and played in the Big Ten title game. But no one ever said the BCS selection process was fair.
After a record-setting sophomore season, QB Denard Robinson’s numbers were down a bit in 2011 as Hoke/new Offensive Coordinator Al Borges altered the offense to limit Robinson running as much (largely to protect him health-wise) and include the tailbacks more. “Shoelace” still threw for 2,173 yards and 20 TDs (although completing just over 55 percent of his throws and getting picked off 13 times) and rushed for 1,176 yards and 14 touchdowns. He joined running back Fitzgerald Toussaint as the first U-M tandem to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards each since 1975.
Robinson loses No. 1 WR Junior Hemingway among six offensive starters, but Toussaint, who rushed for 1,041 yards and nine TDs in 2011, is back and so is likely All-American tackle Taylor Lewan. The defense brings back eight players but loses its best from a year ago in defensive tackle Mike Martin.
Michigan 2012 College Football Futures Odds
At 5Dimes, the Wolverines are +3600 to win the BCS Championship Game and +1600 just to play in it. Michigan is the +220 favorite to win the Big Ten Championship Game (“field” is -280 opposite Michigan) and +115 favorite to win the Legends Division (man, I wish the Big Ten would rename those silly divisions!). U-M’s regular-season wins total is set at 9.5, with the “under” a -215 favorite. QB Denard Robinson is +200 to be a Heisman finalist and +750 (third favorite) to win the Heisman. The Wolverines are 11.5-point underdogs for their season opener at Cowboys Stadium against Alabama.
2012 Michigan Wolverines Predictions
Outside of facing Notre Dame, Michigan has been known to have a weak nonconference schedule in recent years, but that changes in 2012 with the season opener in Arlington against defending National Champion Alabama, then a visit the following week from always dangerous Air Force and its triple-option. The Wolverines get Michigan State in Ann Arbor this year but could well be road dogs at Notre Dame, Nebraska and Ohio State (amazingly, 5Dimes actually has lines on those games already, with U-M +3 at the Irish and Huskers and 2.5-point dogs at OSU, but things can obviously change).
That Buckeyes game will be fun as it’s Ohio native and OSU Coach Urban Meyer’s first Michigan game and it will essentially be Ohio State’s Super Bowl with the team ineligible for all postseason play next season. Think Meyer will have his team fired up? So outside of Bama and the three road games mentioned above and perhaps vs. Michigan State, UM should be a solid favorite and win every other game (vs. Air Force, vs. UMass, at Purdue, vs. Illinois, at Minnesota, vs. Northwestern, vs. Iowa). I would go U-M and the points vs. Alabama – I’d be surprised if the Tide win by more than a touchdown.
I don’t see Michigan playing in the BCS title game, so throw that out. The Legends Division appears far more loaded than the Leaders, so I wouldn’t take U-M to play in the Big Ten title game (thus go field on that prop to win Big Ten title game). I see no more than nine wins, with likely losses vs. the Crimson Tide, Huskers and either the Spartans or Buckeyes. So go under there.
It’s rare that a senior is a Heisman candidate these days with most stars going pro either after their redshirt sophomore or junior seasons. Thus, I do like Robinson to be a Heisman finalist, almost as a career achievement award from the voters. But unless he’s way more accurate than a season ago, Denard won’t become the first Michigan winner since Desmond Howard in 1997 and first-ever Wolverines quarterback to win it.
Want more Michigan football predictions? Check out BetFirms for their 2012-13 preview. And to get $60 worth of free Doc’s Sports member’s picks (any sport, no salesperson ever!) Click Here.