The Maize n Brew staff took some time out of their busy schedules to look over Michigan's schedule and give some opinions. This is part one of two coming today. Look for more coming next week.
What Michigan game are you most looking forward to?
Shash - Absolutely looking forward to the Ohio State game. This year, it's their bowl game - with the development of Braxton Miller, it'll be a shootout. Ohio State is loaded, as always, and I can't wait to see Urban Meyer stack up against Brady Hoke. I know it's cliche, but a few of the early storylines for that game are fantastic - coaching matchup, QBs vs suspect defenses, skill player questions - and it's Ohio State. Shame on all of you if you say any other game.
DGDestroys - I'm most looking forward to the home match-up against Michigan State. As a recruiting guy, I'm always looking forward to hyped-up home match ups that will be a hot bed of recruiting activity, such as the Notre Dame, Nebraska, and Ohio State games of yester-year. This will be an excellent opportunity to end Sparty's run of recent dominance of the rivalry, as well as a critical piece on the journey to a B1G championship.
HoldtheRope - I would be lying to you if I said that I was feeling extremely optimistic about our chances to win this one, but...I'm definitely excited about the Alabama game the most. I spent my high school years in Alabama before heading up to Ann Arbor for undergrad, so this one means a little bit more. I'm not a trash talker at all, but if we win this game I'm going to do my best Mike Hart impression. I mean, Ohio State is obviously the easy answer for this question, but this year's opener is the most exciting opening game Michigan has had in a long, long time. Primetime, Cowboys Stadium, against the reigning national champions and current benchmark of college football success. You cannot ask for much more (except maybe Keith Jackson coming out of retirement to call the game...a man can dream).
Anthony - Alabama, hands down. Games that include a heavy underdog usually aren't the most hyped, but people tend to forget that Alabama is losing much of their defense while running a system that takes years to perfect. They're going to be good, but they're still very beatable and I can't wait to see if Denard's improvements are legitimate.
Sarah - You mean other than the Alabama game? Haha, I would definitely have to say Michigan State. It would be easy to say Ohio State but I'm looking forward to the Michigan State game more for 2 reasons: 1) it's a home game, and 2) we haven't beat Michigan State in 4 years. It sounds gross just to type that out.
SCM - Ohio. Despite the post-season ban there are a lot of compelling storylines even if you set aside the fact that it's the biggest game of the year, every year. Senior Denard, Urban's first crack at The Game (and at home no less), and a Michigan program with a chance to take 18 months worth of momentum and solidify it. The Maize and Blue haven't traveled to Columbus and won since Drew Henson's naked bootleg in 2000, it's time. 'Bama is an intriguing pick but it annoys me that it's a one off at a neutral site, can you imagine if this was a home and home? Michigan can still have a phenomenal season despite the outcome of the first game of the year (yay something approaching competent scheduling).
Alex - I'm really looking forward to the Michigan State game. It could very well be our only marquee home game of what looks to be a pretty underwhelming schedule (at least in terms of who's coming to the Big House this year). I honestly think that Michigan and MSU could be the best two teams in the Big Ten at the end of the year, so beating the Spartans at home would be a huge boost to Michigan's Big Ten Title hopes. Of course, Michigan State has beaten us four times in a row and this rivalry is getting the most heated it's ever been, so that just makes it an even bigger game.
Zach - If we were talking about the most important game then I would say Michigan State (Big Ten title race and all), but I am most looking forward to the season opener. Michigan hasn't had a regular season test like this in years, and it is the perfect measuring stick on which to judge Brady Hoke's progress with this program.
What Michigan game do you think is a trap game?
Shash - I think at Minnesota could be a trap game. No, wait, Michigan plays in D-I, not D-II. I think Northwestern might be tough. They're going to put up a lot of points, and I'm worried that an off day from Denard or an injury might mean a closer game than we might expect. They've got a helluva WR, I forget the name (Ed - Z: its Kyle Prater, former USC WR), but he will shred unless JT has the game of his life.
DGDestroys - Northwestern. Always Northwestern. If the team manages to knock off Sparty at home and Nebraska in Lincoln (on a primetime stage, no less), there will be an emotional high heading into this guy, and you never want to overlook Pat Fitzgerald's squad. Kyle Prater's immediate eligibility as well as Kain Colter's play-making ability make this a deceptively dangerous offense, and so long as Fitzgerald's coaching the defense, you know it's going to be a physical one. So long as the team doesn't fall into the trap of overlooking this game and focusing on a redemption match against Iowa and OSU the following week, it's a manageable win. But if the focus is lacking, the Wildcats are more than capable of snatching one away from the Maize and Blue.
HoldtheRope - Iowa would be a standard answer here (week before The Game), but looking at the schedule, the trip to West Lafayette on October 6th jumps out. Now, I'm not saying that Michigan loses that game, but Purdue should be improved. The Boilermakers are very solid at the skill positions on offense, and I would assume that the QB situation will have settled into some vague semblance of normalcy by then. On defense, Kawann Short should be a nightmare for the interior of our line. A first half like the one we had in Evanston last year could make this a close one going into the fourth quarter. Also, the game is at 4 ET, so the fans will have a few extra hours to get ready. Plus, Michigan has this one a week after travelling to South Bend. If Michigan sleeps on the Boilers, a nightmare 2-3 start could happen. Things probably won't turn out that way, but, anyway, this is my trap game.
Anthony - Air Force. This is really the only trap game I see on the schedule, especially because they're the only low-level team that Michigan plays who brings a specific offensive scheme that requires preparation in practice. UMass won't defend Robinson and Minnesota is still Minnesota.
Sarah - I think it's easy to say the Air Force game is our trap game since it's going to be post-Alabama and pre-UMass, but I honestly think our trap game will be at Purdue. Purdue might not win 10 games this season but I do think they will be much better. We also play them right (away) after an away game at Notre Dame, which as always, will be very intense.
SCM - This was a hard choice between Purdue and Illinois. The Illini occupy an awkward place on the schedule after coming off a road stretch of @ ND, @ Purdue, and then State coming to Ann Arbor the following week. Fortunately it's a home game, which makes me at least a little more comfortable. Purdue on the other hand is the third away game in a five week span that already contains two colossal road games with Alabama and Notre Dame. Guh, I'll go with Purdue as the trap game.
Alex - Northwestern and Iowa always seem to give us fits, so I'd guess that it will probably be one of those. Iowa could develop a very good passing attack by November and unless their running backs all spontaneously combust or something (which isn't out of the question), Michigan's defense could face a tough test in the Hawkeyes. Northwestern makes me more nervous because of their dynamic on offense -- Kain Colter is a mobile guy (and those invariably give Michigan defenses issues) and Kyle Prater could be the best receiver in the conference. Michigan should be much better than both of these teams and thankfully they both come to Ann Arbor, but I wouldn't be surprised to see one of these teams stage an upset bid to ruin Michigan's divisional title hopes.
Zach - Looking over the schedule and the above answers, it is clear that Michigan's schedule isn't just loaded with high end talent and marquee matchups, but with dangerous games against good but underrated squads. I could see Iowa, Northwestern, or Purdue all putting together good games and potentially scoring upsets. However, the game against Air Force worries me. That isn't an easy matchup the week after facing one of the best teams in the country. Michigan has a lot of youth and inexperience in the front seven, and a week after getting beat up by Bama its hard to adjust to the option. Air Force might not steal a win, but this is a game that'll keep everyone on the edge of their seat until later.