Michigan Football season won’t kick off for another three months, but it’s never too early to take a much too-early look at the 2014 schedule.
August 30 vs. Appalachian State
At first glance, this is a terrifying season opener for the Wolverines. It’s hard to forget the “upset of the century”, which happened at the Big House just seven years ago.
Appalachian State, coming off a 4-8 season, is now a part of the FBS as a member of the Sun Belt Conference.
Although 2013 was a disappointing season, the Mountaineers are returning 17 starters, including running back Marcus Cox who rushed for more than 1,200 yards a season ago.
Michigan fans will be on the edge of their seats for the majority of the first half, but no need to fear the final outcome this time around.
Final Score: Appalachian State 23, Michigan 48
September 6 at Notre Dame
Heading into the final matchup of the foreseeable future, Michigan leads the all-time series against Notre Dame, 25-16-1.
Notre Dame is returning just 11 starters from 2013 (offense-6, defense-5). However, Everett Golson, who led the Fighting Irish to the National Championship game in 2012, will be under center once again.
Michigan’s running game will be the determining factor in this game.
Final Score: Michigan 27, Notre Dame 26
September 13 vs. Miami (Ohio)
Miami is coming off a winless 2013 season and have only won eight games over the last three seasons, despite playing in the MAC.
Michigan’s offense finds their groove in a blowout.
Final Score: Miami (Ohio) 16, Michigan 58
September 20 vs. Utah
After nine-consecutive bowl appearances, Utah has had back-to-back 5-7 seasons in 2012-13.
The Utes defense allowed nearly 400 yards per game in 2013 and are returning just five starters (11 total).
The Wolverines offense continues to roll, propelling Michigan to a 4-0 start.
Final Score: Utah 13, Michigan 34
September 27 vs. Minnesota
Michigan defeated Minnesota in the first week of Big-10 play last season, 42-13.
The Wolverines offense ran for 113 yards and four scores against the Golden Gophers, who are returning seven starters on each side of the ball.
Minnesota, coming off an 8-5 season, will be Michigan’s first test aside from Notre Dame.
Final Score: Minnesota 24, Michigan 26
October 4 at Rutgers
Formerly a member of the American conference, 2014 will be Rutgers’ first Big-Ten season.
Although the Scarlet Knights had a losing season in 2013 at 6-7, they are returning 16 starters.
Michigan got off to a 5-0 start in 2013 before suffering their first loss, on the road, against a surprising Penn State team.
The Wolverines could find themselves in a similar situation against Rutgers in 2014, but I think Michigan will shut the door in the fourth quarter
Final Score: Michigan 32, Rutgers 20
October 11 vs. Penn State
Penn State was sent in a tailspin once again after head coach Bill O’Brien departed for the Houston Texans. The program has at least another season until it bounces back from the whole Jerry Sandusky mess.
A 7-0 start seems lofty for the Wolverines’ talent level but if Brady Hoke wishes to keep his job for another season, he will have his team prepared to achieve a perfect record through at least seven games.
Final Score: Penn State 19, Michigan 23
October 25 at Michigan State
The game that the sate of Michigan has been waiting for: Michigan faces off against Michigan State in East Lansing.
The Spartans are looking to defend their Big Ten Championship and 2014 Rose Bowl victory, whereas the Wolverines are looking to prove that the state of Michigan’s best football program resides in Ann Arbor.
This will be a tough mountain to climb for Devin Gardner and the Wolverines, and an even tougher pill to swallow when they are defeated by Michigan State once again.
When it’s all said and done, the Spartans defense will dominate this matchup as it did in 2013. Michigan will add a few late scores to make the final outcome seem closer than the game actually is.
Final Score: Michigan 19, Michigan State 32
November 1 vs. Indiana
Michigan found themselves in a shootout with Indiana last season, defeating the Hoosiers 63-47.
Indiana will be a much-improved team in 2014, returning 18 starters from the previous season.
This game has the capability to reach 100-combined points again, but a devastating loss to the Spartans will be the reason that Michigan fails to claim victory in this matchup.
Final Score: Indiana 55, Michigan 49
November 8 at Northwestern
On the road against Northwestern is always labeled as a “trap” game, especially coming off back-to-back losses.
Michigan needed the perfect storm in order to avoid defeat against the Wildcats last season, but I believe the Wolverines will be prepared to make a statement in this game.
Michigan’s defense leads the Wolverines to victory.
Final Score: Michigan 31, Northwestern 12
November 22 vs. Maryland
Another Big-Ten newbie, Maryland had a 7-6 record in the school’s final season as a member of the ACC.
With Ohio State next on the schedule for Michigan, this could be a toss-up game.
Although Maryland is returning 17 starters, I don’t think the Terrapins’ defense can slow the Wolverines’ offense down enough to give their offense a chance to win this game.
Final Score: Maryland 32, Michigan 41
November 29 at Ohio State
This is it. The game that could eventually decide coach Hoke’s future.
Michigan had an opportunity to knock off the Buckeyes last year but failed on an attempted two-point conversion as the game came to an end.
Every ounce of me wants to say that Michigan’s running game can make the Wolverines victorious in this matchup, however, I just don’t see it happening.
Final Score: Michigan 32, Ohio State 35
2014 final record: 9-3