Monday, July 8, 2013

Michigan's final five may keep it from a Big Ten title in 2013

The college football season is just around the corner and the anticipation for the 2013 season is great for both Michigan and Michigan State.
The Wolverines have high hopes to make a run at the Big Ten title and the Spartans are hopeful to get back in the mix after a disappointing 2012.
Putting MSU aside for today, one thing that really looks like it could stand in the way of Michigan’s chances to win the Big Ten this season is its schedule, mainly its final five games.
The Wolverines will play five consecutive weeks of challenging games to end the season, then have to play the following week in the Big Ten Championship, if it hopes to win a conference crown this year.
Here is what the final five games look like for Michigan:
Nov. 2 at Michigan State
Nov. 9 vs. Nebraska
Nov. 16 at Northwestern
Nov. 23 at Iowa
Nov. 30 vs. Ohio State
Let’s start with the first game against MSU in East Lansing. The Wolverines have lost their last two meetings with the Spartans on the road and Michigan hasn’t won by more than a touchdown at Spartan Stadium since 1997. Win or lose, this game will be a physical battle and the Spartans will be treating it like their biggest game of the year. It will be a very tough start to a tough stretch.
Then Michigan heads home to face Nebraska. The Cornhuskers are arguably right there with Michigan in regards to winning the Legends Division in 2013. This will be the toughest game Nebraska has on its schedule. The home team has dominated both meetings, but the Cornhuskers come in with a veteran offense and one of the top playmakers in the Big Ten, quarterback Taylor Martinez.
Next up is Northwestern. The Wildcats will be coming off a bye week and eager to get a shot at Michigan after last season’s 38-31 loss in overtime at The Big House. Northwestern hasn’t exactly been a problem for Michigan in the past, but the Wildcats look to have a promising team this season. Beating the Wildcats at home could be a problem.
Following that tough road game, Michigan then heads to Iowa the following week. The Hawkeyes have won three of their last four against the Wolverines, and winning in Iowa City hasn’t been an easy task for the Wolverines as of late. Iowa may be the worst team on paper in the group, but beating the Hawkeyes in Kinnick Stadium is no small feat. Prior to last season, Iowa was 23-5 at home from 2008-2011.
The schedule closes with the big rivalry game against Ohio State at home. Certainly anything can happen in this game and Michigan will definitely be ready, but there isn’t much arguing that Ohio State comes into the season as the Big Ten favorite. Braxton Miller looks to be the Big Ten’s top player and quarterback this season and Urban Meyer has the most success of any coach in the conference. It will take everything Michigan has to win this game, and even if it does, can it possibly have anything left to win another game the following week, especially if the Wolverines face the Buckeyes again?
I think when you look at each game on paper, you can argue that Michigan can win each game. But winning all five in consecutive weeks seems like too great of a challenge.
How do you think Michigan will do in its final five games of the season?

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