Before the 2009 season, I wrote an article entitled Michigan Football Forecast 2009: Mostly Cloudy With a Chance of Failure, that was met with much resistance and venom from Michigan fans.
I also met the same fate with my Michigan's Tate Forcier: Lofty Expectations Will Lead to Major Letdown article.
I was called idiot, moron, and hater, and those are just the names I can repeat. There were plenty of "R" rated terms tossed my way that are not safe for reposting.
In the Forecast article, I predicted that Michigan would win four games in 2009. In all honesty, I really thought they might win six and maybe even seven games, but as it turned out, they only won five.
They beat a couple teams that I thought they would lose to and they lost to a few teams I thought they could, or would beat, but in the end, my 4-8 prediction was almost exact.
Not to gloat, but who looks like idiots and morons now UM fans? I digress.
Since the Wolverines 2009 season is over and they are not playing in a bowl game for the second straight year, I thought I'd get an early jump on what 2010 will hold for them.
These predictions assume that RichRod will return as head coach, no current players file transfer papers, and that none of the 2010 UM recruits decommit before signing day.
Nothing is written in stone up North and you know what they say happens when you assume too much, so stay tuned...
Game One vs. UCONN
I actually believe UCONN could win this game, but I will give the talent edge to UM and it is in Ann Arbor so for those reasons, I have to go with Michigan in this one, but I do think it will be closer than most UM fans will expect it to be.
Game Two @ Notre Dame
I'm sure Charlie Weis, Jimmy Clausen, and Golden Tate will all be gone, but not all is lost at Notre Dame. There's speculation that ND wants to land Brian Kelly, Bob Stoops, Pat Fitzgerald, or Urban Meyer. I think Kelly is the most likely get, but in my opinion any of these coaches might consider taking the job, and any one of them would be able to coach the Irish to a win over UM. The cupboard isn't exactly bare in South Bend either. Dayne Crist was the nations' top QB recruit in 2008 and star-sophomore WR Michael Floyd will return as well.
Game Three vs. UMASS
No disrespect meant, but UMASS is an FCS team, and they are no Richmond or Appalachian State. This game should be a lead-pipe lock for the Wolverines. Think Delaware State from this past year. UM won that game 63-6.
Game Four vs. BGSU
Lucky for Michigan that QB Tyler Sheehan and WR Freddie Barnes are both Seniors and won't be on the field for BG in this game. Otherwise, they may have been headed for another loss to a MAC team (see Toledo 2008). Without those two guys, I don't see UM having too much trouble vs. the Falcons.
Game Five @ Indiana
The Hoosiers gave UM all they could handle back in September when the Wolverines escaped with a 36-33 home win after a controversial interception call that went against IU. QB Ben Chappell, RB Darius Willis, and WR's Tandon Doss and Damarlo Belcher, all starters, will each return for Indiana in 2010. This game could go either way, and in toss up games, I almost always go with the home team.
Game Six vs. Michigan State
The Spartans have won the last two meetings and return one of the best starting QB's in the Big Ten in Kirk Cousins, starting RB Larry Caper, and top WR's B.J. Cunningham and Mark Dell. Coach Mark Dantonio is 2-1 overall vs. Michigan and 2-0 vs. RichRod. I won't be in shock if Michigan wins, and I believe this one could be close, and a borderline toss up, but I'm taking the Spartans to win their third straight over UM.
Game Seven vs. Iowa
I don't see Kirk Ferentz leaving Iowa City and the Hawkeyes will return QB Ricky Stanzi, RB's Adam Robinson and the 2009 projected starter (before missing the season due to injury) Jewell Hampton, and top wide outs Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and Marvin McNutt, in addition to another solid defensive unit. I just can't see UM winning this game if Iowa comes into Ann Arbor with all these guys healthy.
Game Eight @ Penn State
Daryll Clark will be gone, but the Big Ten's second leading rusher Evan Royster will likely return. Sophomore QB Kevin Newsome will take over for the Nittany Lions. He has been favorably compared to OSU's Terrelle Pryor. He is also a former 2009 UM commit that decommitted and chose PSU over the Wolverines. He sounds more and more like Pryor, who shunned UM for Ohio State, and is now 2-0 vs. his former suitors. I expect Penn State, led by Newsome, to win their third straight over the Wolverines.
Game Nine vs. Illinois
If a coach's seat was ever hotter than that of Charlie Weis, it would have to be Ron Zook's. I don't think Zook will be back in 2010, and neither will QB Juice Williams. The cupboard is looking bare in Champaign and Illinois could be the worst team in the Big Ten next season. In my estimation, Michigan should win this game easily.
Game 10 @ Purdue
Purdue has beaten Michigan in the last two meetings and they have hope, as in Coach Danny Hope, of doing it again in 2010. If they can find a QB to replace Senior Joey Elliott, they just might do it. RB Ralph Boldin returns after a solid year in which he was only out-gained on the ground by PSU's Evan Royster and Wisconsin's John Clay. This game falls under my toss up rule so I am going with the home team Purdue, but Michigan certainly has a shot at winning.
Game 11 vs. Wisconsin
Badger RB John Clay led the Big Ten in rushing in 2009 as a sophomore and will have a legit chance to repeat that feat in 2010. Also returning will be starting QB Scott Tolzien and top WR Nick Toon. UW has won two of the last three vs. UM, and I see that trend continuing in 2010.
Game 12 @ Ohio State
I really don't think I need to say much else here other than Ohio State has now won six in a row over UM, Tressel is 8-1, and Terrelle is 2-0. I know Michigan fans that think UM is getting better believe that UM will start beating the Buckeyes again sooner than later, but I say to them, even if UM gets better, it's not like OSU is getting worse. In terms of quality over quantity, the Bucks are recruiting as well or better than Michigan and the running backs that the Buckeyes are going to have in Pryor's final two years makes USC's recent "stable" of backs look like a bunch of old gray mares. The Buckeyes will make it seven in a row and nine of 10. After their third straight losing season, and assuming RichRod wasn't already fired earlier in the 2010 season, there will be little doubt that his fate is sealed after going 0-3 in THE GAME.
Now, having said everything I said above, there are those three toss up games that I consider swing games (Indiana, Michigan State, Purdue) so ultimately with some lucky breaks going their way, or if UM somehow improves more than I expect, or if a couple of the teams I picked to beat them regress, then Michigan could probably win as many as seven games or eight games, but eight is really super-optimistic.
Let's assume they do win seven games next year.
Will 7-5 be enough to satisfy UM fans, alums, and the new AD?
Will it keep RichRod from losing his job, despite his third loss to the Buckeyes in three attempts?
Even though I feel fairly confident in my projections, these questions really cannot be definitively answered until sometime during the 2010 season so I'll just say it again—stay tuned.