2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 1 - West. Michigan at Michigan
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Sept. 3 at Michigan 34 … Western Michigan 10
CFN Analysis: It might have been just one shortened, rain-soaked game, but already the new Michigan appeared, at least on defense. Yes, Western Michigan moved the ball without much of a problem, and yes, the secondary struggled a bit too much, but when thing got tight, defensive coordinator Greg Mattison turned up the heat and the mistakes were forced. The Wolverines blitzed at the right time from the right spots, and even when Brandon Herron wasn't taking a pick back 94 yards for a score or fumble 28 yards for a touchdown, the defense was getting to the quarterback. Denard Robinson only ran eight time for 46 yards and couldn't get loose, but he completed 9-of-13 passes for 98 yards and didn't make any mistakes. Western Michigan is good, and even under the extreme circumstances, the blowout shouldn't be dismissed.
The Broncos have plenty to take away from the game with an excellent performance by Alex Carder – when he wasn't getting tagged or when his passes weren't getting tipped. He completed 22-of-31 passes for 183 yards with a pick, and WR Jordan White ripped apart the Wolverines for 12 catches for 119 yards. WMU actually outplayed Michigan in several ways, but the three turnovers and eight penalties were disastrous. Fortunately, Nicholls State is up next to work on the pass protection before kicking off MAC play against Central Michigan.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan has beaten Western Michigan 34-10 in a game stopped late in the third quarter because of lightning.
Both schools agreed to cancel the game with 1:27 left in the third during a second weather delay.
The Wolverines won Brady Hoke's debut with linebacker Brandon Herron returning an interception 94 yards for a touchdown and scoring again on a fumble return.
Fitzgerald Toussaint had 11 carries for 80 yards and ran for two TDs.
Denard Robinson was 9 of 13 for 98 yards and ran eight times for 46 yards, making him the team's third-leading rusher in the game.
Alex Carder was 22 of 31 for 183 yards for the Broncos with one interception and two fumbles.
Michigan's next game is a prime-time matchup at home against Notre Dame.
Western Michigan (0-0) at Michigan (0-0) Sept. 3, 3:30 ABC and ESPN2 and ESPN3
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Here's The Deal …
Week One of the college football season is always fascinating because of the unknowns. Sure, there are always going to be blowouts in cupcake games, and the big matchups of top teams will be entertaining, and then there's Western Michigan at Michigan. Come up with the possible scenario, and it could happen.
The high-powered Broncos have the talent and experience to be in the MAC title race all season long, and they have enough in the bag to upset the Wolverines. Michigan, in Brady Hoke's debut, could rock right out of the gate and could come up with an impressive blowout. This could go to overtime, this could be a shootout, this could be a turnover-fest – it might be the most unpredictable game of the Big Ten opening games.
Western Michigan closed out last year with three straight wins averaging over 41 points in each, and now all the parts are back including Alex Carder, one of the nation's best all-around quarterbacks. Eight starters are back on both offense and defense, while Michigan is truly loaded with veterans with ten starters back on the defensive side and nine back on offense. This is the year that Rich Rodriguez was trying to get to, and this is when the payoff should come. And now it's up to Hoke to collect.
With Notre Dame up next, everything has to be finely tuned in one week, and WMU should provide just the test to do it. This should be a fun shootout with plenty of twists and turns, and no matter how it turns out, it'll be a story.
Why Western Michigan Might Win: Is the Michigan defense really going to be any better? It's loaded with experience; the line looks like it could be great; and the coaching has gotten exponentially better with Greg Mattison in at defensive coordinator, but will it matter? This is a group that still has miles to go just to be mediocre after finishing 112th in the nation against the pass, 110th overall, and 108th in scoring. Nothing worked for this group last year, and while the improvement is expected, it's asking a ton for a defense to go from Gator Bowl miserable to brick wall in one offseason. Western Michigan's offense should be terrific, at least when it comes to passing the ball, and it'll keep the pressure on the Wolverine defensive back seven all game long. If Denard Robinson and the Wolverine offense blows up early, WMU should be able to keep up the pace.
Why Michigan Might Win: It's not like the Western Michigan defense was the 2000 Baltimore Ravens. The pass rush is strong, and the ability to get into the backfield is going to be steady, but until the last two games – allowing three points against Kent State and seven against Bowling Green – were aberrations. There were only five games when the Broncos allowed fewer than 26 points, and they won all five games with the lone victory when it allowed more than 26 coming in a 45-30 win over Eastern Michigan. Michigan is going to score more than 26 points. On the other side of the ball, the WMU skill players are terrific, but the line couldn't stop anyone's pass rush last year and it has to undergo a few major changes. If the Michigan defensive line is going to start out hot, this could be the game.
What To Watch Out For: There won't be a better matchup of quarterbacks in Week One. Carder finished 12th in the nation in total offense, while Robinson
was just about everyone's midseason Heisman pick,
led the Big Ten in rushing, and finished second in
the nation in total offense. There's talk of
Robinson seeing fewer carries and getting less work
to keep him healthy and in one piece - don't believe
it. Fine, so he might not run as often as he did
last year, but he should be in range for another
huge season on the ground with Hoke's attacks always
opening up huge holes for darting, quick runners.
Carder is a big, thick passer who was a big-time
recruit for the program, and he's showing why with a
next-level arm, good mobility, and a growing command
of the attack. At the end of last year he cut down
on the mistakes, improved his defense reading, and
proved that he's about to be among the best non-BCS
quarterback in America. This could be his national
coming out party.
What Will Happen: Shootout. The Michigan defense is far
better, and it'll be far more productive, but it's
not going to show it this week. However, the offense
will go ballistic. The Wolverine offensive line will
be dominant, Robinson will put up huge numbers, and
all will seem right with the world, but two bad
interceptions will keep the Broncos around. After
getting down early, Carder will bomb WMU's way back
into the game and should make it worth staying tuned
for in the fourth quarter, but Michigan will get
ahead for good on one big, back-breaking Robinson
CFN Prediction: Michigan 45 ... Western Michigan 27
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