2007 Michigan Wolverines
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Posted Dec 31, 2007

2007 Michigan Wolverines Season, Game Recaps, Scores and Reviews

2007 Michigan Wolverines

2007 Recap: Arguably one of the most peculiar seasons in school history, Michigan began the year with an epic loss to Appalachian State, ended it by upsetting defending champ Florida, and in between, fought like hell to pick up the pieces from an 0-2 start.  It certainly wasn't the season most expected in Ann Arbor, but the Wolverines showed a lot guts by battling through injuries for eight straight wins before losing to Wisconsin and Ohio State in the final two regular season games.  In many ways, the season marked an end of an era at Michigan, as Lloyd Carr retired after 13 years on the sidelines, and QB Chad Henne, RB Mike Hart, and LT Jake Long concluded stellar careers as four-year starters.     

Offensive Player of the Year: RB Mike Hart

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Shawn Crable

Biggest Surprise: Crable.  An enigma and an underachiever for most of his first three seasons, Crable exploded in his senior year for a team-high 90 tackles, 28.5 tackles for loss, and 7.5 sacks.  Finally tapping into all of his freakish athletic ability, Crable was the catalyst of a defense that regrouped nicely after a rough start.  

Biggest Disappointment: Losing in the first two weeks to Appalachian State and Oregon, ending any hope of fulfilling preseason forecasts.  The Wolverines were widely viewed as the Big Ten favorite and a strong contender for New Orleans, but after yielding 73 points over the first two Saturdays, the team goals were irreparably altered.  

Looking Ahead: With Carr out and former West Virginia head man Rich Rodriguez in, things may never again be the same in Ann Arbor.  Considering the offensive upheaval that'll be taking place on the two-deep and in the playbook, Rodriguez's value to the Wolverines may not be fully felt until the 2009 season.   

- 2007 Michigan Preview
2006 Michigan Season

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2007 Record: 9-4

Sept. 1 App. State L 34-32
Sept. 8 Oregon L 39-7
Sept. 15 Notre Dame W 38-0
Sept. 22 Penn State W 14-9
Sept. 29 at Nwestern W 28-16
Oct. 6 Eastern Michigan W 33-22
Oct. 13 Purdue W 48-21
Oct. 20 at Illinois W 27-17
Oct. 27 Minnesota W 34-10
Nov. 3 at Michigan State W 28-24
Nov. 10 at Wisconsin L 37-21
Nov. 17
Ohio State L 14-3
Capital One Bowl
Jan. 1 Florida W 41-35

Jan. 1
2008 Capital One Bowl
Michigan 41 ... Florida 35

Michigan rolled up 524 yards of total offense, but it needed to come back late and hold on to seal the stunning win. Florida stayed alive on four Wolverine turnovers, including two fumbles from Mike Hart, as Tim Tebow threw three touchdown passes and Percy Harvin scored twice on the way to a 35-31 fourth quarter lead. The Wolverines rallied late with an 18-yard touchdown catch from Adrian Arrington with 4:12 to play to take the lead, and a 41-yard K.C. Lopata field goal made it a six-point margin with just over two minutes to play. But Tebow would get one more shot with the ball on his own 23. Four misfires later, including an errant fourth down pass under pressure, and the Wolverines sent head coach Lloyd Carr out a winner. Chad Henne threw three touchdown passes and Hart ran for two short scores, but Florida was able to crank out yards in chunks thanks to Harvin, who amassed 242 yards of total offense.
Offensive Player of the Game: Florida WR Percy Harvin ran 13 times for 165 yards and a touchdown and led the team with nine catches for 77 yards and a score
Defensive Player of the Game: Michigan SS Jamar Adams made nine tackles, a sack, and had a quarterback hurry
Stat Leaders: Michigan- Passing: Chad Henne, 25-39, 373 yds, 3 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Mike Hart, 32-129, 2 TD. Receiving: Adrian Arrington, 9-153, 2 TD
Florida - Passing: Tim Tebow, 17-33, 154 yds, 3 TD
Percy Harvin, 13-165, 1 TD. Receiving: Percy Harvin, 9-77, 1 TD

Thoughts & Notes ... 5 Thoughts on the Capital One Bowl ... Michigan took things to a level it hasn't been at in years. It was flying around on defense, dominant on offense, and with Chad Henne and Mike Hart healthy, the attack was unstoppable by everything but turnovers. Sure, wanting to send head coach Lloyd Carr out with a bang was a motivation, but for Henne, Hart and Jake Long, is was about ending their careers with a real, live big win. ... Third down conversions: Michigan 10 of 15, Florida 2 of 11. ... The Florida secondary might be young, but it has to be a whole heck of a lot better going into next year. It gave up too many big plays and had a nightmare of a time against the big Wolverine receivers. ... If Mike Hart had been 100% all season long, would he have won the Heisman? As he showed against the Gators, he's a special player when he gets to control a game.

Nov. 17
Ohio State 14 ... Michigan 3
Chris Wells scored from one and 62 yards out and the defense held Michigan to 91 yards of total offense as Ohio State won a sloppy game filled with several slips and dropped passes. The Wolverines gained just 15 yards rushing with Mike Hart gutting it out through a gimpy ankle for 44 yards. Chad Henne struggled through his shoulder injury to complete 11 of 34 passes, but he was plagued by several drops. The Buckeyes held on to the ball for 37:50 as Michigan converted just three of 18 third down conversion attempts.
Player of the game: Ohio State RB Chris Wells ran 39 times for 222 yards and two touchdowns, and DE Vernon Gholston made five tackles, three sacks and four tackles for loss.
Stat Leaders: Michigan - Passing: Chad Henne, 11-34, 68 yds
Rushing: Mike Hart, 18-44. Receiving: Mario Manningham, 5-34
Ohio State - Passing: Todd Boeckman, 7-13, 50 yds, 1 INT
Chris Wells, 39-222, 2 TD. Receiving: Brian Robiskie, 2-21

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Chad Henne didn't look right from the start against the Buckeyes, but his receivers did nothing, nothing to help him out. The Buckeye lines whipped the Wolverine lines from the start, while Henne and the offense had far too many quick, empty drives to help out the defense. Despite allowing 222 yards to Beanie Wells, the Michigan D did a nice job of keeping it close. The offense simply didn't show up, although OSU had a lot to do with that.

Nov. 10
Wisconsin 37 ... Michigan 21
Wisconsin outgained Michigan 237 yards to 47 on the ground with Zach Brown rushing for 108 yards and touchdown runs from six and two yards out, with both scores putting the game away late in the fourth quarter. Playing without Mike Hart, and with Chad Henne leaving the game early, Ryan Mallett stepped in and bombed away, hitting Mario Manningham on a 97-yard touchdown, the longest pass play in Michigan history, along with a 12-yard scoring pass. A 26-yard touchdown catch from Adrian Arrington pulled the Wolverines within two midway through the fourth, but the Badger ground game went to work to close it out. The Badgers held on to the ball for 38:15, and over 21 minutes in the second half.
Player of the game: Wisconsin DE Matt Shaughnessy made seven tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 2.5 tackles for loss
Stat Leaders: Michigan - Passing: Ryan Mallett, 11-36, 245 yds, 3 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Carlos Brown, 9-38. Receiving: Adrian Arrington, 7-101, 1 TD
Wisconsin - Passing: Tyler Donovan, 14-27, 245 yds, 1 TD
Zach Brown, 27-108, 2 TD. Receiving: Paul Hubbard, 7-134

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Michigan basically played Wisconsin to get to Ohio State, saving Chad Henne and Mike Hart for the big prize next week. The gameplan appeared to be to let Ryan Mallett keep bombing away on the Badger corners, forget about the running game, and hope for the best. While Mario Manningham came up with two touchdowns, including an all-timer of a 97-yard play, Mallett got burned by starting him down too often. Take the loss with a grain of salt; the real Michigan will show up next week.

Nov. 10
Wisconsin 37 ... Michigan 21
Wisconsin outgained Michigan 237 yards to 47 on the ground with Zach Brown rushing for 108 yards and touchdown runs from six and two yards out, with both scores putting the game away late in the fourth quarter. Playing without Mike Hart, and with Chad Henne leaving the game early, Ryan Mallett stepped in and bombed away, hitting Mario Manningham on a 97-yard touchdown, the longest pass play in Michigan history, along with a 12-yard scoring pass. A 26-yard touchdown catch from Adrian Arrington pulled the Wolverines within two midway through the fourth, but the Badger ground game went to work to close it out. The Badgers held on to the ball for 38:15, and over 21 minutes in the second half.
Player of the game: Wisconsin DE Matt Shaughnessy made seven tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 2.5 tackles for loss
Stat Leaders: Michigan - Passing: Ryan Mallett, 11-36, 245 yds, 3 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Carlos Brown, 9-38. Receiving: Adrian Arrington, 7-101, 1 TD
Wisconsin - Passing: Tyler Donovan, 14-27, 245 yds, 1 TD
Zach Brown, 27-108, 2 TD. Receiving: Paul Hubbard, 7-134

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Michigan basically played Wisconsin to get to Ohio State, saving Chad Henne and Mike Hart for the big prize next week. The gameplan appeared to be to let Ryan Mallett keep bombing away on the Badger corners, forget about the running game, and hope for the best. While Mario Manningham came up with two touchdowns, including an all-timer of a 97-yard play, Mallett got burned by starting him down too often. Take the loss with a grain of salt; the real Michigan will show up next week.

Nov. 3
Michigan 28 ... Michigan State 24
Michigan overcame a late ten-point deficit with a 14-yard Greg Mathews touchdown catch and with 2:28 to play, a 31-yard Mario Manningham grab. The Wolverine defense hung on as the Spartans sputtered out. Chad Henne finished the game with four touchdown passes, with two going to Manningham, while Mike Hart came back from injury to get 110 yards. The Spartans cranked out 352 yards with two one-yard Jehuu Caulcrick touchdown runs and Kellen Davis making a five-yard scoring grab in the fourth.
Player of the game: Michigan QB Chad Henne completed 18 of 33 passes for 211 yards and four touchdowns with an interception
Stat Leaders: Michigan State - Passing: Brian Hoyer, 19-35, 161 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Javon Ringer, 15-128. Receiving: Devin Thomas, 7-65
Michigan - Passing: Chad Henne, 18-33, 211 yds, 4 TD, 1 INT
Mike Hart, 15-110. Receiving: Mario Manningham,
8-129, 2 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Michigan appeared to have lost all the momentum, MSU was rolling in the fourth quarter, and the Rose Bowl dream appeared to be in big trouble, and then Chad Henne started throwing like the senior leader he is. Henne and Mike Hart don't seem to be 100%, but they're still effective and they're still adding a steadiness to the attack. Jamar Adams and Obi Ezeh had tremendous games combining for 27 tackles, with Ezeh coming up with two sacks and three tackles for loss. This was tough test number one. Even though this was a rivalry game, the date at Wisconsin will be even tougher.

Oct. 27
Michigan 34 ... Minnesota 10
By land and air, Michigan did what it wanted to against Minnesota with 561 yards of total offense in the easy win ... after about 20 minutes. Minnesota took an early 10-0 lead highlighted by a Dominique Barber fumble return for a score, and then Michigan scored the final 34 points. Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown each ran for over 100 yards, with Brown scoring from five yards out in the third, and capping it off with an 85-yard dash. Mario Manningham scored on a 40-yard touchdown to put things well out of reach. Minnesota was held to 231 yards of total offense.
Player of the game: Michigan WR Mario Manningham made five catches for 162 yards and a touchdown
Stat Leaders: Minnesota - Passing: Adam Weber, 14-30, 99 yds
Rushing: Duane Bennett, 20-106. Receiving: Ernie Wheelwright, 6-40
Michigan - Passing: Ryan Mallett, 11-20, 233 yds, 1 TD
Brandon Minor, 21-157, 1 TD. Receiving: Mario Manningham, 5-162, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Minnesota has an offense. It's not consistent, but it cranks out yards in chunks. Michigan all but shut it down cold, and while the offense will get all the headlines, with Mario Manningham having a brilliant day, and the combination of Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown easily making up for the absence of Mike Hart, it was the defense that made the game a blowout. Now comes the fun part with Michigan State, Wisconsin and Ohio State to close out a wild year. Ryan Mallett was fine this week, and Minor and Brown are great, but getting Henne and Hart back next week is a must.

Oct. 20
Michigan 27 ... Illinois 17
Mike Hart was out, Chad Henne got hurt, and Illinois was rolling with a 14-3 first half lead on a 26-yard Jacob Willis touchdown catch and an eight-yard run from Daniel Dufrene, but then the Michigan offense got the receivers involved as Mario Manningham caught an eight-yard touchdown pass, later caught an 11-yard pass from WR Adrian Arrington to break a 17-17 tie midway through the fourth quarter. Arrington also caught a 14-yard touchdown pass as part of the 24-3 run. K.C. Lopata nailed a 39-yard field goal to put the Wolverines up ten late.
Player of the game: Michigan QB Chad Henne completed 18 of 26 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns with an interception
Stat Leaders: Illinois - Passing: Juice Williams, 8-14, 70 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Rashard Mendenhall, 18-85. Receiving: Arrelious Benn, 5-35
Michigan - Passing: Chad Henne, 18-26, 201 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Carlos Brown, 25-113. Receiving: Mario Manningham, 9-109, 2 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Michigan showed tremendous heart against Illinois, and it also showed that with its talented receivers, it can find ways to win in tough situations. Chad Henne got hurt and had to leave for a time, but he came back and gutted his way though to lead the team to the win. And that was without Mike Hart. Now comes the layup against an awful Minnesota to get everyone healthy again before dealing with Michigan State. Everyone's talking about Ohio State, but Michigan is still unbeaten in Big Ten play. It seems like that's forgotten.

Oct. 13
Michigan 48 ... Purdue 21
Mario Manningham had a career day with 147 yards and touchdown catches from 24 and 21 yards out as Michigan got out to a 48-7 lead before the Boilermakers scored two touchdowns in the final 47 seconds. Mike Hart ran for two first half touchdowns to help the game get out of hand, and then Carlos Brown put it well out of reach in the fourth quarter on touchdown runs from 29 yards and one yard out. Purdue only gained 292 yards of total offense and turned it over four times.
Player of the game: Michigan WR Mario Manningham caught eight passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Purdue - Passing: Joey Elliott, 12-19, 140 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Kory Sheets, 4-19. Receiving: Dustin Keller, 7-68
Michigan - Passing: Chad Henne, 21-28, 264 yds, 2 TD
Mike Hart, 21-102, 2 TD. Receiving: Mario Manningham, 8-147, 2 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Now that's the Michigan offense we've all been waiting for. Against Purdue, the attack was balanced, explosive, and opportunistic with Mike Hart running well and Chad Henne playing like Chad Henne again. This was how it was supposed to be from the start, helped by the play of the offensive line. Henne got all the time he wanted to throw, and Hart had plenty of room to move through the Boilermaker D. Now it's up Carlos Brown, and others, to start taking even more of the workload from Hart, who had problems with an ankle injury. If the Wolverines can roll up Illinois in Champaign next week, then you know things are back to normal.

Oct. 6
Michigan 33 ... Eastern Michigan 22
It wasn't a smooth game, but Michigan was able to get ahead 10-0 and never trail, as Chad Henni connected with Adrian Arrington for a 31-yard touchdown, while Mike Hart became the school's all-time leading rusher and ran for scores from four, 24 and 17 yards out. Eastern Michigan stated alive early on two Zack Johnson field goals, and a two-point conversion off a blocked extra point, and pulled within two on a ten-yard Andy Schmitt touchdown run, but the Wolverines cranked out 17 straight points to finally pull away.
Player of the game: Michigan RB Michael Hart ran for 215 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries, catching three passes for 18 yards.
Stat Leaders: Eastern Michigan - Passing: Andy Schmitt, 15-28, 108 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Andy Schmitt, 9-41, 1 TD. Receiving: Travis Lewis, 4-54
Michigan - Passing: Chad Henne, 17-26, 195 yds, 1 TD, 2 INTs
Mike Hart, 22-215, 3 TDs. Receiving: Adrian Arrington, 6-102, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... It's time to worry again. Eastern Michigan is one of the worst teams in America, with no offense whatsoever, and it was able to get 304 yards with a little bit of balance. Of course Michigan was able to run the ball on the porous Eagle front seven, and of course Mike Hart was Mike Hart, but this is a team in desperate need of confidence boosts every game, and it certainly didn't get one this week. This kind of a performance won't work against Purdue or Illinois in the next two weeks.

Sept. 29
Michigan 28 ... Northwestern 16
Northwestern owned the first half, but managed three field goals and just one touchdown, while Michigan owned the second half with three touchdowns. Chad Henne threw three touchdown passes, with two to Mario Manningham from 11 and 16 yards, out, and Mike Hart punched in a one-yard scoring run late in the fourth for a little breathing room. The Wildcats got up on a 49-yard Omar Conteh scoring run, but five turnovers proved costly.
Player of the game: Michigan LB Shawn Crable had 10 tackles, five tackles for loss, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a sack.
Stat Leaders: Michigan - Passing: Chad Henne, 18-27, 193 yds, 3 TD
Rushing: Mike Hart, 30-106, 1 TD. Receiving: Mario Manningham, 10-123, 1 TD
NorthwesternPassing: C.J. Bacher, 22-42, 289 yds, 3 INTs
Omar Conteh, 15-115, 1 TD. Receiving: Ross Lane, 6-87

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Michigan faced a spread offense and survived. Northwestern doesn't use a running quarterback like Appalachian State or Oregon, but at least the Wolverine defense showed it could handle the attack. Sort of. The Wildcats outgained the Wolverines 417 yards to 380, but turnovers proved to be the difference. Chad Henne played a tight, relatively conservative game, not taking any big chances. That's what a veteran does, making the plays needed to be made and not turning the ball over. Now the team has use the Eastern Michigan game to work on being more explosive.

Sept. 22
Michigan 14 ... Penn State 9
Michigan got a ten-yard touchdown run from Ryan Mallett and a tough one-yard Mike Hart score, and let the defense do the rest. Penn State was held to 270 yards of total offense and only managed three Kevin Kelly field goals. Following a 31-yard Kelly field goal with just over six minutes to play, Penn State didn't get the ball back until there was just 1:28 to play. On its own 13, Anthony Morelli threw four straight incompletions, with two almost intercepted, to seal the win for the Wolverines.
Player of the game: Michigan RB Mike Hart ran 44 times for 153 yards and a touchdown
Stat Leaders: Penn State - Passing: Anthony Morelli, 15-31, 169 yds
Rushing: Rodney Kinlaw, 12-69. Receiving: Deon Butler & Jordan Norwood, 3-30
Michigan - Passing: Ryan Mallett, 16-29, 170 yds, 1 INT
Mike Hart, 44-153, 1 TD. Receiving: Adrian Arrington, 6-70
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Now Michigan is close to being back to Michigan. Penn State really is a good team, and the Wolverine defense did a fantastic job of shutting things down and not letting the Nittany Lion get into any sort of a groove. Offensively, the running of Mike Hart was able to take over the offense and not force Ryan Mallett to force any tough throws of take many chances. If might not have been Hart's greatest performance, but with 44 carries, it has to be considered one of them. But this was a game for the defense that has been so poor against the pass so far, but held the Nittany Lions when it had to.

Sept. 15
Michigan 38 ... Notre Dame 0
Michigan dominated Notre Dame on both sides of the ball, as Mike Hart ran for two first half touchdowns, Ryan Mallett threw touchdown passes to Greg Mathews, Adrian Arrington and Mario Manningham, and the defense came up with eight sacks and held the Irish to -6 net rushing yards. Notre Dame only averaged 1.4 yards per play and turned it over four times.
Player of the game: Michigan RB Mike Hart ran 35 times for 187 yards and two touchdowns and caught two passes for 14 yards
Stat Leaders: Notre Dame - Passing: Jimmy Clausen, 11-17, 74 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: James Aldridge, 10-51. Receiving: David Grimes, 3-10
Michigan - Passing: Ryan Mallett, 7-15, 90 yds, 3 TD
Mike Hart, 35-187, 2 TD. Receiving: Mario Manningham, 2-35, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Everyone can exhale and take a break for a week. Yes, Notre Dame has far, far more problems than Michigan, but was this a mirage? Penn State isn't Notre Dame, and to have a chance next week, Ryan Mallett will have to be more effective deep, since Mike Hart might not be effective enough against a stout Nittany Lion defensive front. Mallett might have only completed seven passes, but he showed glimpses of why everyone is raving about him. He has a next-level arm, and surprisng touch for a true freshman. Defensively, the Wolverines finally got a break by not facing a spread offense. This might have been just the confidence boost needed to finally play like it's supposed to.

Sept. 8
Oregon 39 ... Michigan 7
Oregon rolled up 624 yards of total offense as it ripped through the Michigan defense and over it at will. The Wolverines had a first quarter lead on a seven-yard Adrian Arrington touchdown catch, and then Dennis Dixon went to work with an 85-yard touchdown pass to Brian Paysinger, a 61-yard touchdown pass to Derrick Jones, and a nine-yard scoring run, to go along with a two-yard Jonathan Stewart touchdown dash, for a 32-7 halftime lead. Dixon connected with Jaison Williams for a 46-yard touchdown in the third quarter, and then eased up on the gas.
Player of the game: Oregon QB Dennis Dixon completed 16 of 25 passes for 292 yards and three touchdowns and ran 16 times for 76 yards and a score
Stat Leaders: Oregon - Passing: Dennis Dixon, 16-25, 292 yds, 3 TD
Rushing: Jonathan Stewart, 15-111, 1 TD. Receiving: Brian Paysinger, 4-97, 1 TD
Michigan - Passing: Chad Henne, 12-23, 172 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Mike Hart, 25-127. Receiving: Mario Manningham, 8-117
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... After the Appalachian State loss, the general feeling was that Michigan would get it back together, be fully focused, and come back roaring against Oregon. There's one problem; the Wolverines don't have any defense whatsoever. The secondary was embarrassingly out of place all game long, and the defensive front got run over and through by Jonathan Stewart. It's not that Michigan isn't fast or athletic; it's that it's not very good. The offense wasn't any better, outside of Mike Hart, and now the pressure is on more than ever considering the defense isn't going to do anything.

Sept. 1
Appalachian State 34 ... Michigan 32
Appalachian State pulled off one of the biggest stunners in college football history after Corey Lynch blocked a 37-yard Jason Gingell field goal attempt as time ran out. ASU gave the Wolverines all they could handle in the first half, as QB Armanti Edwards completed all seven of his passes with two touchdown throws to Dexter Jackson, a nine-yard scoring strike to Hans Batichon, and a six-yard touchdown run on the way to a 28-17 lead. But Michigan would come back as Mike Hart took over with touchdown runs from four and 54 yards out. A missed two-point conversion, and a failed field goal attempt, left the door open, and ASU kicked it in with a 69-yard drive in seven plays finished up by a 24-yard Julian Rauch field goal. Michigan got within field goal range on a 46-yard completion to Mario Manningham, but Lynch came through with the blocked kick to pull off the upset.
Player of the game: Appalachian State QB Armanti Edwards completed 17 of 23 passes for 227 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions and ran 17 times for 62 yards and a score.
Stat Leaders: Appalachian State - Passing: Armanti Edwards, 17-23, 227 yds, 3 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Kevin Richardson, 24-88. Receiving: CoCo Hillary, 4-63
Michigan - Passing: Chad Henne, 19-37, 233 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Mike Hart, 23-188, 3 TD. Receiving: Greg Mathews, 7-68, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Obviously the loss to Appalachian State was an all-timer, and it's the type of defeat that might be next to impossible to recover from, but Michigan has to regroup and realize the season isn't over. To get on track and be in the hunt for a possible Big Ten title and BCS berth, the defense has to start tackling better, the passing game has to start clicking better, and there has to be more, far more, from all the stars. Mike Hart came up with a huge second half, but Chad Henne was average and Mario Manningham was non-existent until his big catch at the end (which should've been called offensive pass interference). A strong performance against Oregon next week won't erase this loss, but if the defense starts coming up with some big plays and shows it can stop the short to midrange pass, which it couldn't do against ASU, this will be a long year.

Sept. 1 – Appalachian State

Sept. 8 - Oregon
Offense: As usual, Oregon gobbled up a ton of yards in 2006, but lacked efficiency most of the year and imploded under the weight of its turnovers in the second half of the season.  So when offensive coordinator Gary Crowton left for LSU, Mike Bellotti turned to New Hampshire's Chip Kelly to get the offense back on course.  A spread offense guru, Kelly will have a few new bells and whistles in his toolbox, including greater use of the no-huddle and increased reliance on superstar back Jonathan Stewart.  The key for the offense, and probably the entire team, will be the development of senior quarterback Dennis Dixon, who became the poster boy for the Ducks' collapse late last year.  He'll get adequate protection from Max Unger and the boys up front, but needs more consistency from a receiving corps that misplayed too many balls in 2006. 
Defense: Defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti isn't shy about bringing pressure with his wave of good athletes, and now has a couple of quality corners to marginalize the risk of selling out.  Jairus Byrd and Walter Thurmond, Freshman All-Americans in 2006, join standout rover Patrick Chung to give the Ducks their feistiest secondary in years.  The front seven, however, is far less stable.  After finishing ninth in the Pac-10 in run defense, Oregon needs to shore up the middle of its defense and develop an end or two that can consistently create pressure.  Redshirt freshman Brandon Bair is one possibility that has the staff cautiously excited about the defensive end spot.  In a league filled with strong-armed hurlers, that promising secondary will pay the price if opposing passers are given too much time to throw.

Sept. 15 - Notre Dame
Offense: Yeah, Charlie Weis is a great offensive coach, but there's some serious rebuilding needing to be done. There are good prospects, but there are several major concerns and no proven production. Can the line be better despite losing three starters? Will the skill players be remotely close to as good as the Brady Quinn, Jeff Samardzija, Rhema McKnight and Darius Walker foursome of last year? Are the quarterbacks ready? The quarterbacks appear to be fine, the running backs will be solid in a combination, and the receivers are fast and decent. The line will be a plus by the end of the year, but it'll be a problem early on.
Defense: Charlie Weis is trying to improve a defense that was fine against the mediocre, but lousy when it came to stopping the better offenses. Gone is defensive coordinator Rick Minter, and in comes Corwin Brown, who installed a 3-4 scheme to try to generate more big plays and get more speed and athleticism on the field. The line will be the issue early on as two steady starters are needed to help out Trevor Laws. Maurice Crum leads a promising linebacking corps that should shine in the new defense. The big problem could again be the secondary. It has experience, but it won't get as much help from the pass rush, like it did last year, and needs the young corner prospects to push the unspectacular veterans for time.

Sept. 22 - Penn State
Offense: Known for being button-down conservative, now it's time for Penn State to open the offense up. At least, that's what it has to do to play to the team's strengths. The receiving corps has the potential to be the best in the league with three great targets in Deon Butler, Derrick Williams and Jordan Norwood, and an all-star-to-be in tight end Andrew Quarless. If senior quarterback Anthony Morelli is consistent and gets the ball to his speedy receivers deep, the passing game will be fantastic. The line, despite the loss of Levi Brown, will be excellent with the expected emergence of tackles Dennis Landolt and Gerald Cadogan, but the real question mark will be running back Austin Scott. The one time star recruit Austin Scott has to finally show he can be the workhorse for the running game. If not. it'll be throw, throw and throw some more.
Defense: As always, the defense will revolve around the linebackers. Paul Posluszny might be gone, but Dan Connor, who'll take over in the middle, could turn into a better all-around playmaker, and Sean Lee will be an All-Big Ten performer. The line doesn't have much experience with only one starter returning, but there's plenty of promise on the inside in beefy tackles Phil Taylor and Abe Koroma. The secondary will be stellar if Anthony Scirrotto gets past his off-the-field legal troubles. If not, corner Justin King and safety Tony Davis, who moves over from corner, will keep the pass defense from sliding after a good 2006.

Sept. 29 – at Northwestern

Offense: After a year of trying to get the quarterback situation straight, mostly due to an injury to C.J. Bacher early on, the offense should start to shine as long as there aren't major injury problems up front. The line, with four good starters returning led by center Trevor Rees and tackle Dylan Thiry, will be one of the most effective in the Big Ten, but the developed depth isn't quite there yet. Tyrell Sutton will once again be one of the nation's best all-around backs and should be a lock for 1,000 yards for the third straight season. The big improvement should be in the passing game, as long as Bacher is healthy, with an interesting and promising group of receivers ready to emerge.
Defense: Even though there wasn't much in the way of a pass rush, there weren't any plays in the backfield, and the run defense struggled, the defense made major strides after a disastrous 2005. Now this should be one of the better Wildcat defenses in years with a big, talented front four that should start generating some sort of consistent pressure. Adam Kadela leads a decent linebacking corps, while the safety tandem of Brendan Smith and Reggie McPherson should be rock-solid. This isn't a fast defense and it's thin in key areas like free safety and tackle, but there's enough all-around talent to keep the mediocre offenses under wraps.

Oct. 6 - Eastern Michigan
Offense: EMU's defense hasn't been productive in years, but if there's not a major improvement this year with ten starters returning along with a slew of experienced depth, it might never happen. Junior Daniel Holtzclaw is a superstar middle linebacker who'll be the one the rest of the defense revolves around. Tackles Jason Jones and Josh Hunt can't stop the run, but they're regulars in opposing backfields. As long as the corners and ends start to produce, and the experience and quickness at all spots makes up for a general lack of size, things should be better after finishing 116th in the nation against run and 98th in total defense.
Defense: New offensive coordinator Scott Ispohording has his work cut out for him despite getting seven starters back along with a ton of experienced depth. The supposed wide-open offense was awful with no ground game from the running backs and even less of a passing attack with quarterbacks Andy Schmitt and Tyler Jones basically running, running and running some more. The line should be better with three returning starters and a decent interior, but the offense won't go anywhere unless Pierre Walker, or possible Jones, turns into a reliable tailback. The loss of top receiver Eric Deslauriers means the passing game will be spread out among several options with the hope for former quarterback Dontayo Gage to turn into a true number one.

Oct. 13 - Purdue
The Purdue offense was like a big budge action movie with a ton of fireworks and explosions, but had a plot that goes nowhere. It cranked out yards in bunches but did absolutely nothing against the big boys scoring three points against Wisconsin, seven against Maryland, 17 against Iowa, and was shut out by Penn State. It'll be in the top ten in the nation in yards again with Curtis Painter getting a jaw-dropping good receiving corps to work with led by the amazing Dorien Bryant in the slot. The 1-2 rushing punch of Jaycen Taylor and Kory Sheets is the best yet in the Joe Tiller era, while the right side of the line, Sean Sester at tackle and Jordan Grimes at guard, along with center Robbie Powell, will be dominant. The left side of the line is a concern and there's no developed depth anywhere, but the starting 11 should move the ball at will.
Defense: The Boilermakers haven't played defense for two years, and now the hope is for experience to turn into production with nine starters returning. Stopping the run will be priority one after finishing last in the Big Ten allowing 191 yards per game. The porous secondary should be better with all the young, inexperienced prospects of last year ready to shine as veterans. Overall, the pillow-soft D needs to find a nasty streak and start to play far tougher.

Oct. 20 – at Illinois
Offense: Has there ever been so much of a buzz for an offense that's done absolutely nothing? Juice Williams led the way to the nation's most inefficient passing attack, the O struggled to average 20 points a game, and never, ever came up with a clutch play. Chalk it up to youth, but this year's offense is still insanely young, and getting younger with the best receiver, Arrelious Bean, a true freshman. Even so, all will be fine as long as the starting 11 stays healthy. If injuries strike, things will go in the tank with no one to rely on behind Williams, no solid number two running back behind home-run hitter Rashard Mendenhall, and little developed depth behind an average line with four starters returning.
Defense: The defense never got any credit for a not-that-bad season. It was good at not giving up long drives or tons of yards, but it never, ever, ever came through with a key stop. How strange was the Illini D? It was 33rd in the nation allowing 310 yards per game, but allowed 26.75 points per game. This was going to be a good defense returning with J Leman tackling everything in sight at middle linebacker and Chris Norwell staring at tackle, and now there's actual talent to get excited about with the addition of mega-star recruits D'Angelo McCray on the line and Martez Wilson at linebacker. It'll be an interesting mix of good senior veterans and more talented underclassmen.

Oct. 27 - Minnesota
Offense: New offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar and his spread offense might seem like a radical departure for the Gophers, but the pieces are there, for the most part, for the thing to work right away with small, athletic linemen, quick running backs, and big receivers. The one thing missing is a steady quarterback who can hit the open receiver on a regular basis, meaning the Tony Mortensen vs. Adam Weber battle will go on until fall. Basically, the offense will undergo a change to achieve the same rushing results with a less effective passing game.
Defense: What the Gophers lack in talent they'll try to make up for in intensity and experience. For good and bad, ten starters return along with loads of experienced reserves to give hope for a big jump in overall production after finishing 113th in the nation in defense. However, there was a method to the old coaching staff's madness as the D allowed yards, but went for the big play forcing 32 turnovers. The new regime will be far more aggressive and take far more chances; they can do that with a veteran group like this. The linebacking corps will be the strength, while Willie VanDeSteeg and the line should get into the backfield more often. Can the Gophers shut down a power running attack or a high-octane passing game? No and no, but it'll be better in all phases.

Nov. 3 – at Michigan State
Offense: In keeping with the overall belief system of the new coaching staff, the offense will try to become more physical and should play to the strength, which will be running the ball. The line is big, and now has to start hitting to open things up for the speedy duo of Javon Ringer and A.J. Jimmerson and the pounding Jehuu Caulcrick. All eyes will be on Brian Hoyer, who might not be Drew Stanton talent-wise, but should be a more consistent quarterback as long as the receiving corps, which loses the top three targets, becomes productive right away.
Defense: The aggressive, attacking approach didn't work under the old regime, and now the new coaching staff will want to play it a bit closer to the vest to start, and then will start to make big plays as everyone figures out their roles. There won't be too many bells and whistles in the basic 4-3, but some chances will need to be taken, and head coach Mark Dantonio is great at adjusting and forcing teams out of their gameplans, after not doing much to generate any pressure in the backfield last year. A pass rusher has to emerge, but the overall potential is there to be better with Otis Wiley and Nehemiah Warrick good safeties to build around, while the linebackers should be one of the team's biggest strengths. The line is the key after a few awful years of doing a lot of nothing.

Nov. 10 – at Wisconsin
Offense: The offense wasn't always pretty, but it produced. Now it welcomes back nine starters, led by power runner P.J. Hill working behind a deep and talented offensive line. The receiving corps is loaded with deep threats with Paul Hubbard, Luke Swan, and top pass-catching tight end Travis Beckum returning. It's all there to have a huge season as long as the quarterback situation is settled. Tyler Donovan and Allan Evridge are each good enough to start, but one has to break free and take the job by the horns. While this is one of the deepest Badger offenses in a long time, most of the top reserves are untested. That isn't going to be an issue for the line or the backfield, but it could be a problem if injuries hit the receiving corps.
Defense: Seven starters return to the Big Ten's best defense that finished fifth in the country. The corners will be terrific with Jack Ikegwuonu and Allen Langford back on the nation's second best pass defense (and first in pass efficiency defense), but the safeties have to be replaced. Shane Carter is a future star at free safety, but strong safety is a question mark. The front seven might not have any sure-thing stars, but it'll be terrific as long as Elijah Hodge plays up to his potential in the middle. The overall depth is talented, even though it's young and relatively untested.

Nov. 17 - Ohio State
Offense: You don't get better after losing Ted Ginn, Anthony Gonzalez, Antonio Pittman, and, oh yeah, some quarterback who won a Heisman and owned Michigan. While many will predict doom and gloom, the offense might crank out close to as many yards as last year when it was 26th in the nation as long as Chris Wells holds up and becomes the running back everyone's expecting him to be, and new starting quarterback Todd Boeckman is merely above average. The receiving corps is talented, but untested, while there's plenty of reason to be excited about a line that'll field one of the best starting fives in the nation. Tackles Alex Boone and Kirk Barton and guard Steve Rehring will be first day draft picks. Welcome back to Tressel ball with more running and fewer shots taken down the field.
Defense: A question mark last year thanks to a ton of turnover, the defense reloaded and should be fantastic as long as the tackles and safeties shine and a second corner emerges on the other side of Malcolm Jenkins. There are stars to build around, with Jenkins, LB James Laurinaitis and end Vernon Gholston among the best in the country, while there are emerging stars, as always around OSU, in like linebackers Larry Grant and Ross Homan and end Lawrence Wilson. Don't expect too many bells and whistles; this D will beat teams by simply being far more athletic.



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