Michigan's schedule is slightly more difficult this year. The Wolverines have the 32nd toughest schedule according to the CFU strength of schedule rankings and are ranked at 26 for opponent win-loss percent, but Phil Steele has their schedule rated fourth which also takes into account home and away games. They have to play Alabama, Notre Dame, Nebraska, and Ohio State away from home. But they do play Michigan State in the Big House this year which was one of the two teams that defeated them last season.
The experienced players and new talent should be able to handle the more difficult season to at least replicate a similar one as last. They return 16 starters and plugged in well with recruiting. There have been back to back solid recruiting classes for Michigan including the rated seven class for 2012 according to Yahoo Rivals. The Wolverines recruited highly rated five star offensive lineman Kyle Kalis and five star defensive tackle Ondre Pipkins to fill needed vacancies.
Dual threat quarterback Denard Robinson (3,349 total yards & 36 total TDs) returns along with running back Fitzgerald Touissaint (1,041 rush yards) . Some naysayers doubt Robinson's ability especially as a passer, but his exceptional speed and running capability makes him an instant weapon on the field. At times, he throws good, but does seem to get out of sorts when there is too much on his plate to handle. However in order to win, the team needs to continue with their strong running game and top notch defense which ranked sixth in points allowed per game in 2011. The Michigan defense may be the best since 2006 including the well recruited new talent along with experienced linebackers and secondary led by senior safety Jordan Kovacs.
With Michigan's schedule, a couple of big wins could vault them into the national championship discussion, but if a couple trip ups do happen, a double digit win season is still a reasonable expectation along with a chance at either the Rose Bowl or another BCS Bowl. "Experts" should not discount the Wolverines just because of their schedule. Look at LSU in 2011, they played eight ranked teams before their berth in the BCS championship game. Michigan's schedule is no pansy either, but it is not the gauntlet that the Tigers had to endure.
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