We’ve taken our rounds predicting who the Michigan Wolverines‘ MVP will be this 2014 season; we’ve jabbed in the dark trying to predict Michigan’s regular season record. Now it’s time to see what the TBHR staff thinks about the Wolverines’ chances against rivals Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State this season.
All three of these games are on the road, and Michigan either looks equal to or lesser than each opponent. In simpler terms, it’s going to be an uphill battle. Brady Hoke is 4-5 against Michigan’s biggest rivals since arriving in Ann Arbor, but he’s failed to beat Michigan State and Ohio State in the same season, and the Wolverines have posted a 1-2 record each of the last two seasons.
So the question I asked our terrific staff: How many rivalry games will Michigan win this season? As has been the custom, writers submit their vote with a confidence number and a chance to explain their decision.
Anthony Broome: none
Confidence Level: 5.5
I think on paper, Michigan does not stack up favorably against Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State and I have them losing all three of their rivalry games. If there is one they can get, it’ll be in South Bend. The Wolverines have fared well down there in the past. With all of this being said, it’s impossible to make a prediction until we see how all three teams perform on the field. Games are not played on paper. Michigan will give these teams a battle, but they will be tough to pull out.
Derek Devine: 2 (Notre Dame, Michigan State)
Confidence Level: 7
Last week I predicted that Michigan will finish the regular season 9-3, with losses to Rutgers, Indiana and Ohio State. A bold prediction, but it does imply that I believe Michigan can and will beat both Notre Dame and Michigan State on the road. I understand if you are questioning my mental state, but let me briefly tell you why Michigan finishes 2-1 against its rivals. Surprisingly, the last time Michigan topped both Notre Dame and Michigan State in the same season was in 2007 — Lloyd Carr’s last year at the helm. It happens again this year because Brady Hoke will have his boys ready to play, and his job security will be in the back of his mind. I think Notre Dame and Michigan State will have great squads this season, but I also find them very beatable. Unfortunately, I believe “Ohio” will be too much for the Wolverines for a third year in a row.If Hoke does in fact beat two rivals, I think he will be invited back to Ann Arbor next season. If not, well… you know.
David Mormino: 1 (Notre Dame)
Confidence Level: 8
The Michigan Wolverines have their hands full this year, especially on the road, and I do see this team winning one of the three road rivalry games. I believe that they will travel to South Bend and beat Notre Dame in possibly their last meeting ever. The games in recent memory have all been games that kept fans on the edge of their seats, and I expect nothing different this time around. Everett Golson is back under center for the Irish, so that adds another wrinkle to the game, but I do see them beating Notre Dame. Ohio State and Michigan State are games that worry me, especially now that BOTH are on the road.
Tyler Fenwick: 1 (Notre Dame)
Confidence Level: 7
What a tough draw for Michigan this season. For how important these three particular games are in 2014, it’s unfortunate the Wolverines have to travel for each one. I think it’s awesome that Brady Hoke is saying playing in East Lansing twice in a row isn’t a big deal, but the fact of the matter is it’s a HUGE deal. It’s hard to imagine Michigan finishing this season with a winning record against rivals, but I don’t believe that will necessarily be an accurate reflection of how well the team is doing.
Von Lozon: 1 (Notre Dame)
Confidence Level: 7.5
Facing all three of our rivals this season on the road is going to make playing them that much tougher. Typically, we always have one home game against a rival each year. Occasionally we will have two if we have Notre Dame at home, it’s never Michigan State and Ohio State at home during the same season. However, I do believe that we can beat the Irish on their home turf in our final game against them for probably years to come. Notre Dame has been incredibly average the past couple of years that we have played them, including the year that they went to the National Championship game. It is the easiest game to win out of these rival games. The other two definitely won’t be as simple of a task. Playing at Michigan State two years in a row is difficult. The team knows what to expect now, but they will still lose in a closer match as opposed to last year. As for Ohio State, playing in the Horseshoe is never an easy assignment for any team. Urban Meyer is one of the best coaches in all of college football and really knows how to tear teams apart at home. He has been doing so since his days at Florida. I truly believe, unfortunately, that Michigan will go into that game and get slaughtered.
Travis Devlin: none
Confidence Level: 5
This is what I believe is a make-or-break season for Brady Hoke. These rivalry games will play a huge role in not only the fans’ perspectives on the season, but also in job security of the coaching staff. Now, the Wolverines don’t necessarily have to win those games, but they have to be close, completive games, which leads me to my prediction. Unfortunately, I don’t believe the Wolverines will win a rivalry game this season. I have Michigan pegged with a record of 9-3, all three losses coming from Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State, respectively. My confidence number is five, which is pretty low. I went with that number because, for one, I really hope I’m wrong, but each one of these games are winnable games, just a lot more difficult games. If I had to choose which game the Wolverines will most likely pull out the win, it would be Notre Dame. Sadly, this is the final year (for now) of the storied rivalry, so I believe it adds incentive for the Wolverines to go out on top, most of all to try and back up that “chickening out” comment Hoke said a couple years ago. Plus, I do not believe they’re as talented as the other two teams, losing some beef on the defensive line with Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix, but getting Everett Golson back at quarterback for the Irish should play a vital role in their success this year. The game will be in the South Bend, so a home field advantage won’t help the Wolverines. With that said, I believe Michigan will have a good year of 9-3, but with losses in the three biggest games on the schedule shouldn’t bode well for anyone affiliated with the Michigan Wolverines football program.
Chad Finley: 2 (Notre Dame, Ohio State)
Confidence Level: 7
I believe Michigan can go 2-1 in its rivalry games this season. First up is Notre Dame, which I predict a win! The Irish have two new coordinators, a quarterback who did not play last year and holes to fill on both offensive and defensive lines. I think the Michigan defense will put too much pressure on the Irish and get a victory in South Bend. Next up is Michigan State, which I am predicting a loss. Coach Mark Dantonio has done a good job always preparing his team to play hard against the Wolverines. The Spartan defense might be too much for Michigans’ questionable offensive line. If Michigan can match State’s toughness and intensity, it will be a great, close game. Ending the season down in Columbus, Ohio should be an exciting way to finish, especially with a win! Yes, I said the Wolverines will beat the Buckeyes on their home turf. The Buckeyes have a lot of holes to fill on both sides of the ball, including four offensive linemen, a leading rusher, middle linebacker and two in the secondary. After last year’s tough loss, I think the Wolverines will be extra hungry for this rivalry win.
What do you think? Vote in our poll or sound off in the comments below!