Woody Division: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin
2010 Overall Record: 7-6
2010 Big Ten Record: 3-5
9/3: Western Michigan (6-6)
9/10: Notre Dame (8-5)
9/17: Eastern Michigan (2-10)
9/24: San Diego State (9-4)
10/8: @ Northwestern
10/15: @ Michigan State
11/5: @ Iowa
11/12: @ Illinois
11/26: Ohio State
Do Not Play
If You Only Watch One Michigan Game in 2011 (Other than The Game): First of all, how could you only watch one? What kind of Michigan fan are you? But for the sake of doing this the same for each B1G team...
Smart money would be the Notre Dame game on Sept 10. It's the first night game at Michigan Stadium, both Michigan and the Irish are programs that are on the rise, and this matchup is pretty much guaranteed to be a great game every time.
You could make the argument for Michigan State on Oct 15, or maybe even Nebraska on Nov 19. Both of those games would be great picks. But I am going to have to stick with Notre Dame. The hype for this game is already off the charts. It's going to be an amazing atmosphere and will likely deliver with a great game. The throwback jerseys will also add a bit of pomp and circumstance to the festivities. I mean, come on, this game already has it's own t-shirt and logo!
Non-Conference Loss: See the game referenced in the above question.
We already know that Notre Dame is one of the programs that is ascending quickly (at least we assume based on how they finished 2010). But, we're not sure about Michigan yet. We've had their number the last two years...both wins coming in dramatic fashion, so it's likely that if there is one non-conf game on the schedule that scares me, it's this one.
But I do have to mention that the game two weeks later against Brady Hoke's former squad San Diego State, is very compelling for obvious reasons.
It's a Trap!: Purdue on Oct 29. Much like Iowa's trap game, this Woody division game falls between 4 Bo division games. However, this game...the only home game during a 5 week stretch is Michigan's homecoming. Michigan will be coming off a big game in East Lansing (and then a bye week) and about to head out to another equally difficult game in Iowa City. That bye week could be a blessing for Michigan, and could also make this Purdue game less of a trap than it looks on paper.
The Game Destined for ESPN3.com: Eastern Michigan on Sept 17. Former Michigan DC Ron English brings his squad back to the Big House where he watched his them lose to Rich Rod 45-17 back in 2009.
Final Analysis: The previous two years have been a tale of two seasons. Two straight undefeated starts out of the gate against non-conference opponents have set Michigan up for at least a moderately successful year. But when the rubber met the road in the Big Ten portion of the schedule, Michigan struggled against superior talent. The measuring stick for this year's team is going to be the Michigan State game on Oct 15. Brady Hoke at least understands that coaches at Michigan are judged based on how well they do against their rivals. Circle that game on your schedule. I think how well we do in that game will go a long way in determining how successful Hoke will be in his first season as head coach.
It should also be noted that not playing Penn State or Wisconsin is a much-welcomed added bonus for 2011.
Non-conference record: 3-1
Division Record: 3-2
Crossover Record: 2-1