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NCAA Football Big 10 FootballMichigan Wolverines

Michigan Football: Schedule Preview for 2014

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Michigan Football: 2014 Schedule Preview

Brady Hoke
Rick Osentoski - USA Today Sports

There have been moments under Brady Hoke where the team resembled the old successful Wolverines program, but there have also been times where it seemed they lacked the toughness and ability to win eight games let alone contend for conference championships. 2014 is an opportunity for the team to show critics that Michigan is relevant and will be for years to come.

Aug. 30 vs. Appalachian St.

Appalachian St
Dale Zanine - USA Today Sports

Aug. 30 vs. Appalachian St.

Appalachian St.
Dale Zanine - USA Today Sports

Fans everywhere will keep a close eye on this game to see if the Mountaineers can pull off another upset. Unlike in 2007 where players and coaches admitted they overlooked ASU, there is no one in Ann Arbor who should be saying that in 2014. QB Kameron Bryant and RB Marcus Cox are players the Wolverines will have to contend with on defense, but with only five defensive starters returning no one will stop the U-M offense but themselves.

Sept. 6 at Notre Dame

Everette Golson
Matt Cashore -USA Today Sports

Sept. 6 at Notre Dame

Everette Golson
Matt Cashore - USA Today Sports

The return of QB Everette Golson will give the Fighting Irish a boost to an offense that only returns four starters. The only question becomes how will he perform after missing the entire 2013 season. The Irish defense will have a new look as well, but because of great recruiting the new starters could be more talented. Playing the final game of this rivalry (for some time) in South Bend gives Notre Dame the slight advantage.

Sept. 13 vs. Miami (OH)

Miami Redhawks
Bradley Leeb - USA Today Sports

Sept. 13 vs. Miami (OH)

Miami Redhawks
Bradley Leeb - USA Today Sports

After struggling against Akron and UConn last season, no game is a gimme for the Wolverines. Similar to the game against App St., facing the overmatched Miami (OH) team is an opportunity for the Wolverines to show that are capable of dominating the teams they are supposed to, which will give the players confidence heading into games against better competition. New coach Chuck Martin will find success with the Redhawks, just not in this game.

Sept. 20 vs. Utah

Utah Utes
Scott Olmos - USA Today Sports

Sept. 20 vs. Utah

Utah Utes
Scott Olmos -USA Today Sports

Another rematch with a team that recently upset the Wolverines, the Utes head to Ann Arbor looking to steal another victory. Last season they proved the ability to upset very good teams when they defeated Stanford, but with only five starters returning, including only one on the defensive line, Michigan's desire to run the ball more efficiently could overpower a Utes team that is still looking to find traction in the PAC-12.

Sept. 27 vs. Minnesota

Minnesota Golden Gophers
Troy Taormina - USA Today Sports

Sept. 27 vs. Minnesota

Minnesota Golden Gophers
Troy Taormina - USA Today Sports

Despite losing last season's game 42-13, QB Mitch Leidner gave the Wolverines fits as he only had seven incomplete passes in 21 attempts and also ran for 66 yards. If he is able to utilize a downfield passing game, which will limit Michigan's blitzing, the Gophers could make this an interesting game. The defense is led by upperclassmen and could slow down the Wolverines if they get help from their offense.

Oct. 4 at Rutgers

Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Jim O'Connor - USA Today Sports

Oct. 4 at Rutgers

Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Jim O'Connor - USA Today Sports

Rutgers is a program that had its struggles in the American Athletic Conference and now they are a part of the Big 10 where those putrid statistical rankings are sure to be exposed more. While Devin Gardner has had his struggles as a passer, even he should be able to take advantage of the 120th ranked pass defense, and with a team that struggles to run the ball (100th nationally), Michigan's defense should be on attack mode.

Oct. 11 vs. Penn State

Penn State
Matthew Oharen - USA Today Sports

Oct. 11 vs. Penn State

Penn State
Matthew Oharen - USA Today Sports

Christian Hackenberg proved that he was not your typical freshman quarterback as he passed for 305 yards in the 4OT victory last season. Unfortunately for Nittany Lions fans, he could be in for a sophomore slump as only three other offensive starters return. Depth issues will cause the program to feel the effects of the NCAA sanctions this season, and a Michigan offense led by the revitalized play-calling of Doug Nussmeier must take advantage.

Oct. 25 at Michigan St.

Michigan State
Robert Hanashiro - USA Today Sports

Oct. 25 at Michigan St.

Michigan State
Robert Hanashiro - USA Today Sports

Who is the real little brother? Despite Mike Hart giving the Spartans the nickname it seems as if the Wolverines have been playing the role more recently. Even in the 2012 victory, MSU was able to force Michigan to play its style of game. And for a Spartan team that was often led by its defense to now be developing a dangerous offense, MSU could reign in the state for a very long time.

Nov. 1 vs. Indiana

Nate Sudfeld
Trevor Ruszkowski - USA Today Sports

Nov. 1 vs. Indiana

Nate Sudfeld
Trevor Ruszkowski - USA Today Sports

The 2013 game was a shootout with not much defense played, and Hoosiers head coach Kevin Wilson hopes that it will be that way again in 2014. The Wolverines this time will only have to focus on one quarterback, as with the transfer of Tre Roberson, U-M faces the pocket-passer Nate Sudfeld, who they held in check. The Hoosier defense returns nine starters but has yet to prove they can stop anyone. Will it change in 2014?

Nov. 8 at Northwestern

Northwestern Wildcats
Bradley Leeb - USA Today Sports

Nov. 8 at Northwestern

Northwestern Wildcats
Bradley Leeb - USA Today Sports

Northwestern loses its mobile quarterback in Cain Colter but could be a better program under Trevor Siemian, as nine starters return after a year of great expectations in Evanston. If the defense is able to take on the mold of its coach Pat Fitzgerald and runner Venric Mark returns to his 2012 form, the Wildcats could give the Wolverines fits.

Nov. 22 vs. Maryland

Maryland Terrapins
Bob Donnan - USA Today Sports

Nov. 22 vs. Maryland

Maryland Terrapins
Bob Donnan - USA Today Sports

As the other newcomer to the conference, the Terrapins bring stronger football tradition than Rutgers. Even with the 2014 roster they have more talent, highlighted by star receivers Stefon Diggs and Nigel King. The defense has the players, but are they Big 10 caliber? By this stage in the season coach Randy Edsell will know, and they could provide stiff competition for the Wolverines if they are looking ahead to the game against OSU.

Nov. 29 at Ohio St.

Braxton Miller
Trevor Ruszkowski - USA Today Sports

Nov. 29 at Ohio St.

Braxton Miller
Trevor Ruszkowski - USA Today Sports

Last season's 42-41 thriller proved that Michigan has the talent to compete with Ohio St. and if they were to pull off an upset, despite playing in Columbus, this is the year as the Buckeyes have questions on the offensive line and will have to rely on a stable of runners instead of Carlos Hyde. If the Michigan defense can contain Braxton Miller, the Wolverines could spoil OSU's championship dreams.