(5-7, 7th in Big Ten)
Key returners: QB Kellen Lewis, CB Tracy Porter
Player to watch: James Hardy. The wide receiver will be the key to stretching the field and giving Indiana an aerial weapon.
Reason for optimism: Lewis, running back Marcus Thigpen and wide receiver James Hardy form an offensive core that could be tough to stop.
Michigan State Spartans
(4-8, T-9th in the Big Ten)
Key returnees: RB Javon Ringer, LB SirDarean Adams
Player to watch: Ringer. First-year coach Mark Dantonio uses a conservative offensive gameplan relying on a strong running game. Ringer wasn't happy with his inconsistent touches last season, and he'll have his chance to shine under Dantonio.
Reason for optimism: Dantonio is a straight shooter. Spartan fans won't have to sit through monumental collapses and face slaps of the John L. Smith teams.
(4-8, 8th in Big Ten)
Key returnees: RB Tyrell Sutton, S Reggie McPherson
Player to watch: C.J. Bacher. The junior signal caller will have to step up higher than the tune of the six touchdowns and eight interceptions he threw last season. Sutton needs Bacher to stretch the field.
Reason for optimism: Coach Pat Fitzpatrick brought the fire he played with on the field to the sideline, and his squad has bought into the message. Northwestern will play hard.
Minnesota Golden Gophers
(6-7, 6th in Big Ten)
Key returnees: RB Amir Pinnix, S Dominique Barber
Player to watch: Junior punter Justin Kucek. He'll be on the field a lot, and field position may be the one battle the Golden Gophers could win.
Reason for optimism: Only two more years until TCF Bank Stadium opens.
Reason for pessimism: Coach Tim Brewster's a Big Ten guy, but his team's not a Big Ten team. The talent level is equivalent to a Mid American Conference squad.
BY SCOTT BELL
After three seasons of coming up short, Mike Hart, Chad Henne and Jake Long were supposed to redeem the class of '08. But three years of anticipation led up to one major disappointment. Now Michigan's top leaders must look ahead.
The storybook ending wasn't supposed to come 12 chapters early - and the celebration wasn't supposed to be in the visitors' locker room.
A trio of players that put its childhood dream of playing in the NFL on hold for a year wasn't supposed to be immediately punished for it.
Even in last weekend's loss, Hart was incredible, tallying 188 yards in just more than two quarters of work and crossing the goal line three times.
Widely acknowledged as the best shut-down cornerback in America, Ikegwuonu's can completely close down one side of the field.
To view a larger version of the Daily staff pics click here.
BY KEVIN WRIGHT
Put aside the different subdivisions and throw out preseason rankings.
It came down to execution.
Plain and simple, Appalachian State's 34-32 upset win over No. 5 Michigan in Saturday's home opener, a feat labeled as the greatest upset in college football history, was decided on the field.
"They just outplayed us," Michigan tight end Mike Massey said. "They executed better than we did, and we had a lot of penalties that hurt us too."
Appalachian State wide receiver Dexter Jackson brought reality home for the Michigan faithful with his post-game comments.
BY SCOTT BELL
Pinch yourself - just not too hard. As bad as you may feel right now, suicide isn't the answer. This past weekend really happened, and I think some people still haven't let it sink in yet. But the first step to moving on is acceptance.
So what's the easiest way to move on? Find someone else to blame, of course. It's the American way.
BY SCOTT BELL
As Appalachian State coach Jerry Moore celebrated near midfield Saturday, one of his media relations staffers had a message for him:
"We've got a lot to do."
But for as many interviews as Moore and his Mountaineers will be doing in the next week, the call to action might make more sense to the Michigan coaches.
They've got a lot to do.
And not the fun kind of stuff Appalachian State will be doing.