(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.
Appalachian St. (Sept. 1), L 32-34: Imagine opening the door to your dorm room and someone just punching you in the face. That's what transpired at the Big House. So much for a National Championship.
Oregon (Sept. 8): For everyone who prefers nonconference tests as opposed to guaranteed wins, be careful what you wish for. The Ducks squeaked past Michigan in 2003, 31-27, and the Wolverines have beaten a Pac-10 foe just once since the 1997 title game.
Iowa at Wisconsin
Sept. 22, 8PM on ABC
This matchup will be the first big test for the Hawkeyes when they open the Big Ten season at Camp Randall. If Iowa is serious about a Big Ten Championship, it has to pull this one out.
Ohio State At Penn State
Oct. 27, 8PM
Joe Paterno said the Nittany Lions have a good, but not great team at Big Ten Media Day. Good teams can play the spoiler for perennial Big Ten powerhouse Buckeyes, especially at home.
Ohio State at Wisconsin
Nov. 3, TBA
BY DANIEL BROMWICH
The Michigan football team lost last weekend, and for some reason, this campus is making a big deal about it.
I understand the national media is claiming this is the biggest upset in the history of upsets, and that's fine, and yes, it's mortifying and the team and coaching staff should be embarrassed, but why is every Michigan student talking like the season is over?
So the Wolverines lost a game, they lost it to a Football Championship Subdivision team and it happened in a year when they expected to contend for the national title.
In the past, we've had celebrities such as the Sklar brothers, Jim Brandstatter and Marlin Jackson make their weekly predictions for our staff picks. Then again, we've also been reduced to flipping quarters, throwing frozen turkeys and even calling an 83-year-old North Dakota woman named Rose Bohl.
So rather than risk it this year, we'd like to let you - yes, you - take a chance at beating us, the self-proclaimed experts. Starting this week, we'll pick one student at random to make staff picks.
(11-1, 2nd in Big Ten)
Key returnees: RB P.J. Hill, CB Jack Ikegwuonu, TE Travis Beckum
Player to watch: QB Tyler Donovan. The fifth-year senior carries a program's national title hopes on his shoulders.
Reason for optimism: Wisconsin will probably have the best defense in the conference this season, and maybe a top-five defense nationally. The defensive line, linebackers and secondary are all strong units, all with returning contributors.