Wolverines' early hopes are a distant memory

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 1, 2012 - 11:21 PM

There had been talk of a big season -- even talk of a national title.

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To reach the Big Ten title game, coach Brady Hoke’s Wolverines need to finish their remaining four games with one more victory than Nebraska, which would win a tiebreaker.

Photo: Carlos Osorio, Associated Press file

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Things haven't been as smooth for Michigan football as many had predicted before the season began.

With the team sitting at 5-3 heading into Saturday's game against the Gophers at TCF Bank Stadium, the early national championship hopes seem distant.

After last week's loss to Nebraska -- the second consecutive game in which Michigan failed to score a touchdown -- the Wolverines are in a tie with the Cornhuskers atop the Leaders Division and no longer in control of their Big Ten title game destiny.

So, given the circumstances, does a coach have to try to regroup his squad, alter the expectations, change the perception of the team?

"No, I don't think so," coach Brady Hoke said. "We always have expectations to win Big Ten championships. We have expectations to improve every week we get on the field and to play better and play 60 minutes of football in the Michigan way.

"I think we've done some of that, and I think we've improved in certain areas, but at the same time, we've got a long way to go to be the football team we want to be."

In order to be that -- and have a shot at the conference title -- the Wolverines need to finish their remaining four games with one more victory than Nebraska, which would win a tiebreaker.

There's a chance Michigan could make that happen since Nebraska's remaining slate looks more challenging, but each game is critical for the Wolverines.

That was the expectation going into the season, albeit in a different way. Talk of a big season -- even a national title -- dominated preseason discussions after a trip to the Sugar Bowl last year appeared to be a stepping stone. But the Wolverines' season became a question mark after an early rout by Alabama and a loss to Notre Dame made them look less intimidating.

"I'm playing football to win a Big Ten championship," left tackle Taylor Lewan told the Detroit Free Press. "This week it's Minnesota. ... I want to win the [Little Brown Jug], keep it at Michigan, but I'm focused on the Big Ten championship."

To complicate matters, star quarterback Denard Robinson injured a nerve in his throwing arm last week and had to come out of the game after struggling to grip the ball. As a result, the offense collapsed in the second half and the team limped to a 23-9 loss.

Hoke said he expects Robinson to play at Minnesota -- he's got quarterback-turned-receiver Devin Gardner taking snaps during the week just in case -- but there will be more pressure than ever on the multi-faceted Robinson to carry this team.

The senior was dubbed a Heisman Trophy candidate before the season, but while he has been solid -- and the focal point of the offense -- Robinson has had his hiccups along with the rest of the team. Against Notre Dame, Robinson's passer rating dipped to 69.1, and he has failed to complete at least 55 percent of his passes four times.

"I think he's played well," Hoke said. "There's been a rough stop in there at Notre Dame, but other than that, he's ran our offense and he's done a great job running our offense. You look at his first half the other day and we were playing pretty well offensively."

Michigan lost that game. But for the remainder of the schedule, the Wolverines can't afford to look good and lose. Not if they want to keep the expectations they say still apply.

"They've got a good offensive philosophy, they do a good job of using their personnel and they do a great with Denard," Gophers coach Jerry Kill said. "We've got our work cut out for us, there's no question about that, and we'll have to play a very, very good game to stay in it."

  • GOPHERS VS. MICHIGAN

    11 a.m. Saturday • TCF Bank Stadium • TV: BTN (100.3-FM, 1130-AM)

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Minnesota 16 FINAL
Buffalo 17
Atlanta 7 FINAL
Baltimore 29
Tennessee 17 FINAL
Washington 19
Seattle 26 FINAL
St. Louis 28
Cleveland 6 FINAL
Jacksonville 24
Cincinnati 0 FINAL
Indianapolis 27
Miami 27 FINAL
Chicago 14
New Orleans 23 FINAL
Detroit 24
Carolina 17 FINAL
Green Bay 38
Kansas City 23 FINAL
San Diego 20
Arizona 24 FINAL
Oakland 13
NY Giants 21 FINAL
Dallas 31
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Denver 42
Houston 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Boston 95 FINAL
Brooklyn 90
Minnesota 112 FINAL
Oklahoma City 94
Golden State 83 FINAL
Houston 90
Charlotte 96 FINAL
Chicago 101
Utah 91 FINAL
LA Lakers 98
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
San Jose 0 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Calgary 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 1
St. Louis 0 FINAL
Anaheim 3
TX-San Antonio 20 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 27
Syracuse 30 FINAL
Wake Forest 7
Purdue 38 FINAL
Minnesota 39
Western Ky 38 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 45
(12) Baylor 27 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 41
(11) Kansas State 31 FINAL
(17) Oklahoma 30
Iowa 31 FINAL
Maryland 38
So Florida 38 FINAL
Tulsa 30
Tulane 13 FINAL
UCF 20
Virginia 13 FINAL
Duke 20
Akron 20 FINAL
Ohio U 23
Western Mich 26 FINAL
Bowling Green 14
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
Massachusetts 36
Appalachian St 53 FINAL
Troy 14
(25) UCLA 36 FINAL
California 34
Texas A&M 0 FINAL
(4) Alabama 59
Army 17 FINAL
Kent State 39
Kansas 21 FINAL
Texas Tech 34
UAB 22 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 34
Rutgers 17 FINAL
(13) Ohio State 56
(8) Michigan State 56 FINAL
Indiana 17
New Mexico 31 FINAL
Air Force 35
NC State 18 FINAL
Louisville 30
(21) Clemson 17 FINAL
Boston College 13
Ball State 32 FINAL
Central Mich 29
Cincinnati 41 FINAL
SMU 3
(9) Georgia 45 FINAL
Arkansas 32
Oklahoma State 9 FINAL
(10) TCU 42
San Jose St 27 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Miami-Ohio 41 FINAL
Northern Ill 51
New Mexico St 17 FINAL
Idaho 29
Colorado 28 FINAL
(20) USC 56
(23) Marshall 45 FINAL
FIU 13
Southern Miss 30 FINAL
North Texas 20
Georgia Tech 43 FINAL
North Carolina 48
Tennessee 3 FINAL
(3) Ole Miss 34
Utah State 13 FINAL
Colorado State 16
Missouri 42 FINAL
Florida 13
Kentucky 3 FINAL
(24) LSU 41
(16) Nebraska 38 FINAL
Northwestern 17
Georgia State 27 FINAL
South Alabama 30
Washington 20 FINAL
(6) Oregon 45
Iowa State 45 FINAL
Texas 48
(7) Notre Dame 27 FINAL
(2) Florida State 31
Nevada 42 FINAL
BYU 35
Stanford 10 FINAL
(14) Arizona State 26
Hawaii 10 FINAL
San Diego St 20
Arkansas State 10/21/14 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
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(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
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Missouri
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Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
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TX-San Antonio
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Colorado State
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(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
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(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
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Hamilton 16
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Toronto 12
Calgary 33 FINAL
Winnipeg 23
Edmonton 24 FINAL
Saskatchewan 19
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

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