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Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Early schedule snapshot: Michigan

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Michigan finalized its 2009 schedule last week with the addition of Delaware State. Here's a look at what the Wolverines face this fall. 

NONCONFERENCE SCHEDULE

Sept. 5 Western Michigan

Sept. 12 Notre Dame

Sept. 19 Eastern Michigan

Oct. 17 Delaware State

My take: Not to dwell on the obvious, but this isn't the most challenging slate. Michigan faces two MAC teams, a middling FCS squad and Notre Dame, which could enter the season in the Top 25 but hasn't been able to run the ball since 2006. Though the group might not excite Michigan fans, it provides a team still transitioning to a new regime the opportunity to gain some confidence. Western Michigan beat Illinois last year and should provide a good test in Week 1. If Michigan wins its first season opener since 2006 and knocks off Notre Dame the following week, it should be in good shape for a bowl game. Given the question marks that remain after a 3-9 season, the Wolverines should benefit from this type of schedule.

BIG TEN SCHEDULE

Sept. 26 Indiana

Oct. 3 at Michigan State

Oct. 10 at Iowa

Oct. 24 Penn State

Oct. 31 at Illinois

Nov. 7 Purdue

Nov. 14 at Wisconsin

Nov. 21 Ohio State

Byes: Northwestern, Minnesota

My take: Michigan must defend the Big House this season, both in nonconference play and during the Big Ten slate. Indiana and Purdue both are must-wins for the Wolverines, who will have a rough time with defending Big Ten co-champs Ohio State and Penn State. The road schedule isn't easy, but Michigan has won nine consecutive games at Illinois (last loss came in 1983) and three straight at in-state rival Michigan State. October won't be easy, but if the Wolverines pull out a win or two, they should be in position for a bowl game.