DETROIT – Last week, Local 4 established that Michigan football does not have an easy overall schedule. Road games against Michigan State, Iowa and Ohio State give Michigan one of the toughest second-half stretches in the country.
The home slate is a different story. Michigan plays eight games in the Big House this season, and it will likely be favored in all of them. Can the Wolverines go a perfect 8-0 in Ann Arbor?
It's been done before -- just five years ago. The Brady Hoke-led Wolverines of 2011 put together an 8-0 home record, highlighted by wins over Ohio State, Notre Dame and Nebraska.
In 2016, Michigan won't host teams as good as Ohio State or Notre Dame. There's not a single team ranked in the preseason top 25 coming to Ann Arbor. Here's a look at the teams that will visit.
Hawaii Rainbow Warriors
Game details: Sept. 3 @ noon
2015 record: 3-10
Upset formula: Michigan would have to come out with a major case of the Week 1 drags. Hawaii will be playing its second game of the season while Michigan breaks in a few freshmen who have never played in college game. Still, the Wolverines should bully Hawaii in the trenches enough to dominate the game.
Game details: Sept. 10 @ noon
2015 record: 0-12
Upset formula: There isn't one. UCF was one of the worst teams in the country last season, and Scott Frost is just getting his feet wet as a head coach. Michigan will cruise.
Game details: Sept. 17 @ 3:30 p.m.
2015 record: 4-8
Upset formula: Colorado is Michigan's toughest nonconference opponent, which really shows how weak the nonconference schedule is. The Buffaloes were a punching bag in the Pac-12 last season, so Michigan would have to be looking ahead to Penn State to give Colorado a chance.
Penn State Nittany Lions
Game details: Sept. 24 (time TBA)
2015 record: 7-6
Upset formula: If Michigan remembers dominating Penn State in Happy Valley last season and the Nittany Lions lose an early-season game to Temple or Pittsburgh, the Wolverines could take Penn State too lightly and start looking ahead to the Wisconsin matchup, allowing Saquon Barkley to run rampant all over the field.
Game details: Oct. 1 (time TBA)
2015 record: 10-3
Upset formula: Using the word upset for this game doesn't feel right, because Wisconsin will come into Ann Arbor with a group capable of beating any team in the conference. There's a great chance the Badgers will be just 2-2 coming into this game, so they'll be desperate to get their season turned around. If Michigan doesn't play its best game, October could start with a loss.
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Illinois Fighting Illini
Game details: Oct. 22 @ 3:30 p.m.
2015 record: 5-7
Upset formula: Illinois should be an improved team in 2016, especially with a solid veteran quarterback returning in Wes Lunt. Lunt would have to put in a heroic effort and Michigan would have to turn the ball over a few times to make this a game.
Game details: Nov. 5 (time TBA)
2015 record: 3-9
Upset formula: I don't see a scenario in which Maryland upsets Michigan in Ann Arbor, but maybe D.J. Durkin will pull a rabbit out of a hat and find a serviceable quarterback for the 2016 season. In 2015, the Terps completed fewer than half of their pass attempts and finished with 15 passing touchdowns and 29 interceptions.
Game details: Nov. 19 (time TBA)
2015 record: 6-7
Upset formula: Kevin Wilson has done an excellent job at Indiana. The Hoosiers are an offensive powerhouse and can regularly give some of the top teams in the Big Ten a scare. Richard Lagow is an underrated quarterback, and if he has a great performance against the Wolverines, this offensive slugfest could resemble the 2013 (63-47) version.
Only two of Michigan's home opponents are coming off of winnings seasons, and only three played in bowl games. Is an 8-0 record at the Big House a possibility? Yes, but being perfect is difficult in college sports, and there are a few places where Michigan can't afford to slip up.