Big Ten Football Countdown: No.4 Michigan

Zimbio.com

Michigan looks to bounce back from a "disappointing" 2012 season.

2012 was a disappointing year for Michigan, coming off a Orange Bowl victory and entering the season as Big Ten favorites, only to have the entire state of Michigan get obliterated by Jadeveon Clowney. 2013 provides a "veil" for Michigan, quietly lurking in the depths of Big Ten, unbeknownst to Ohio State or Nebraska that they could strike and claim the Big Ten title. Michigan has a lot of offensive weapons necessary to succeed including their starting quarterback, wide receiver and runningback. Six defensive starters to a defense that allowed just 19.8 points a game makes the Michigan team even more of a Big Ten threat. A "favorable schedule" that consists of Ohio State, Nebraska and Notre Dame all at home sets up Michigan with opportunities to succeed. This season holds many attributes similar to that of 2011, a sleeper team with a lot of talent that could crash the BCS party.

2012 Record: 8-5 (6-2)

Returning Starters: 13 (5 OFF, 6 DEF, 2 ST)

Key Losses on Offense: QB Denard Robinson (1319 yds passing, 1266 yds rushing 16 TD), WR Roy Roundtree (580 yds. 3 TD), OG Patrick Omameh, C Elliott Mealer,

Key Losses on Defense: DE Craig Roh, DT William Campbell, LB Kenny Demens, CB J.T. Floyd, S Kordan Kovacs

Head Coach: Brady Hoke: 19-7 (3rd Year)

Strength: Offense and Secondary

Perhaps the Big Ten's most intriguing quarterback plays in Ann Arbor. QB Devin Gardner (1219 yds. 11 TD) made his name known last season, eclipsing 1,000+ yards in just five games. Gardner will have an elite crop of receivers to throw to including WR Jeremy Gallon (829 yds. 4 TD), WR Drew Dileo (331 yds. 2 TD) and TE Devin Funchess (234 yds. 5 TD). Gardner also has options if he wants to keep the offense on the ground as runningbacks Fitzgerald Toussaint (514 yds. 5 TD) and Thomas Rawls (242 yds. 4 TD) return. Michigan won't be just talented at creating passes, they'll also be talented at stopping the pass as CB Raymon Taylor (45 TOT) and S Thomas Gordon (81 TOT) return to the nation's 5th best pass defense that allowed just 169 passing yards a game.

Weakness/Questions: Offensive/Defensive Line

The offense has almost all the pieces to be a legitimate Big Ten title contender, all there missing (or have yet to see) is a solid offensive line. All Big Ten first team LT Taylor Lewan and RT Michael Schofield are the only returning starters to an offensive line that allowed 18 sacks last season. Underclassmen LG Ben Branden and C Jack Miller are projected to fill spots on the offensive line. Michigan could also see problems on the defensive front four as NT Quinton Washington (32 TOT) is the only returning starter to a rush defense that allowed 150 rushing yards a game. Since rushing tin the Big Ten isn't projected to go down, it could be a long year for the Maize and Blue. Of course DE Brennen Beyer (19 TOT) and LB Desmond Morgan (81 TOT) will help make up for the lost talent.

Projected Record: 10-2 (6-2)

Bowl Game: Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl

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