The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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The Big Ten is changing up its divisional system, with the addition of Rutgers and Maryland. The Wolverines will now square off against their two biggest rivals — Ohio State and Michigan State — every season with major, East Division implications. The national preview magazines are in agreement about the East Division, and the conference, at large, this season. They're all predicting that Urban Meyer will win his first conference title as Ohio State's head coach. "The Buckeyes are loaded with talent all over the roster," Sporting News noted. "Some of it is proven, like quarterback Brax- ton Miller and the defensive line, but a lot of it must deliver consistently after showing flashes or waiting patiently. No team in the Big Ten can match Ohio State's speed and athletic ability. If the back end of the de- fense and the offensive line come together, look out." The Wolverines' Predicted Finish National Outlet Rank Record East Champ Big Ten Champ Lindy's 20 — Ohio State OSU over Wisc. Athlon 32 8-4 Ohio State OSU over Wisc. Sporting News — — Ohio State OSU over Neb. USA Today 29 8-4 Ohio State OSU over Neb. Bowl Game Predictions The football postseason is changing this year, with a move to a four-team playoff to determine the national champion. The Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl will serve as the semifinal games, with the two winners of those bowls facing off Jan. 12 in Arlington, Texas, for the championship. Most of the major publications, including Lindy's and Athlon, are predicting that the Big Ten will not send a team to the four-team playoff. M 32 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW Magazines Predict Ohio State Will Take East Division And Big Ten Titles ALL EYES ON DEVIN GARDNER Fifth-year senior quarterback Devin Gardner isn't getting the typical praise of a veteran Michigan starting quarterback. Of the four national preview magazines polled for this story (Athlon, Lindy's, Sporting News and USA Today), none of them mentioned Gardner on their first-, second- or third-team preseason All-Big Ten teams. Gardner threw for 2,960 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2013, but as Athlon pointed out: "He also tossed 11 interceptions and took far too many hits — missing the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl with a broken foot." "The Wolverines hope that Gardner will display the kind of consis- tency needed for the team to contend for a divisional title," Sporting News noted. "Gardner looked great in some games (Notre Dame, Ohio State) and overwhelmed in others (Michigan State, Iowa). He has the ability to stress defenses with his arms and feet, but he must become a better decision maker." Preseason All-Big Ten Quarterbacks Magazine First Team Second Team Third Team Athlon's Braxton Miller, OSU Christian Hackenberg, PSU Connor Cook, MSU Sporting News Miller — — Lindy's Miller Hackenberg Cook USA Today Miller — — Here are some thoughts on Gardner from other publications: Lindy's: "Gardner returns for his final season and will now work with his third offensive coordinator. If Gardner can hold off sophomore Shane Morris for the starting job, he'll need to focus on his health." Athlon: "Michigan coach Brady Hoke started the spring by declaring the quarterback race an open competition. However, as spring progressed, Gardner — as expected — had pushed himself into the lead for the starting job." USA Today: "Gardner is plenty gifted, but he's up and down. You'd have to scour the record books pretty hard to find another quarterback who had two games with more than 450 passing yards and two games with less than 100 in the same season." All of the preseason preview magazines tabbed Michigan's Devin Funchess as a first-team All- Big Ten wide receiver. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN 8,10-12,14-28,30-32.IMA.indd 32 6/19/14 5:03 PM

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