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BIG TEN PREVIEW: MICHIGAN

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Michigan: WePanic.

This was fun.
This was fun.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

I don't know anything about anything. Neither do you. Thus, I am the perfect person to predict the Big Ten. Though I guess you could too.

NOTE: CONTAINS BLATANT HOMERISM.

LAST SEASON:

Yeah, basically. After beating Notre Dame despite Devin Gardner throwing the worst interception in the history of interceptions, Michigan "won" two incredibly stupid games against Akron and UConn, beat Minnesota, lost to Penn State in four overtimes featuring clock management straight from the bowels of Hell, beat Indiana with 503 passing yards, lost to MSU in a goddamn rainstorm of death and mud and no running game to speak of, lost to Nebraska at home because everything was idiotic, beat Northwestern (barely), frittered away a lead in a loss to Iowa, and redefined the term "losing well" in an effort against Ohio State that reminded one of the Charge of the Light Brigade, with poor, poor Devin Gardner barely escaping with his life.

TLDR; it was arduous for everyone involved.

WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT MICHIGAN IN 2013:

It is possible to lose in ways that are even worse than losing. Jeremy Gallon should have received some sort of knighthood. Offensive linemen should not themselves be offensive. Poor, poor Devin Gardner.

A SIDE NOTE THAT WILL LEAD BACK TO THE POINT IN JUST A SECOND:

I will put up with anything. Literally anything. I will volunteer to sit in the trunk of the car. I will help you with directions when no one else is willing. If the question is "is this okay?", the answer is always "yes." I had braces for nine consecutive years. My parents absentmindedly forgot to pick me up from school enough times to make me wonder whether they were attempting to abandon me and were just not very good at it. I once paid actual American money to live in a room previously known as "the dog's room" in which the ceiling leaked any time it rained, which led to my mattress being infested by mold, which led to me sleeping on the couch in my own home. The definition of "accommodating" has my picture and a sound card playing me saying, "oh, that's okay. Don't worry about it."

I am alone among Michigan fans, because Michigan fans are the least accommodating fan base on the face of the B1G earth. I am certain that SEC fans might be more easily riled, but Michigan fans will take math and Aristotelian philosophy and the mild heft of their master's degrees and attempt to hit the nearest member of the Michigan coaching staff in their goddang face with it. If Notre Dame fans are noted for their eternal (and quixotic) optimism, Michigan fans are noted for boundless, unceasing pessimism.

We long for a past that we hated while it was happening, in which Michigan would go 9-3 or 10-2 and people would complain like Michigan was a waiter who we couldn't find when we just wanted the goddamn check. If a Michigan fan tells you that they liked Tom Brady when he was playing at Michigan, they are lying because no Michigan fan ever liked whomever was starting at quarterback until Denard Robinson. We hated Elvis Grbac. We hated Brian Griese. We hated John Navarre. We hated Drew Henson. We hated - HATED - sad robot Chad Henne*. We like wide receivers, good defensive linemen, and winning, and we don't even like winning if we're not winning by like, 400.

At the 2007 Notre Dame game, a man standing next to me got out a lighter and swore to everyone around him that if Notre Dame scored he would set his season tickets on fire. He said this as Michigan was winning 38-0 (love you forever, Jimmy Clausen!) I will someday create a shirt that reads, "MICHIGAN: WE HATE US TOO SOMETIMES."

Now, Michigan fans are in the unique position of being completely justified for being ticked the hell off. Michigan went 7-6, losing four games by a combined 11 points and displaying whatever the exact opposite of "offensive prowess" is. The offensive line became the saddest game of musical chairs ever. Devin Gardner barely escaped with his life (and with a broken foot.) No one could run the dang ball. The defense tried its best until it gave up completely. And Brady Hoke moved from the Michigan Hot Seat Michigan Coaches Are Always On to the No, Actually, This Is Real Bad Hot Seat. Moves had to be made.

First, Hoke fired Al Borges, Lord of the Bubble Screen. He hired Doug Nussmeier away from Alabama, which everyone was excited about except for some people on the internet who think that maybe it was a secret plan by former MSU head coach Nick Saban because he was going to fire Doug anyway and Alabama's offense wasn't really that great. I will remind you: Michigan fans are completely and totally insane. Nussmeier has said he wants to focus on protecting the ball, securing the line of scrimmage, and simplifying the offense. That would be nice. Defensively, players like Blake Countess, Frank Clark, and freshman highlight God of War Jabrill Peppers will be expected to create more pressure on passers and generate sacks and turnovers.

SEASON PREVIEW BASED ON ALL OF MY HOPES AND FEARS:

I don't know. I have absolutely no idea. Michigan's home opener is a re-do of the program's lowest moment (looking forward to seeing shots of that scoreboard in the comments, guys!) They will then head to South Bend to take on Notre Dame for the final time - all of Michigan's most difficult games (ND, MSU, OSU) are on the road, because scheduling is just awesome. I genuinely have no idea how this season is going to go. This team has talent and also has youth and is bearing the weight of expectations and also the weight of an entire fan base's overwhelming sense of terror.

Granted, we never do know. We say we do, we write about how we do, we talk about the stats and regressing to the mean and improvement and who added what and who can do what with which player, but we have no fucking idea. You don't see a Auburn-Georgia ending coming. You don't see Oregon losing by like, seventy at Arizona coming. The mysteries of sports are in the unknown (and in explaining touchbacks to people who don't watch football.)

Michigan could be good on offense this year with a stable of running backs and Devin Funchess as a giant wide receiver/tight end. Or their offensive line issues could be crippling. Or they could manage to step up defensively, with Jake Ryan shifting to middle linebacker and another year of development for the secondary. Or this year could be the Ohio State game part deux. I don't know. All I know is that Michigan fans, not inclined to put up with much, won't put up with another not-great season. And we'll see whether or not the coaching staff got the message.

* The chant "We Want Mallett" actually happened.