By: Doug Karsch
I love what the Wolverines have done here. I usually look at non-conference schedules and yawn. I remember years ago when I was campaigning for Michigan to avoid scheduling any 1-AA opponents someone in the Michigan athletic department told me, ‘you better warm up to the idea.’
My problem with those games was there is ZERO positive that can come out of those games. You either have to win by 10 Touchdowns or the game was considered too close. Playing anything remotely close to a ‘tight game’ would be treated like a loss. And if you lose … we all know, Armageddon.
What Michigan did by adding Utah, Oregon State and Colorado adds more intrigue to a time of year that has fewer and fewer interesting games. Not to mention, getting Oregon State and Colorado to agree to come to Ann Arbor for one game is nice too — no return trip — fans should love that. The Thursday night game will give Michigan the national stage to open the season. I get the sense that Michigan Athletic Director David Brandon loves the stage Michigan is on all summer leading into a marquee game against Alabama to open the season. Playing Utah on a Thursday night, isn’t Alabama, but it is a solo-act on a national stage.
For those that don’t think it’s tough enough, consider this: many have said Michigan has the toughest schedule in 2012 with games @ Alabama, Notre Dame, Nebraska and Ohio State. Also, from 2013-2016 only one Big Ten has more non-conference games scheduled against BCS conference opponents and Notre Dame — that’s Northwestern with 10. Michigan has 8. No one in the SEC has more than 8. Again, tougher than most. That could change and if you don’t think it’s tough, then do yourself a favor and look at everybody else’s non-conference schedule.
For those concerned about Notre Dame dropping off the schedule in 2018-2019, believe me, they will be replaced by a big time program. Brandon see’s the schedule as a marketing tool, just as much as anything, so he won’t let an opportunity to add a marquee game pass him by.