Denard Robinson, Detrick Bonner. Luther Maddy

CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 5 Michigan


2011 record: 11-2 overall, 6-2 in Big Ten (2nd in Legends)

2011 postseason: Sugar Bowl (23-20 OT win over Virginia Tech)

2011 final AP/coaches’ ranking: No. 12/No. 9

Head coach: Brady Hoke (58-52 overall, 11-2 in one season at Michigan)

Offensive coordinator: Al Borges (second season at Michigan, second as OC)

2011 offensive rankings: 13th rushing offense (221.8 ypg); 93rd passing offense (182.8 ypg); 42nd total offense (404.7 ypg); 26th scoring offense (33.3 ppg)

Returning offensive starters: seven

Defensive coordinator: Greg Mattison (second season at Michigan, second as DC)

2011 defensive rankings: 39th rushing defense (131.7 ypg); 16th passing defense (190.5 ypg); 17th total defense (322.1 ypg); 6th scoring defense (17.4 ppg)

Returning defensive starters: seven

Location: Ann Arbor, Mich.

Stadium: Michigan Stadium (109,901; FieldTurf)

Last league title: 2004 (co-champs with Iowa)

Schedule: [view]

Roster: [view]

2011 statistics: [view]

The Good
A defense that was leaps and bounds above anything seen during the Rich Rodriguez era returns seven starters and a year’s worth of experience in coordinator Greg Mattison’s system, which certainly bodes well for UM’s chances both in the conference and nationally.  Speaking of another year in the same system, quarterback/running back Denard Robinson will look to benefit from the experience he received last year in Al Borges’ offense, brought over from San Diego State but which also utilized some of the elements of the run-based spread that made Robinson so successful his first two seasons in Ann Arbor.  Robinson reportedly had a very solid spring throwing the football earlier this year which, when combined with his still-lethal running ability, could have the senior poised to take his game up another notch or two.

The Bad
Robinson, at least early in the season, may have no other choice but to take his game to the next level thanks to the off-field antics of one of his backfield mates.  Fitz Toussant, who led all Wolverine backs in rushing last year with 1,041 yards, has been indefinitely suspended following a drunk-driving arrest last month.  It’s unclear how many, if any, games Toussant will miss, although it’s a near certainty he will be unavailable for the opener.  As critical as that game is for any BcS hopes the Wolverines entertain, losing Toussaint would serve as a significant blow.

The Unknown
While I lobbed plaudits on the defense, there is still uncertainty when it comes to that unit.  Specifically, the defensive line and the loss of three of the four starters on that unit.  How quickly the new starters as well as the rest of the line rotation adjust to the upgraded workload will go a long way in determining whether the defense as a whole continues its progress under Mattison.

Make-or-break game: vs. Alabama at Arlington, Texas, Sept. 1
The Game will always be The Game; this season though, with stratospheric expectations firmly in place, the game for the Wolverines will not be the regular-season finale at Ohio State, but the opener against the defending BcS champions.  What better way for a team to measure itself and gauge its ability to compete on the national stage than to go to a neutral field and face a team that’s won two of the past three BcS titles?  The Wolverines will do just that in front of a nationally-televised primetime audience, with the Tide providing as stiff an early-season litmus as one could hope to find.

Heisman hopeful: quarterback Denard Robinson
Last season for Robinson paled in comparison to his 2010 sophomore campaign, with the QB posting 923 yards less of total offense — 397 passing, 526 rushing — and a lower completion percentage — 55 percent to 62.5 — than he did during the final season under RichRod.  He did account for four more total touchdowns, but even that was mitigated somewhat by four more interceptions than the year before as well as a handful more fumbles.  That said, there were signs during spring practice that the light bulb may have indeed gone on for Robinson.  If that’s the case, Robinson and his electrifying skills will be a part of the Heisman discussion throughout the year.

Return to CFT’s preseason Top 25

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Oklahoma jumps from fifth to third in latest AP poll

Sterling Shepard

A 35-point win on the road in a de facto conference championship game was enough to push Oklahoma past Iowa for the third spot in the latest Associated Press top 25.

Clemson and Alabama retained the top two spots, while a trio of Big Ten teams in Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State occupied numbers four, five and six. Stanford moved to No. 7 after its last second win over Notre Dame, who tumbled from fourth to ninth. Ohio State jumped from No. 8 to No. 6, while Michigan tumbled to No. 19 after a 42-13 Buckeyes win in Ann Arbor.

Florida State moved into the top 10 after a 27-2 blowout of Florida (who fell from 10th to 18th), while TCU past Baylor after its double overtime slop-fest win on Friday night.

Utah, USC, LSU and Wisconsin moved into the poll, while Washington State, Mississippi State, Toledo and UCLA fell out.

The full rankings:

1. Clemson – 1,511 total points (53 first-place votes)
2. Alabama – 1,469 (8)
3. Oklahoma – 1,367
4. Iowa – 1,345
5. Michigan State – 1,318
6. Ohio State – 1,197
7. Stanford – 1,137
8. North Carolina – 1,085
9. Notre Dame – 1,022
10. Florida State – 951
11. TCU – 927
12. Baylor – 842
13. Northwestern – 711
14. Oklahoma State – 699
15. Oregon – 616
16. Ole Miss – 584
17. Houston – 571
18. Florida – 566
19. Michigan – 518
20. Temple – 269
21. Utah – 244
22. Navy – 206
23. LSU – 199
24. USC – 189
25. Wisconsin – 124

Clemson, ‘Bama, Iowa remain top three in latest Coaches’ Poll

Dabo Swinney

Hey, how about some actual on the field football news?

The latest Amway USA Today Coaches’ Poll was released Sunday afternoon, with the top three remaining entirely unchanged. Oklahoma moved up from fifth to fourth, while Ohio State is now just one spot behind Michigan State at sixth.

Michigan was this week’s biggest loser, falling from 12th to 19th, while USC leapt from 32nd to 24th thanks to a big win over UCLA.

The full poll:

1. Clemson – 1,558 points (52 first-place votes)
2. Alabama – 1,508 (8)
3. Iowa – 1,412 (1)
4. Oklahoma – 1,408
5. Michigan State – 1,350
6. Ohio State – 1,252
7. Stanford – 1,155
8. North Carolina – 1,107
9. Florida State – 1,054
10. Notre Dame – 994
11. TCU – 931
12. Baylor – 836
13. Northwestern – 768
14. Oklahoma State – 688
15. Florida – 655
16. Oregon – 634
17. Ole Miss – 595
18. Houston – 526
19. Michigan – 515
20. Utah – 287
21. Temple – 276
22. Navy – 223
23. LSU – 207
24. USC – 164
25. Wisconsin – 148

Rutgers reportedly ousts AD Julie Hermann, head coach Kyle Flood

Kyle Flood
1 Comment

Rutgers is reportedly heading into a Black Sunday fire sale, ousting AD Julie Hermann and head coach Kyle Flood on the same day.

The Ausbury Park Press reported early Sunday afternoon Hermann was fired at RU president Robert Barchi‘s house in a meeting that lasted all of 11 minutes. The first female athletics director in Big Ten history, controversy followed Hermann from her first day on campus, whether it was questions of possible mistreatment during her stint at Tennessee’s volleyball coach, to saying “it would be great” if Rutgers’ local paper went under, to making inappropriate statements about Jerry Sandusky to angering former Scarlet Knights player Eric LeGrand.

Shortly after the Hermann news broke, reports emerged stating Flood will follow Hermann out the door.

Flood began his tenure as Rutgers’ coach with a 9-1 start in 2012, but won just 18 of 41 games after that, including four of 16 games since joining the Big Ten.

In addition to stumbling on the field, Flood was suspended three games this season for academic violations and had multiple players suspended for crimes ranging from home invasion to assault.

Mike London resigns as Virginia head coach

Mike London
Associated Press
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Six unsuccessful seasons came for Mike London at Virginia came to an end Sunday, as the program announced its head coach had resigned.

From the school’s press release:

(AD Craig) Littlepage met with London this morning to discuss the future of the Virginia football program. At that time, Littlepage and London decided a change in leadership was in the best interests of the program. Littlepage has not specified a time frame for concluding the search, citing the fact that many of the possible candidates will be involved in postseason play. Littlepage will not make further comments until the search has concluded.

Hired away from Richmond after taking the Spiders to the 2008 FCS national championship, London went just 27-46 in his six years in Charlottesville. He appeared in only one bowl game — the 2011 Chick-fil-A Bowl, a 43-24 loss to Auburn — and won four of fewer games in four of his six campaigns.

Virginia considered ousting London after the 2014 season, but the Hoos thought a 5-7 campaign showed enough progress to retain him for 2015. That faith went unrewarded as Virginia went just 4-8 this fall, concluding with a 23-20 loss to Virginia Tech.

“I appreciate the opportunity to have been the head football coach at the University of Virginia and for the relationships that have been formed during my time in Charlottesville that will last for years to come,” London said in a statement. “I took this job to make a profound difference in the lives of young men and to re-establish Virginia football as one of the best programs in the ACC. While we were successful in the development of our players in many areas, I would have liked to have won more games for the student-athletes, coaches, fans and everyone that’s a part of the University of Virginia.”