I apologize for being off the grid for the past couple of days. Things have been somewhat hectic around here, but I'm going to get right to it. The Big Ten conference schedules for 2015-16 were just announced today. Now, I don't put a whole lot of stock into analysis just yet because who knows what kind of teams will be around come that time, or coaches, for that matter. Let me start with 2015, followed by 2016.
1st--MSU. We play Sparty for both Big Ten openers in 2015 and 2016. Is this significant? Yes and no. No longer will Sparty have a bye week before playing Michigan. I thought this was a near cheat the past couple seasons, what with MSU being able to rest their players before one of the first marquee match-ups of the season. However, typically by the first Big Ten game we don't know what the teams are made of just yet. Maybe we'll have a dominating team, or maybe they'll be a second half downfall team. It's hard to gauge that only 4-5 games into the season. Either way, we go to East Lansing in 2015 followed by hosting duties in 2016. Right now, I'll say we win both.
2nd--Wisconsin. Playing Wiscy after MSU in 2015 is going to be a difficult task. More than likely Wiscy will still be a run first team, but they're usually near the top of division foes. Luckily, it's a home game after East Lansing, so I'm going with another win. In 2016, it gets a little easier with having to travel to Minnesota. The Gophers always have their ups and downs (Granted, usually more downs), yet when we play there, they always play tougher. Do I think they'll have a team to play tough enough? Nope. Another win.
3rd--Minnesota. In 2015, we have Minnesota at home. Not much to worry about, I believe. The Golden Gophers rarely play golden in the Big House. I'd say easy win. In 2016, we host Northwestern. Read previous statement about Minnesota. The same applies.
4th--In 2015, we travel to Illinois on the 4th week. This could be somewhat of a trap game. Illinois is streaky, and with their new coach I have no idea what the identity of the team will be. That being said, I'd say it'd be a close win. In 2016, we'll have our bye during this week.
5th--In 2015, this is our bye week. In 2016, we travel to Wisconsin. if you read what I said earlier, then I believe the same will remain true. Nevertheless, Wisconsin can be brutal to play at Camp Randall. I believe this will be a loss. (I know, reality stings)
6th--In 2015, home against Nebraska. This will be their 3rd trip to the Big House, quietly setting up another conference rivalry, but it's going to be a close win. In 2016, we host Illinois. I think in this year, the Fighting Illini will have a poor team, and it'll be a runaway win.
7th--In 2015, we're going to Northwestern. I hate to say it...but here is a trap game. An overlooked opponent and a loss. In 2016, we'll be going to Nebraska. By then it might be a colder climate, and the Cornhuskers might be better prepared for us this season. I'd say a close loss.
8th-In 2015, we're at Iowa, followed by a home game against Iowa in 2016. Needless to say we lost last season, and that hurts. Kirk Ferentz might still be around in these seasons, but he could retire also. Iowa is a blue collar team like us and is always a thorn. I think playing them this late in the season though does help since they have a pattern of nose bombing during the second half of the season. I'm going with a win during both seasons.
9th--As always, OSU in the final week, and of course for both seasons. Ohio will rarely have a down season like they endured last year. We all know the reasons why. Meyer recruits hard, and recruits well. In 2015, we travel to Columbus with a home stand the following year. Now I respect Meyer, but he isn't Brady Hoke. Wins for both seasons!
So, that's my extremely-early-premature-preliminary evaluation for the conference schedules coming up in 2015-16. Overall, Michigan should look pretty solid, but these are very early picks that could easily change in the near future. We probably won't know their important until perhaps 2015 or 2016.