Monday, July 27, 2009

Michigan pleasantly surprises me

It's been a long-standing assumption during Michigan's search for an opponent for the 2010 opener that it will be somebody good, but not somebody good enough to require a return visit (the unending Notre Dame deal generally has stopped UM from scheduling other nonconference home-and-home series).

Rich Rodriguez pleasantly surprised all of us, though, with this announcement at Big Ten Media Day:
The 2010 home opener will be a “BCS home-and-home” Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez confirmed today. Rodriguez said contracts are still in the works, but there should be an announcement in the coming weeks.
So much for my idea that Boise State was as good as UM was going to find. Without any real information, though (other than "BCS"), we'll have to rely on a couple assumptions:
  1. Teams like Duke (sorry, Adam Rittenberg) and Washington State aren't good enough to justify a return game.
  2. Anyone with a quality road nonconference game or two quality nonconference games overall in 2010 won't be interested in a trip to Ann Arbor.
With that in mind, the most likely candidates (courtesy of Mgoblog's scheduling research) appear to be Oklahoma State, Cal, Arkansas, Virginia and South Carolina. Teams falling into the "maybe" category are LSU, Oregon State, Pitt and NC State.

I'd love to see a series against Cal, even with Michigan's recent history of falling flat on trips to the West Coast. I'd also be pretty excited by a visit to Fayetteville or Columbia to play an SEC team under the lights (LSU would be even better, but given their 2010 schedule and the whole Les Miles fiasco, I'm not holding my breath). The only teams on that list that really don't interest me are Virginia and NC State, probably just because of the general mediocrity of the ACC.

My prediction: I'm gonna have to agree with Mgoblog here and say that the mystery opponent is Oklahoma State, which fancies itself as an up-and-coming power but lacks a premier opponent in the near future. As much as I'd like it to be Cal, their potential stadium renovation (which could force them to Candlestick Park or another nearby locale for the 2011 season) might make scheduling UM's return trip to Berkeley unreasonably difficult.

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