Michigan’s 2011 football schedule was made public earlier today, revealing that in addition to Notre Dame, the Wolverines’ non-conference opponents will be Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, and San Diego State. The full schedule can be found below or here:
9/3 – vs. Western Michigan
9/10 – vs. Notre Dame (8 p.m.)
9/17 – vs. Eastern Michigan
9/24 – vs. San Diego State
10/1 – Bye Week
10/8 – at Wisconsin
10/15 – vs. Indiana (Homecoming)
10/22 – at Michigan State
10/29 – at Iowa
11/5 – vs. Minnesota
11/12 – vs. Illinois
11/19 – at Northwestern
11/26 – vs. Ohio State
Michigan’s non-conference portion of the schedule presents one real tough game (Notre Dame at night) and three cupcakes. Of course, by 2011 it’s possible that San Diego State could be tougher considering former Michigan assistant Brady Hoke is the head coach of the Aztecs, but still, there aren’t exactly any thrilling matchups outside of the ND night game.
The month of October is a little strange because Michigan only has one home game. The month starts with a bye and a road game, has Indiana at home in the middle, and then finishes with two more road games. In all, Michigan will play only one home game in a span of five weeks, which kind of sucks.
The season concludes in November with three home games and one road game. 2011 will be the first Ohio State game at home since the Big Ten season has been extended past Thanksgiving on a permanent basis, so it will be interesting to see what effect that has on the crowd, especially the student section. Most students that live in the state of Michigan can go home for Thanksgiving and then come back for the game, but many out of state students fly home and then don’t come back until the Sunday after Thanksgiving. If Michigan is playing for a Big Ten title or something big then students will be more inclined to stick around, but if not I fear there could be even more scarlet and gray in the stadium than there has been the last couple of OSU games.
One of the interesting things Dave Brandon told AnnArbor.com about scheduling in general is that a neutral-site game could be a possibility in the future.
Michigan also has been approached about playing a neutral-site game against a major-conference opponent, but so far there are no plans for that happen. One possibility could be defending national champion Alabama, perhaps in Atlanta around a future induction ceremony at the new College Football Hall of Fame.
“I like to look at all kinds of new, different stuff,” Brandon said. “Remember, I’m a change-is-good guy, so I’ll listen to whatever anybody wants to propose. But just because I’m listening doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. Too early to tell.”
Brandon also mentioned that there is no hurry to schedule games for 2012 and 2013 because it’s possible the Big Ten could look quite different in a couple years. If the conference schedule changes as a result of expansion, it would be a pain to rearrange a bunch of non-conference games, so in that regard it looks like Brandon will wait to see what happens with the Big Ten before scheduling any big games too far down the road.