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Early Week 1 preview: Connecticut

Listen closely, and you can almost hear marching bands and the roar of 100,000 fans. OK, not really. But let's look ahead anyway to UConn's opening game at The Big House.

Opponent: Michigan

Coach: Rich Rodriguez (third year, 8-16)

2009 record: 5-7 (1-7 Big Ten)

Returning starters: 15 (7 offense/ 8 defense)

About the Wolverines: Michigan made headlines this offseason, but not for the reasons its fans would want. Clearly, this is a make-or-break year for Rodriguez, and he'll need to win his opener against the Huskies to keep the vultures away a little while longer.

The good news is that the Wolverines were a young team last year and bring a lot back. Quarterback Tate Forcier showed his ability to make big plays as a freshman, but he was pushed hard by classmate Denard Robinson this spring. Five players who started all or part of the season are back on the offensive line, but Michigan's top two running backs are gone.

Defensive coordinator and former Syracuse coordinator Greg Robinson did lose his top defensive playmaker in Brandon Graham and his leading tackler in Stevie Brown. That's not promising for a unit that surrendered nearly 28 points per game a year ago. On the plus side the secondary -- a major trouble spot last year -- looked improved in the spring.

Random factoid: When Rodriguez was at West Virginia, he beat UConn by an average of 28.8 points and never by fewer than 12.

My totally unscientific percentage chance that Connecticut wins this game: 52.5 percent. It won't be easy to go and win this game on the road, especially against a team desperate to get off to a good start. But UConn is a veteran team that's ready for this kind of challenge, and it was simply a better team at the end of last season than the Wolverines were. If the game is close, expect Michigan to start doubting itself again. I give an ever-so-slight nod to UConn pulling a very mild upset.