ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Greetings from the Bigger House, which will be rededicated today following a $226 million renovation. Michigan opens a critical season against Connecticut after back-to-back losing campaigns.
The place certainly looks nice. I know the media is pleased with the new press box, which comes with an excellent pregame spread. Great atmosphere around the stadium today and around campus last night. A surprising number of Connecticut fans are here, although I hear they've always traveled well for basketball. A special shout-out to my new friend Matan, a Michigan fan living in Bogota, Colombia, who tells me the Big Ten blog gets him through the day.
The weather will be interesting, as the winds are gusting up to 25 miles an hour, blowing toward the southwest. Both teams' specialists could have some adventures out there, and Michigan is replacing both its starting kicker and starting punter.
All signs point to sophomore Denard Robinson starting for Michigan at quarterback, but head coach Rich Rodriguez likely will play multiple signal-callers. Michigan must establish the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. If the Wolverines' offensive line is as advertised, and if defensive tackle Mike Martin can clog up the middle, Michigan should control the line.
Connecticut's defense is solid, especially at linebacker, as Greg Lloyd starts in the middle after being told earlier this year that he would redshirt the season because of injuries. The Huskies also boast an outstanding running back in junior Jordan Todman, who will be Michigan's primary focus on defense.
Michigan will be without three players: cornerback Troy Woolfolk (ankle, out for season), safety Jared Van Slyke (clavicle) and running back Fitzgerald Toussaint. Wideout Junior Hemingway (hamstring) is questionable.
Check in before the game as Brock Mealer, the brother of Michigan offensive lineman Elliott Mealer, leads Michigan out of the tunnel after an amazing recovery from a serious car accident.
The atmosphere will be electric, but can Michigan match it with its play?