For the second year in a row M is 5-2. As you pointed out, last year was the first 5-2 start that ended poorly in M history. Can we take what has happened so far to predict what will happen this year?
Last year's 5-2 came after a win over Delaware State. At that point of the season, there were questions about M's defense, but it hadn't shown itself to be BAD yet.
They had "good" defensive performances against WMU and DSU. Although they couldn't get off the field against MSU, they played well enough to keep M in the game until the offense woke up.
Against Iowa, they had a few bad breakdowns, but again, kept M in the game through several turnovers.
The rest of the season they gave up 35-38-38-45 before again looking like a decent defense in holding the Buckeyes to 21.
This year we've known the defense was BAD from day one. But I would say they are worse than most people expected. 37 points to UMass; 35 to Indiana; 34 to MSU and 38 to Iowa. At this point a year ago the most points M had given up was 34 to ND with what was assumed to be the best offense M would face all year.
So the defense looks to be in worse shape than last year.
On offense, the similarities between the two seasons are obvious - at least on the surface. "RR finally has the QB he needs to run his system." I'm pretty sure we heard that last year. We've definitely heard it this year. "Turnovers killed us against..." The injuries to the quarterback and "Molk have really hurt us."
At the same time, they're averaging more than 100 yards a game more than last year. The running game - with arguably worse backs - is often dominant. The offensive line seems to be very strong. Lewan, when he isn't getting stupid penalties, looks like he could be a great one. Both QBs have looked good - I'm going to go ahead and say that M will try for a medical redshirt on Gardner - the majority of the time. Robinson was dominant in ways that Forcier never was last year. But both showed the ability to lead late scoring drives.
I think the offense is better than last year, maybe not to the degree the defense is worse, but still better.
The special teams - The place-kicking was nothing to write home about last year, but it wasn't awful. This year is awful. Several of the misses/blocks have occured after bad snaps, so I'm not sure it is all on the kicker, but 2 of 8 is "NOT ACCEPTABLE." After some early trouble, the punting is doing very well. As good as Zoltan was, I think punting is close to even. The kick/punt return hasn't been anything special. A couple muffed punts haven;t cost M too much. Stonum hasn't been able to break a kickoff like he did last year. The kickoff coverage team seems like it is about ready to give up a TD - there have been some close calls. Overall - I'd say the special teams are not as strong as last year.
M is 1-10 in October under RR. The only victory was the whitewashing over Delaware St. M is 1-6 in November, with the only win over Minnesota when Nick Sheridan suddenly became competent.
My prediction for this point was 5-2, with losses to ND and Iowa. So I go the record right and swapped ND and MSU. Although losing to MSU hurts more than on the road to ND, overall this is a wash. Your prediction for this point of the season was 4-3. You had losses to UConn, ND and Indiana. So M won three games you had as losses, but lost two you thought they'd win. Even though they have a better record than you predicted, the consecutive loss trend might be pointing in a direction you wouldn't have liked.
We both predicted they'd finish out 2-3 with the wins over Illinois and Purdue. I think those games are still within reach, but maybe look a little tough than we expected. At the same time, Penn State may not be as tough as we thought.
Even though I spelled out above that the team is worse on defense and special teams than last years squad - I don't think this is a 5-7 team. I would think 7-5 is the most likely outcome with 8-4 slightly more likely than 6-6. Unfortunately, I think 5-7 is more likely than 9-3 or 10-2.
Predictions for after the bye week:
Forcier will play more even without Denard injuries.
One of the running backs will have at least one 100 yard game
Stonum or Gallon will break a return for a score
M will be positive in turnovers the rest of the way
The NCAA decision will come out at an inopportune time for M public relations-wise. And it will be slightly worse than expected - enough for the RR haters to raise the volume even more.
M will not make another field goal
Denard Robinson will not be invited to NYC for the Heisman ceremony
M will go to the Gator Bowl against Arkansas