We all have expectations. The problem with them is that they are ever changing. Week to week...even game to game. At halftime of the Wisconsin game, you expected Michigan Football to fold up shop for the rest of that game...and perhaps the remainder of the season. At the end of the Wisconsin game, and moving into this week against Illinois, you had us improving our way through this transitional season, and sneaking ourselves into a Big Ten title chase like we snuck our way through that second half. On the heels of the Illini's 42-6 run in the final three quarters of Saturday's game, expectations have changed again. Admit it, you are worried about Toledo. Ya, me too.
It's difficult to decide what is real, what is growth and improvement, from what is an aberration. Was that ass-kicking we just endured the real 2008 Wolverines...or was that the product of a bad day, bad scheme, or over-confidence? Was the amazing poise and fortitude we showed against Wisconsin the result of luck and circumstance? If Wisconsin gave Ohio State its biggest scare outside of the Colosseum, can we make a game of it in Columbus? Or with Juice racking up 431 yards in our house, can we expect Pryor to break an NCAA record in the Horseshoe?
We've played 20 quarters of football this season...maybe 5 of them could be considered complete or successful, but not quite completely successful. That's 25% good, 75% bad based on my rough estimates. Not exactly a bolstering of my confidence.
But if I told you we went toe to toe with an undefeated Utah team that is the second best flavor of the month in college football behind their neighbors in Salt Lake City and has clawed their way to a #14 ranking, and knocked off a team from Madison that was ranked #9 and by all indications was a challenger for the Big Ten title...maybe that would help. Until Saturday (and thru most of Saturday) we found ourselves competing in every game. And while we might be bringing a knife to these gun fights, we still are managing to get some good stabs in along the way. I think we can play with anybody. Unfortunately, I think anybody can play with us as well. Someday, hopefully sooner than later, we will find ourselves with the defense we saw keep us in the Wisconsin game exist symbiotically with the offense from the first quarter of Illinois game and the turnover margin from, well, some other season.
This is still worth waiting for.