Prior to the kickoff against Utah, you prognosticated. Maybe you were one of those positive people (like myself) that knew that we wouldn't miss a beat and we would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 9-4 after a New Year's Day bowl game. Then again, perhaps you knew of the growing pains we are seemingly enduring, and you had us somewhere between 3-9 and 6-7. Either way, and in either case, 3 wins were essentially guaranteed. This weekend's game was one of those wins.
Taking a step back in order to go forward is something that you may not be willing to accept, but it's something you may have expected. But the degree of the step back is what is in question with the 2008 Wolverines. Why you may have been willing to allow the pride of the WAC to come into the Big House and exit with half-a-million dollars and an upset victory, you excused the fumblitis in the miracle-friendly confines of South Bend, and you chalked up the greatest individual performance in the history of the Big House to a minor hiccup on defense and "Juice being Juice"...there is one area of competition in which there is no room for mediocrity. That area? Games against the MAC.
We own the MAC. We are, for lack of a better term, "the MAC's daddy." 24-0. And while 15 of those victories are against Directional Michigan, it is still a quite impressive feat. In fact, it's an honor we share with only one other Big Ten team...you guessed it...Ohio State (14-0). And while the importance of this record is certainly up for debate, there is no doubting its importance right here, right now. The college football world is looking at us as a team in a downward spiral, and a portion of the Maize and Blue faithful are not exactly optimistic based on what has transpired. Patience is something we may or may not have. We've never been required to exercise that part of our fandom. Not at Michigan. At Michigan, we win...decidedly more than we lose.
On Saturday this will all come to a head. I'm not sure that the world is prepared for the first edition of Toledo vs. Michigan to end with a Rockets victory....mostly because I'm not sure how well that same world is dealing with the idea that there is a chance of a Rockets victory. There are many that feel the sky is falling right now, and it is those folks, through talk radio, talking heads, and the blogosphere, that will get incendiary if the worst were to happen. They are the ones that are promoting the doubt that may slowly creep in to your psyche. A loss to Toledo, on our home field, may spread that doubt from the doubters to the believers...and to the players. A chain reaction that may be difficult to stop, and that may end with clipping a regime change before it's allowed to take root.
So we wait. We wait for answers. The same answers we've been waiting for all season. We've seen a home opening loss to a team from Utah, a lifeless performance against "not that Miami," a wet mess of a game devoid of ball control fundamentals, and a comeback victory muddled by a homecoming massacre.
We know nothing.
We know nothing except this: WE MUST WIN.