Ah, the bye week. Watching football, evaluating others without the pressure of trying to know and understand the future of your own team, hey maybe even attending the wedding of a friend considerate enough to get hitched when Michigan isn't playing. For us the fans, the break is full of questions and with a new quarterback an increasingly uncertain future. Getting meaning from any game so far has been difficult. Anyone outside of Ann Arbor will tell you that Florida sucked and their "whole team" was suspended, Cincinnati and Air Force were garbage that we let hang around, and Purdue is Purdue (despite being a resurgent juggernaut until about 6:30PM on the 23rd when Michigan took the lead).
For Michigan, the break is early but opportune. What Harbaugh calls "improvement week" will need to yield significant benefits in the form of offensive line cohesion and new quarterback to receiver timing...not that ides of August through the first quarter of the Purdue game yielded anything better from the incumbent QB.
I watched some Sparty on Saturday. Lewerke has some efficiency to him. For some reason I can't come to grips with our defensive backfield being good, so this scares me. Purdue was supposed to be the test, and we passed, but I'm not sold, which is more based on the reverse Pavlovian beating I've taken in that category since the 90's than anything else. It should be noted the game was ugly in that Big Ten way. I feel this Saturday could be similarly ugly. The gurus over at mytopsportsbooks.com are touting spreads that started at 2 TDs but are clearly moving in the Spartan direction and are down to 10 in most places. That's what rivalries do I guess. Is this a rivalry? Regardless, ten points can carry some serious weight in a slugfest.
Sparty seems to be improved, I mean, they have already matched the number of total wins (3) and Big Ten wins (1) from 2016. Improvement from the previous year was inevitable. The bottom is the bottom. But can they compete with the big boys? Transitively, they are in the conversation as PSU needed a miracle to knock off Iowa, but I don't know if Sparty is ready for the speed and aggressiveness they are about to endure.
As always, this game will be decided by turnovers and who runs the ball better. The first is a crapshoot and the latter, while not a super strength from an offensive standpoint, I cannot imagine Sparty getting any significant yards on the ground. Trust in Don Brown. Swarm to the ball. Beat Michigan State.