Back in August, 7-0 and heading to East Lansing was the expectation, and that's where we are. The competition was slightly stiffer than we thought it was going to be though. Well, maybe that's not the way to say it. A better analysis is that the teams we played turned out to be better at playing teams other than Michigan than previously prognosticated. But for those that poopooed the perceived weakness of Michigan's non-conference, everybody we played is over .500, and Colorado is for real and ranked. Our first two Big Ten games included pistol whipping the 2nd best team in the East, and smothering the best team in the West. This was followed by two cupcakes that accounted for a combined 211 total yards and 8 total points over two games.
On Saturday specifically, Michigan had the ball (yes, time of possession is a dumb stat, but...) for 41+ minutes. That's crazy. They had 29 first downs to Illinois's 6. Michigan gave the impression that they were literally f***ing with them. It was like a practice, or a scrimmage to work out some kinks for a more important contest down the road. Let's see if we can perfect our slant timing and then feature De'Veon a bit to give him a chance to up his draft status...go. De'Veon ended up getting outshined by Higdon, who had Fournette-esque YPC, but Wilton made us all perk up a bit. And man, there were some straight money play calls. Open dudes everywhere. Opposing linebackers in full surrender cobra out of confusion.
There's two kinds of undefeated out there folks, the kind that Nebraska has, and the kind that Alabama has. The former features three or four coin flips that all land on heads and keep you undefeated. The latter makes people ask if you can beat the Cleveland Browns.
Michigan is the latter.
And while our first seven dispatched opponents have proven to be better than we thought, our final five foes are not meeting preseason expectations. The impossible juggernaut of three road games against the Big Ten's top three teams has been reduced to one road game against the Big Ten's worst team, one road game against the West's most disappointing team, and one road game against a team that lost to a team that Michigan beat 49-10.
Again, no doubt there are scary moments that will arise on the way to Columbus, but straight fear of losing anything before November 26th is all but gone, and fear of the day itself has waned. I don't know how to express this in a way that isn't super presumtive or jinx-making in nature, so I'm just going to let it lie. But I will tell you to get your ass to one of the two remaining home games. This is not normal. This team is special. We may dream that this will be the norm under horn-rimmed Jim, but there are no guarantees. Could be another 20 years. Could be never.
Enjoying the ride.
Ahhh, the bye week. I enjoyed mine. You?
Anybody see that Rutgers game? That's how you earn a week off: Run for nearly 500 yards through the 1 and 2 hole. Don't allow your opponent to get any yards at all.
Do you have any idea how much easier it is to implement new things and make improvements when you're winning like this? Me neither. Can't remember the last time we had a regime that learned from its mistakes let alone created wrinkles to improve on success. I've got a feeling we are going to see some shit over these next 9 games that is going to make you feel like you never saw the first 6. Yep, that's 15 games. Do the math.
Thanksgiving is coming.
It's a main course of "avoiding letdowns" and "not looking ahead" for us at this point, with a side dish of "padding some stats" and "Jabril for Heisman" talk. Meanwhile Jim assures us that each week is approached with that same enthusiasm...which is not so unknown anymore (just ask Rutgers). The "game" in New Jersey was statistical and historical annihilation, the kind of anomaly that skews total season statistics, and conjures such phrases as "running up the score" even when you only go to the air three times in the second half.
It is my pleasure to announce my dear friends that Michigan, for perhaps the first time since the 90's, has established the proverbial run.
So yes, it's us and them now.
It feels very much like 2006 through this point in the season, though then we had a signature road win against #2 Notre Dame. This years signature road win will have to wait until Columbus. Even though Sparty may try to Sparty, and Iowa is still wearing App State shirts and pretending we're rivals, neither is good enough be a "signature," nor smart enough to write their signature (rim shot).
There's a couple of small bumps in the road along the way, and there will be a scare or two I'm sure, but we seem to be on a collision course to face off for the coveted spot of "better than everybody else except Alabama," which when looked back on in 50 years by the participation award generation might just get us a trophy. And sure, the West with upstart Nebraska and not-going-quietly Iowa might pose some threat, but it's tough to not see The Game as a play-in game for the playoffs.
Apologies for the pictureless, disjointed and brief posting. I've got things to do. Cocktails, Southern charm, and ass-whuppin's are on the menu for Saturday. See you there.