It would have been a laughable argument in August, and it would have been downright foolish after the loss at Utah in week one, but is Michigan a threat to make some noise in the East division?
Yeah, yeah, I’m talking about THAT East division that has both Ohio State and Michigan State sitting in the cat-bird seat looking down at the rest of the division, conference, and as irony would have it, NCAA football right now.
But after a very impressive 31-0 win over a BYU team that seemed to have the football Gods on its side to this point, isn’t it worth asking the question?
Clearly, this Michigan program is not where Jim Harbaugh wants it to be. Quarterback Jake Rudock is still having brain-cramps far too often, the offense is still searching for consistency, and the competition level will surely go up and make things more difficult.
Slowly and methodically however — much like Harbaugh likely puts those khakis on each morning — the players wearing the winged helmets are buying in. The team is embracing the physical, no-frills offensive approach. That’s no different than what former head coach Brady Hoke tried to do, but Harbaugh comes with a proven resume that lends itself to a people following.
Everyone do your job, and all will be fine, just like I’ve shown in the past.
But is it enough to challenge both arch-rivals that are on the top of the Big Ten hill right now? That’s the question that’s not so pie-in-the-maize-and-blue sky any longer. Both Michigan State and Ohio State have to come to Ann Arbor, and both have had some moments of inconsistency. Give me a pick, and I’ll go with OSU and MSU over Michigan right now, but funnier things have happened, and there are stories similarly painted on college canvases every year.
There’s still a long, long way to go, and each of the three teams will look far different when they face off with each other, even in just three weeks on October 17 when Sparty and the fighting Harbaughs face-off. I’m not calling for the upset in either case, but what I am calling is that Michigan might make things very, very interesting in the East.
And how much fun would that be if Michigan rose up and spoiled one, if not both of its arch-rivals blue-prints for the season?
You can now ask that question without getting snickers and stares.
Phil Harrison is a contributor to talkingten.com. He is also a the founder of Big10news.com and featured contributor to collegefootballews.com and campusinsiders.com. You can follow him on twitter @PhilHarrisonCFB or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org If that doesn’t work, you can find him in the doghouse at home.