It seems like deja vu all over again, doesn't it?
It's been happening for the past three years. We start without a loss, we beat Notre Dame and it's considered a "huge" win, Denard Robinson is viewed as the amazing quarterback athlete...and then we lose to Michigan State.
We've been on this road before...or have we?
There have been major changes to the team since Rich Rodriguez was fired. We have a defense that isn't constructed around a colander. We have an offensive line that has gotten bigger, albeit it's still difficult at times for them to keep the defense back. And we have a quarterback that is learning how to be a complete quarterback - when he's given the right plays.
The biggest objection I have to the game against Michigan State was that Denard Robinson was given too many plays where he had to throw balls over 15 yards. He is still unsure about that, and when he's not consistent, he struggles mentally. When I attended the game against Minnesota, it was clear that Al Borges was trying to give Robinson's receivers short routes to run, so that he could gain some confidence in his throwing arm. Unfortunately, there weren't enough short routes open against the MSU defense. They may have picked up on that thought, or the wrong calls were played.
I was happy to see that they kept it close at the end. If Robinson had not thrown that pick-six, the game might have ended with State winning by just a touchdown.
If anything, this got the national media to stop putting Michigan on a pedestal that they didn't deserve. Did they deserve to be #11 in the nation? Really? Are there only ten teams better than Michigan? I highly doubt that. It puts Michigan back in its place: as a team that's rebuilding and finding its footholds again.
But what does that say about the rest of the season? In 2008, they lost three out of four after MSU. In 2009, they lost six out of seven (the win was against Delaware State). In 2010, they lost four out of six. This year, we have Purdue, Iowa (away), Illinois (away), Nebraska, and Ohio State. Two of those games - Purdue and Iowa, are winnable (especially when you see Iowa lost to Penn State and didn't even score a touchdown). Even Nebraska, who has only played one ranked team all season and looked terrible against them (Wisconsin), is a game that can be won in Ann Arbor. Actually, if you look at Illinois and Ohio State's performances this season, there is a chance to win them all! We can't be discounted for any of these games. Even if I don't think we will, we hopefully won't win just one.
This coming month is the true test for the Wolverines. September and early October were practice, as they always are. If Michigan wants to be true to the ranking that had been given them earlier in the season, they need to show their mettle against these Big Ten teams that do have weaknesses.
I have all the confidence in this team's future games, and I do believe that this team is far better than the teams of the past three seasons.