You Can Have Anything You Want

Michigan defeats UNLV 35-7

Photo: Brad Muckenthaler

I think it took until probably the Rutgers game last year for me to realize that Michigan could be one of those teams. You know – one of those memorable teams that we'll look back on years from now and recall as one of the best Michigan teams of a generation...kinda like we do with the '97 team, or maybe '03 or '06.

They trudged through a frustrating first half in Piscataway only to come out swinging in the 3rd quarter en route to a convincing 52-17 win that left no doubt that Michigan had more than enough firepower to win the Big Ten and make the CFB playoff, despite undefeated and top-ranked Ohio State still looming on the schedule. 

All they had to do was start acting like the elite team that they were.

They had to start to believe.

[View our complete photo gallery from UNLV here]

Photo: Brad Muckenthaler

I know ECU and UNLV are not a true barometer for the success of this current squad, but it does feel to me like this Michigan team is also one of those teams.

Through two games, Michigan has shown me enough that they have all the pieces and parts of an elite squad that should not only win the Big Ten, but make some serious noise in the CFB playoff.

2023 feels like a continuation of the success that Michigan has built over the last two seasons. They have the elite QB, the stellar running game, dynamic receivers, the best offensive line in the nation, and not to mention a defense that feels as talented and as deep as any we've seen in Ann Arbor, possibly ever.

What else do you need?

Oh yeah, and they've proved that the bench at the head coaching position is pretty damn good too – something we've all assumed but was proven these last two weeks with Jesse Minter, Jay Harbaugh and Mike Hart all stepping up to lead Michigan without skipping a beat. Sherrone Moore will wrap up Michigan's head coaching carousel as Jim Harbaugh finishes his self-imposed 3-game hiatus from gameday team activities.

But this is what the great teams in college football do. This is what it feels like. Sustained success is the key to building an elite program, and that's what Michigan is now. I hate to say it, but anything less than a Big Ten title and at least playing for a national championship will be felt as a failure for this team. With success comes expectations.

Photo: Brad Muckenthaler

Any doubts that remain about Michigan being an elite program worthy of their 2nd-place ranking are just completely unfounded. All you need to do is look at the first 3 quarters of both opening games to see that they've been completely lopsided with Michigan outgaining their opponents 786 to 222 and outscoring them 65-0.

Part of the lower scoring is obviously due to pulling the starters early, but the other factor is the new rule that keeps the clock running after first downs – there's just simply less time for the offense to score points. 

Through the first two games, Michigan has only had 9 first half drives. In 2022, they had 15 first half drives. In total, games are just shorter now (but we're still getting in the same amount of commercials, of course). So drives matter more than they did before, which is tough for opening games when you're trying to get meaningful snaps, all the while trying to keep starters safe and getting backups some game reps.

Photo: Brad Muckenthaler

Photo: Brad Muckenthaler

Zero concerns about the running game right now. I think the offensive line is still figuring some things out, plus both opponents so far really sold out to stop the run. We know what Blake and Donovan can do once they get going. It's really just a matter of time – and teams will also need to respect McCarthy as a passer more as the season goes on (he's currently grading out as the top passer in the country, btw).

The preseason (let's be honest) wraps up under the lights for the 13th night game at the Big House as the Scot Loeffler and the Bowling Green Falcons make their way about an hour up 23 north. Go Blue!

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