Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines picked a very good day to turn in a dominant performance at home against Wisconsin. A 38-13 victory over Wisconsin not only is the latest exhibition of an improving Michigan program, but came on the absolute best day possible when chaos was rippling through the college football world.
Before Michigan kicked off, Ohio State had to hold off an upset bid by Minnesota by shutting things down in the second half, and Penn State suffered their second-straight loss in conference play by coughing up a game to Michigan State in the final minute. Although Wisconsin was a viable threat to Michigan, the Wolverines are now one of just two teams that are undefeated in Big Ten play; Ohio State is the other.
The table has been set for Michigan to make things quite interesting in the Big Ten title picture as well as the College Football Playoff picture, although both probably will go hand-in-hand at this point. Michigan is still in the midst of a challenging three-game stretch. Next up for Michigan will be a road game against the Spartans and then comes a home game against Penn State. With the way Michigan has looked, however, the possibility of going 3-0 in this midseason make-or-break stretch looks not only plausible but likely. No game should be taken for granted; Michigan State has a way with the Wolverines and Penn State could still regroup and rip off some big wins of their own.
But Saturday night once again showed why Michigan should not be forgotten about, not that anyone outside of Columbus, Ohio would. Since losing their season opener against Notre Dame on the road (the Irish, by the way, continue to climb up the rankings and are happy to see Michigan continuing to do the same), the Wolverines have continued to get into a comfort zone with Shea Patterson at quarterback. The defense also continues to impress, which was always expected to be the case.
It was fair in the weeks since the Notre Dame game to question how good Michigan really was. given the caliber of the opponents since Week 1 and the road struggles against Northwestern. But a decisive win against Wisconsin should confirm that, yes, Michigan is a team to be reckoned with this season.
The College Football Playoff selection committee rankings are still a few weeks away, but the Wolverines are a lock to be a top 10 team when the new AP and coaches polls come out on Sunday. With No. 6 West Virginia, No. 7 Washington, and No. 8 Penn State all losing, the No. 12 Wolverines should easily move into the top 10 (jumping ahead of No. 2 Georgia might be a reach even though the Bulldogs were rolled by LSU, but we’ll see).
And just think about this; Texas and Michigan each lost in Week 1, and they will both be in the top 10 of the major polls in the middle of October. College football can be funny sometimes, but one thing remains true- you should never write off a team after one loss in early September. Michigan and Texas both still have a lot to play for this season, and the stakes continue to get higher and higher each week.