With a Michigan St. win on Saturday, two things that never happen would’ve happened. Michigan St. would’ve been 5-0, ranked in the top 10, and Michigan would’ve been 2-3 firmly out of the top 25 and in danger of finishing under .500 for the season. Instead, Michigan won, and none of that happened. Michigan St. is now out of the top 15 and Michigan is back in the top 25. “Crisis averted” for Michigan and “things back to normal” for Michigan St.
However, things aren’t that simple for Michigan. Michigan St. wasn’t favored over Michigan because of its personnel. If you were to start a team comprised of players from UM and MSU, I’d suspect that the makeup would be something close to 70% UM players and 30% MSU players. Michigan St. was favored in this game because they have a coaching advantage. There’s really no other way of looking at it. John L. Smith has a roster full of players that Michigan didn’t want. Yet, he came into the game favored. So, nobody should be surprised that Michigan won this game. They should’ve won this game just like they should’ve beat Wisconsin and Notre Dame. Michigan “should” beat Minnesota. In fact, they “should” beat everyone remaining on the regular season schedule with the exception of Ohio St.
For many in the media, Michigan running the table to the Ohio St. game will stand as confirmation that Michigan is performing up to standard. I mean, who could argue with being 6-1 in the conference with a chance at another Big Ten championship going into the Ohio St. game? That’s been the UM story since 1997. They underachieve to the point that it ruins any chance at a National Championship and then supposedly make up for it by beating a bunch of teams that they should beat (i.e. Michigan St., Minnesota, Penn St., Iowa). Ohio St. is the only team in the Big Ten right now that has a roster that’s even close to Michigan in terms of caliber of athlete. Despite the fact that Michigan St. was favored, Michigan has by far the better roster. This was the case with Notre Dame and Wisconsin, and it is the case in 80% of the games that Michigan plays.
I fully expect Michigan to “win out” until the Ohio St. game. Michigan will lose and then Lloyd Carr and his players will once again harp on the fact that they “turned the season around” and “entered the final game of the season with a chance at the Big Ten Championship”. Michigan will pound on a mid-tier school in a bowl game only further confirming Carr’s brilliant coaching job this season. Then, Lloyd and Co. will inevitably say, “what more can you ask for?” And I will say, “apparently, nothing.”