First and foremost, I want to thank Harley Johnson for all her contributions to the Friday Discussion posts over the last couple years. I hope I can be half as engaging as her.
With the non-conference schedule mercifully coming to a close Saturday night, No. 2 Michigan will likely be 3-0 and, barring an upset, be in the exact same spot in the polls. I wish I could say the schedule stiffens once Big Ten play starts, but that’s simply not the case as Rutgers is first up on the docket.
So what have we learned? The Wolverine offense has been sufficiently dominant, though not as much in the ground game as many expected. The defense has been suffocating, despite playing with predominantly back-ups in the secondary. For Michigan, it’s safe to say we haven’t learned a ton yet this season.
Around the Big Ten, we’ve learned a decent amount since the season began. No. 6 Ohio State is sticking with Kyle McCord as the starting quarterback. McCord has looked pretty good against overmatched competition, but certainly not generational. No. 7 Penn State has been breaking in Drew Allar as starting quarterback, with great results so far.
The Big Ten West has struggled, to no one’s surprise. Illinois, Purdue, Wisconsin and Nebraska have all picked up non-conference losses already, with Minnesota having a chance to join them tomorrow night against North Carolina.
To me, it still feels like this is a three-team conference. If anyone other than Michigan, Ohio State or Penn State challenges for the conference crown, I would be stunned. But what are your expectations among those three? If they were to play today, would Michigan be favored over Penn State in Happy Valley? Would they be favored against the Buckeyes? Both?
Before the season started, I was having a hard time wrapping my brain around Michigan being the Big Ten favorites. I was born in 1994 and remember Michigan’s 2003 victory against the Buckeyes fondly. I then spent my formative years with Ohio State thoroughly smashing Michigan nearly every year (thanks for the break, Luke Fickell). Now on the heels of back-to-back Big Ten championships, were you able to grasp Michigan as the conference favorites in the offseason? If not, is that easier now that Ohio State doesn’t appear to have a Heisman caliber quarterback for the first time in ages?
Nationally, we’ve learned quite a bit as well. Clemson’s golden era appears to be over. The TCU honeymoon came to an abrupt end thanks to a suddenly for-real Colorado team. Florida State and Texas are legitimate CFP contenders. We’ve learned basically nothing about Georgia, USC and Washington.
Before the season started, it felt like this was a national championship-or-bust type of season. Do you still feel that way given the way the national picture has shaped up? If not, would you be satisfied with only a third-consecutive Big Ten championship?
Through two weeks, Michigan has remained relatively stagnant while the landscape has shifted drastically around it. Let us know in the comments how this has affected your expectations as a fan, if at all.