The Michigan Wolverines got a monkey off their back in East Lansing last weekend — beating their in-state rival and ridding themselves of that hideous losing streak to AP top-25 schools on the road, a streaking that dated back to 2006.
Meanwhile, the Ohio State Buckeyes looked completely lost against Purdue in West Lafayette, losing big and falling out of the top 10 altogether.
Jerry Palm over at CBS Sports releases predictions on the College Football Playoff and New Year’s Six bowl games every week, and this week he included the Wolverines in the CFP. Here is his explanation:
“Ohio State has dropped out of the CFP and been replaced by Michigan. The Wolverines won at Michigan State 21-7 and clearly look like the best team in the Big Ten through eight weeks. The Buckeyes are still projected to play in a New Year’s Six game but will take the Big Ten’s spot in the Rose Bowl and face Washington, a 27-13 winner over Colorado on Saturday.”
Palm has Michigan as the No. 4 seed taking on the No. 1-seeded Alabama in the Cotton Bowl.
Sporting News also has Michigan taking on ‘Bama in the Cotton Bowl.
Elsewhere, our SB Nation Mothership pretty much has Michigan at No. 4.
Michigan has looked great, don’t get me wrong, but let’s pump the brakes here for just a second.
We’ve seen this movie before. Michigan hypes everyone up just to let them down later in the season. It happened in 2006, it happened in 2015, it happened in 2016.
I am at an “I’ll believe it when I see it” phase with the Wolverines. As much as I would like them to accomplish all their goals, I cannot put too much stock into that because I have not physically seen them do that before, especially not out of a Harbaugh-led team.
I have followed this team as far back as I can remember. Forgive me, for I am merely a 24-year-old man, so I wasn’t old enough to truly witness the 1997 National Championship. I don’t know what a Michigan championship looks or feels like.
Until I see the Wolverines in the top four at the end of the year, I can’t project them to make it somewhere I have not seen them before.
Does this team appear different in 2018? Yes, it absolutely does. It is a veteran-led squad that has all the talent in the world and has a different swagger to it than the ‘16 team. A different vibe. A sense that this team could do something special. Could beat Ohio State. Could make it to Indianapolis for the first time ever for the Big Ten Championship.
“Could” being the key word in those last three sentences.
This is a steadily improving team. The offensive line has been one of the biggest surprises of the season. The run game, led by Karan Higdon, is among the best in the conference. The passing attack with Shea Patterson under center has been everything you could ask for.
The defense is...the defense. Nuff said.
There are many things to like about the 2018 Michigan Wolverines so far, but let’s not get in a hurry to put them among the best four teams in America. The Revenge Tour is only half complete. There are still two daunting games to go on that tour, with stops in Ann Arbor for Penn State and Columbus for Ohio State still to go.
Call it pessimism, call it stupid, call it whatever you want. But until Michigan finishes what it started, and until I see with my own two eyes the Wolverines are a top four team, I won’t be penciling them in for the College Football Playoff.