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Michigan’s not looking for a statement game, they crave a statement season

Michigan isn’t settling for anything less than a Big Ten Championship

Michigan v Michigan State Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Statement game.

It has a nice ring to it.

But statement games don’t mean jack if you lose one or two other games on your schedule.

“Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes.”

― The Count of Monte Cristo

The good news for the Michigan Wolverines is they’ve been shattered on the rocks this season, they’ve experienced a storm, and they’ve marched right through it. The storm, you ask? Their loss against Notre Dame to start the season.

Since that loss, Michigan has won 7 straight games.

To this point, when Michigan has had a win this season, it hasn’t gotten to their heads, they’re aware there’s still room for improvement and more goals to achieve.

  • They came back from 17-0 on the road versus Northwestern, winning in the final minutes 20-17, one of the biggest comebacks in Michigan history.
  • Shea Patterson’s read-option prowess was unleashed versus Wisconsin in a night game at The Big House. 9 carries, 90 yards, 1 touchdown. Michigan won 38-13. The national media now began to start believing the Wolverines might be for real this season. The result surprised many.
  • Michigan then goes on the road at Michigan State and dominated in the trenches, and for the second week in a row absolutely smother the opposing QB. Michigan wins 21-7. The game also features pregame antics that will fuel the rivalry for years to come. This game was personal.

Each of these example have had the phrase “statement game” attached to the matchup, either before the game or after it.

In recent weeks, Jim Harbaugh has said that every game the rest of the way is a playoff game. He understands the importance of each win, and how devastating even one more loss for the team would be.

This isn’t the Brady Hoke era of Michigan, with all due respect, where fans would be completely satisfied with an 11-2 season, and finishing No. 12 in the country.

The 2018 season isn’t about Harbaugh beating one or two of Michigan’s rivals and everything else being a bonus. This season is about getting to where Michigan players and fans feel they should be, the Big Ten Championship Game and College Football Playoff.

We’ve heard “statement game” going into the matchup against the Nittany Lions, but even if Michigan beats them convincingly, in the ‘what have you done for me lately’ world we live in, they will have to keep proving their worth week after week.

While Michigan’s focus coincides with the current task at hand (whatever team they’re facing), what fuels that focus is knowing where they want to be when the season is over. The same thing can be said about life goals; it’s important to have a vision for your future, but doing your best in the immediate future will greatly impact how your path unfolds. Correlate this philosophy with that of the Michigan team.

Penn State won’t be easy. Indiana won’t be easy. Ohio State on the road will be tough. If Michigan finishes the regular season 11-1, we can start calling this a statement season. But even then, the players won’t be satisfied, anything less than the College Football Playoff would be a major disappointment for them.

Heading into today’s game, Michigan sits at No. 5 in the CFP Ranking, people like Skip Bayless think they could give Alabama a run for their money. But Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan team could care less about any talk like that from any pundit. They don’t want any pats on the back, they want more motivation, and maybe that loss to Notre Dame in week one will serve as all the motivation they needed to improve and go on a revenge tour leading to a Big Ten Championship.

“Fate whispers to the warrior, ‘You cannot withstand the storm.’

The warrior whispers back, ‘I am the storm.’”