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Why Michigan may not be defined by Ohio State game result in 2018

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Saying Michigan “must” beat Ohio State is too broad a statement, despite the frustrating turn of events in the rivalry.

Ohio State v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

We are inching closer and closer to football and with that comes the return of expectations, prognostications and countless other takes leading into what is a very important season for the Michigan Wolverines on the football field.

The latest question making the rounds on social media comes courtesy of Michael Spath of WTKA’s “Inside the Huddle.” He brings up the question of if the Wolverines have to beat the Ohio State Buckeyes, winner of 15 of the last 17 games in the storied rivalry, this season. This is because Michigan running back Chris Evans said over the weekend that he would consider the season a failure if that does not take place.

Evans’ heart and mind are in the right place here. While the Wolverines have had some valiant efforts and near-misses in recent seasons, the losses that continue to pile up against the Buckeyes cannot continue to happen. But it is not exactly fair to the team to say that one win defines their entire season, as elusive as that game has been in recent seasons.

Every time I hear “Michigan could go 1-11 and as long as that win is against Ohio State, I’ll be happy,” I want to vomit. The Wolverines have not won the Big Ten since 2004. They have won the national title once since 1948. Aim higher.

If Michigan comes into The Game at 11-0 and a loss to Ohio State means they still go to Indianapolis, fine. That probably will not be a scenario that is in play, but that would be a case in which a loss to Ohio State does not make the season a failure. Heck, on the flip side of it, Michigan could have two or three losses of their own heading into Columbus. Whether they win that game or not wouldn’t change the fact that they probably wouldn’t be winning the Big Ten East. And that would be a failure before you even get to that game.

The Wolverines, and Jim Harbaugh, have to start finding ways to win these big games and none are bigger than Ohio State on that schedule. The expectation for Michigan is and should be that the contest on the last weekend of the year has championship implications on the line. If losing that game means they fail to live up to championship expectations, of course that is a failure. If that game does not have anything on the line for them, then the argument can be made that the failing has already been done.

Michigan has an insanely difficult schedule this year and the Big Ten, namely in the East, is absolutely loaded once again. The good news for them is that they are as talented as any of the teams they face and once again the deciding factor is likely going to be a mixture of coaching putting them in positions to succeed and quarterback play that is worthy of getting the job done.

Let’s not sit here and act like Ohio State is some big behemoth that cannot be stopped. Since they won the national title, they have been smacked around in some big games too. Michigan nearly knocked them off last season with the worst quarterback they have had since cameo appearances from Russell Bellomy and a season’s worth of Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan.

Predictions for this group are all over the place right now. Some people feel like they have a shot at the playoff, while others believe they could be the fourth-best team in their own division. Another loss to Ohio State would be unacceptable and disappointing, to say the least, but let’s wait and see how the year plays out before we say in mid-July that it would make the season an unmitigated failure.

Poll

Would losing to Ohio State again make 2018 a failure?

This poll is closed

  • 44%
    Absolutely it would.
    (838 votes)
  • 12%
    No it wouldn’t.
    (244 votes)
  • 42%
    It depends.
    (804 votes)
1886 votes total Vote Now