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Monday Morning Quarterbrews: Expectation adjustment

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Same ole Wolverines.

Michigan v Notre Dame Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Michigan State and Penn State almost lost to Utah State and that school in North Carolina, respectively, this weekend before Michigan even got the chance to kick off against Notre Dame. Unfortunately, both won late while Michigan failed another test under Jim Harbaugh.

The seat isn’t hot, nor should it be, but losing big games has become the rule rather than the exception. Harbaugh is now 0-6 against OSU, MSU and Notre Dame when the opposing side finishes with a wining record (projecting the Irish here).

The Game

That Anna Kendrick gif could fit here as well. This game had all of our favorite flavors of big game loses in the Harbaugh era.

  • botched special teams snap
  • bad offensive line play
  • ghost run game
  • over-aggressive defense early builds a hole

It wasn’t great. Shea was mostly fine, but I’d like to see a more aggressive offense going forward. Then again, we’re in year four of asking for that, so it’s probably beating a dead horse. Maybe the line struggles limit the offense’s ceiling. We saw a couple glimpses of a space based attack, but Michigan will have to open up further to compete in the Big Ten East.

Defensively, Michigan struggled. The overall numbers look really good, but the fact of the matter was Notre Dame scored early and often when it still mattered before going conservative in the second half. The defense got beat and beat itself in every way conceivable in the first half. Bad penalties and worse back-end execution saw the Irish jump out to 14-0 and 21-3 leads before the half ended. Chase Winovich was a psychopath, but the rest of U-M’s vaunted front seven failed to jump off the page.

I do want to say that despite the outcome, I’m excited for this team’s potential still. Shea’s completions and the offense’s successful plays felt differently than last’s — which mostly felt like accidents. I think that bodes well for the future.

Looking Ahead

Western Michigan is next for the Wolverines. The Big House gets a noon kickoff on FS1 for the home opener. The Broncos lost to Syracuse Friday night in a 55-42 shootout. ‘Cuse ran for over 300 yards, hopefully signaling a big day for Karan Higdon.

Michigan will have a chance to bounce back this week and the next (SMU). You’d like to see the team respond over these games similarly to what the 2015 squad did after a home opening road loss to Utah. Over their next five games, the Wolverines would go 5-0, giving up a total of 14 points and pitching three consecutive shutouts at one point. I think this stretch and the Wisconsin win in ‘16 are probably the high points of the Harbaugh era.

If this group can establish some magic over the next month and a half, that could go a long way in preparing for the murder’s row at the end of October.

Dan’s Picks

Rough week last week starting 1-3 (VaTech/FSU pending) so fade away.

Western Michigan @ Michigan -27.5

Georgia Tech @ USF -3

Penn State -9.5 @ Pitt

Clemson @ Texas A&M +13

Kansas @ Central Michigan -7