It was a cloudy and misty day in East Lansing, Michigan on Saturday, a day in which the Wolverines lost to the Spartans 37-33 and the grey sky seemed to be all the more sinister.
The emotions of Michigan fans, their frustrations, were at a boiling point after the loss — but the attitude about the program is much bleaker on the outside opposed to the mentality that exists inside the Michigan Football locker room. For Michigan fans, Saturday marked another loss to Michigan State, something that has become far too common — it marked another loss to a top 10 opponent, another common occurrence.
“How can we grow together from this? It sucks, it sucks from the top down,” offensive lineman Andrew Vastardis said after the loss. “It’s gonna be one of those things where we really just lock arms, grow together. Because a lot of people are gonna hop off the bandwagon, and this season is not over. Not even close.”
Michigan has challenges ahead, but they still can win the Big Ten East. Their goals are still in front of them believe it or not. Of course, that means running the table, beating Ohio State, Michigan can still play for a whole heck of a lot this season — Big Ten Championship Game, the Rose Bowl perhaps, a New Year’s Six Bowl Game, these are things that are still all on the table.
“Tough loss for @UMichFootball, but still everything in front of them,” FOX Sports analyst Matt Leinart said on Twitter. “The Big Ten East will continue to have shakeups. Have to bounce back which I think they will. That’s a very good football team.”
Not dead yet.
“I think we’re still in contention,” DE/OLB Aidan Hutchinson said. “I think we still got all of our goals in front of us. It’s a tough loss, but it’s one that I think we can bounce back from.”
Bouncing back is paramount, and they’ll have to do so in a hurry — there’s no sitting around and dwelling on how crappy Saturday was. Michigan’s veteran leadership helped propel them to their 7-0 start to the season — guys like Hutchinson, Cade McNamara, Josh Ross, Blake Corum — they’ve added much needed juice and energy to the 2021 Wolverines after a 2-4 campaign in 2020.
“We’re gonna stick together. That’s the number one thing for me, no pointing fingers. We’re gonna be a family. Gotta be a family when it’s good, gotta be a family when it’s bad. I firmly believe that. We’ll stick together.”
Sticking together will be key, because they’ll have to scratch and claw without many errors down the stretch.
“This one stings,” McNamara said. “But we have to respond and our back is against the wall now.”
No matter what happens next, Michigan realizes there are things to play for, and although the loss on Saturday was rough, they have a lot to play for — Michigan can still play in a really good bowl if things go their way and they correct what hurt them against the Spartans.
“The season’s not over,” OLB David Ojabo said. “We can’t just take and L and put our heads down. We’ve still got to prepare for the next game. Day by day, see a better day.”