The No. 6 Michigan Wolverines hit the road for the final time this regular season as they head off to College Park to face Maryland.
The Wolverines are currently 9-1 and so far this season, they have written an incredible story of redemption. Before entering into the 2021 season, there was a lot of hesitancy in season predictions across the fanbase and college football pundits. There wasn’t a lot of knowledge about the identity of a Michigan team that went 2-4 the year previous. It might not have been out of place at the time to say giving Michigan enough wins for a bowl game was generous. People didn’t know where to put the Wolverines, who took that as a challenge. They had to change their story and make people believe they were capable of something much more.
I predicted at the beginning of the season the Wolverines would come up with an 8-4 record, and obviously I am glad that wasn’t the case. They have surpassed my expectations and I think Cade McNamara put it into words for me perfectly; this is a team that’s seeking to do what others before them didn’t. I am still teetering on whether or not they have what it takes to take down OSU at home, but that’s for next week’s me to worry about. For now, let’s look back at moments in the season that defined the identity of this Michigan team.
The Wolverines performed as we had hoped in their out of conference games, but even that wasn’t enough for everyone to buy in. Then they kept winning. When they beat Wisconsin, I realized I didn’t give them enough credit before the season started. That was a really impressive win to me, especially because what the Wisconsin game has come to mean in the past few years. Despite the Badgers starting off shaky, they have vaulted to the top of the Big Ten West, which makes Michigan’s win more credible. When was the moment you realized there was something different about this season?
There were two instances where I bought in, and it started with watching Michigan’s backfield succeed over and over again. Then when there was an outcry for a passing game and the Wolverines obliged. It made me realize they actively listen to what we have to say. This has to be true of other seasons, but with the amount of talk after 2020, there had to be a complete 180 on Michigan’s part, and so far they have delivered. Even in their one loss this season to MSU, seeing McNamara throw over 300 passing yards in a road game was enough for me to stay the course. Michigan has delivered a redemption season through 10 games, and it’s not over yet. What do you think Michigan has done well this season? What more do you want to see from them?
Vying for the top of the Big Ten East seemed a little unrealistic over this past offseason, and now here we are. There are still obvious factors that need to come into play for the Wolverines to emerge on top. It’s unfortunate we have to rely on OSU this weekend to aid in Michigan’s Big Ten Championship game hopes, but if the Wolverines can take down the Buckeyes it would be worth it. Regardless of what happens in the upcoming weeks, Michigan has exceeded all my expectations so far.
I know fan narratives revolve around successful seasons being measured by beating rivals and winning bowl games. Therefore, I know there are still some things to fall into place for this season to be deemed successful, despite bouncing back to a winning record. It makes sense this season might not mean much if we drop another loss to OSU. Aside from this point, how are we feeling about this team heading into game 11? Have your expectations changed since they’ve made it this far? What’s still on the table for this team in your opinion?
All bets are off for me. I think they head into rivalry week 10-1, which is two more wins than I expected in my preseason predictions. This season has felt like it has a similar energy of the 2018 revenge tour year. While we didn’t beat MSU, which would have definitely helped with a complete redemption arc, the Wolverines are still could pull off what 2018 didn’t. The only hesitancy I feel now lies in the let downs of the past.
I bought in for the 2018 season and had my plans to go watch Michigan in the CFP. Obviously that came crumbling down in one swift motion. It feels like that moment has returned, but if the Wolverines want to prove they are actually different, there’s one game that could prove just that.
The Maize and Blue have one more game to get through before their biggest game of the season. Maryland won’t be overlooked this weekend because of how crucial this win is for the Big Ten East race. Stalling out now isn’t an option and they will get the job done. That leaves the question of whether or not this team has what it takes to get over the hurdle that has alluded them for so long.
I think Michigan has done exceptionally well this year, but honestly the bar was low for me at the start. It’s necessary to give them the credit they deserve no matter what happens in the next two weeks. The Wolverines produced another winning season and the next two games have the ability to put an emphasis on a stellar tale of redemption. How do you think this story will end for the Wolverines? Do they have what it takes to win out? Let us know in the comments!