After being handed their first loss of the season, Michigan returns home to take on the Indiana Hoosiers. Luckily for the Wolverines, they remain in the top 10, falling just to the No. 7 spot. This places Michigan in it’s highest appearance in the CFP rankings since 2018, where they were ranked as high as fourth.
The Wolverines were unable to come up with a win against the Spartans, and a lot of questions this past week revolved around the issue of winning big games. While this is typical of every Jim Harbaugh season, was there something different about last week’s loss? I know there is a lot of frustration given Harbaugh, in his time since taking the job in 2015, had gone 3-2 against a Mark Dantonio led Spartan team and has now gone 0-2 against Mel Tucker. Michigan needs to win these games, but this loss might not be as do or die as it could have been. The Wolverines have bounced back from losses like this before, and this season could be no different.
Last year’s loss felt like an anomaly, a “one is a coincidence,” and now dropping a second game means that “two is a pattern.” This isn’t to say the Wolverines have a pattern of losing big games, because last week’s game was arguably one of Michigan’s best games of the season and they didn’t suffer greatly because of it, but it makes sense why there is a cause for concern.
Regardless of the outcome, they are still one of the best teams in the Big Ten and haven’t fallen from postseason discussions. There’s an uphill battle, but after having a week to reflect on it, Michigan hasn’t fallen too far behind. It just means they have to win out.
I think today’s game serves to right the Wolverines after a heartbreaking loss. It’s time for them to dust off last week and charge forward as their season goals are still in sight. The game will be a perfect storm for Michigan, as the Hoosiers are currently 2-6 on the season, with no wins in the conference. While the Hoosiers are desperately searching for their first conference win, the Wolverines should take this one handedly.
What will be Michigan's first steps in getting right? Does it explore more of the playbook? Will they stick to what we have seen so far? I don’t think it’s particularly necessary to deviate from what has worked for the Wolverines all season for the Hoosiers. Their strengths on both sides of the ball don’t call for anything groundbreaking and flashy to get the win. No offense to Indiana, but Michigan will unlikely show its hand in this game. I think getting the win this week serves to pacify a restless fanbase. The end of the world didn’t come because of last week, though it sure feels like it. Michigan still has things to prove and deserve the confidence from us to see that through.
How will Indiana serve to be the first step in getting to Michigan’s end of the season goals? Aside from a win, I think there are opportunities for the offensive line and running backs to work different methods to crack a good rush defense. This practice could allow Michigan to expand upon its different rushing plays. However, this game also serves to see more emphasis on their passing game, much like last week. I think seeing the offense balanced is all the more reassuring moving forward.
Did Cade McNamara’s play help sway how Michigan will fare against its formidable opponents? He played his best game of the season against MSU, throwing for 383 yards and two touchdowns. The talk of the season has surrounded quarterback play, so did his performance against MSU show promise for Penn State and OSU? Will it be enough?
I think this week will see McNamara will have another game to prove the Wolverines have what it takes to win out their season. There’s a mutual understanding among the team about the goals they hope to achieve, and they aren’t completely out of sight yet. Indiana is the perfect stepping stone to regain that mindset for the fans. Building up wins rights the team and the fans, and it all starts with how Michigan does on Saturday.
With four games left in the season and their biggest opponents still on the docket, the Maize and Blue have some confidence to regain, and that starts with what people see on Saturday. I think they will stick with what has worked so far with similar caliber opponents, and that will suffice in getting back to the win column. Will it be enough to move forward or will a win against a ranked team serve to gain more confidence? What do you hope to see from Michigan on Saturday? Does Michigan have what it takes to remain in CFP discussions? Let us know in the comments!