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How Washington considers Michigan their biggest game

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This is a must-win game for a Washington team that was ranked No. 20 a week ago.

NCAA Football: Western Michigan at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Things did not go as planned for the Washington Huskies Week 1 — they were not supposed to lose to the Montana Grizzlies, but that’s precisely what they did.

The offensive line couldn’t protect redshirt freshman Dylan Morris, who threw three interceptions, and the rest was history — Washington lost 13-7.

Washington’s loss was talked about nationally, and it painted the program in a bad picture, it was the kind of loss that can lead to opposing teams taking Washington a little less seriously.

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh has been trying to drive home the message to his team this week that they shouldn’t read too much into Washington losing to Montana.

“That game really is irrelevant,” Harbaugh said on 97.1 The Ticket on Tuesday. “I think our team knows.”

Michigan and Washington were supposed to play in 2020 in Week 1, but the game never came to fruition due to the pandemic and the Big Ten implementing a conference only schedule. The game a season ago that wasn’t to be was gearing up to be a highly anticipated tilt — point being, Michigan and Washington have been aware of one another for quite some time at this point.

Harbaugh said that he knows Washington considers the matchup versus Michigan to be their biggest and the one they have made a major point of emphasis. And Michigan players have made Harbaugh aware of some of the things they’ve heard through the grapevine.

“They’ve heard from friends, because they’ve told me — that Washington considers Michigan like their biggest game. They’ve been preparing for it all camp. They’ve been preparing for it all summer,” Harbaugh said. “That’s the one that they had circled. That comes from guys on our team that know other guys that they know.”

A lot of teams come into Michigan Stadium treating that game like their biggest of the season, that just comes with the territory of being one of the biggest brands in college sports along with the biggest stadium.

“I think they realize, like a lot of teams, that happens here. That game last week isn’t indicative of the type of team Washington is, or how they prepare for the Michigan Wolverines,” Harbaugh said.

Washington led the PAC-12 in total defense a season ago, and played fairly solid in the Week 1 loss. The defense can play, but their offense has major question marks heading into Week 2. The receiving corp is banged up, their offensive line needs to get it together in a hurry, and their quarterback has to stop turning the ball over.

“They know where they’re at, they go back and work on the things that they need to improve and they will,” Harbaugh said on Monday. “It’s a race to make those improvements in one week. Got a good idea that Washington has been preparing for us for a long time.”

Washington and Michigan will square off Saturday night (8 PM ET) on ABC.