Michigan is now clear favorite to win Big Ten. Anything else a letdown
This is more than a revenge tour.
The Michigan football team is playing mad and aggressive, determined and unrelenting.
The Wolverines don’t just want to play — they want to demolish.
They don’t just want to win – they want to decimate, which is what Michigan did on Saturday, routing Penn State, 42-7, in the Big House.
A revenge tour? That might be underselling it.
The Wolverines want to crush you and your family and everything in their path.
The Wolverines seem to get better every week. They are getting nastier – in a good way. Their confidence and momentum keeps growing.
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But mostly, the Wolverines are getting healthier. Two players who have been hurt, defensive end Rashan Gary and wide receiver Tarik Black, returned for the Wolverines.
Neither made a huge impact in this game (Black had a TD catch brought back by penalty) but that’s like a baseball team getting a couple of All-Stars at the trading deadline.
Think about it.
The nation’s top-ranked defense just added Gary, a preseason All-American who was hurt before the Notre Dame game and missed the last three games.
And this versatile offense just added Black, a tremendous downfield threat who was Michigan's best wide receiver for the first few games of last season.
It’s almost an embarrassment of riches.
The Wolverines have a great defense, a soaring confidence, an undeniable momentum, a nasty disposition and a full complement of offensive weapons – a strong running game, talented tight ends, impressive wide receivers and a mobile quarterback.
This team has improved so much and is playing so well that it’s time to adjust expectations.
After the way Ohio State has been playing (including Saturday's nail-biter against two-win Nebraska), Michigan is the clear favorite to win the Big Ten Conference. Anything less would be a massive letdown.
Anything less than a trip to the College Football Playoff would be blowing a tremendous opportunity.
It's more than safe to think about it.
It should be the expectation now.
It's an attitude
This team plays with such a nasty edge.
Full of emotion and attitude.
There was Donovan Peoples-Jones, doing a wild TD dance, imitating Saquon Barkley, who did the same thing a year ago for Penn State.
It was as if the Wolverines were saying: “Yes, we remember what you did last year. And now, we are going to do the same thing to you.”
A year ago, Penn state scored 42 points, ripped off 506 yards, converted on 57.1 percent of third downs and ripped off six plays that went over 20 yards.
That Penn State game haunted Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown.
This was personal.
And that’s how the Wolverines played.
Michigan came out and set the tone right from the start. Getting sacks. Forcing turnovers. Scoring at will.
The Wolverines were playing at such a high level and wanted to dominate so badly that the Wolverines looked mad, just when Penn State had a positive play.
A first down?
They seemed to get angrier. And play harder, if that’s even possible.
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In a strange way, Black’s injury has allowed a pair of players to thrive in his absence.
While Black has been out, Peoples-Jones has developed and climbed to a new level.
Peoples-Jones didn’t have a TD catch last year, but there he was on Saturday, snagging a beautiful TD – his seventh of the season.
And Nico Collins caught just three passes last year. But he came into the Penn State game as the team’s third-leading receiver.
Still, it wasn’t a perfect game for the Wolverines.
They left some points on the board. And that’s the truly scary part.
This team can get even better.
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