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In case you have not heard, Michigan football is back. Sure, they have yet to beat a top-notch team in 2016, but the so-called experts have them ranked as one of the top teams in the nation, so they must be, right? The Wolverines are off to a 4-0 record and have outscored their opponents by an average of roughly 52-14 in those games. Michigan fans have been lining up to buy their new Nike/Jumpman apparel so that they can be prepared to watch their team win the Big Ten and then compete in the College Football Playoff, because that seems to be their destiny. As a die-hard Wolverines fan, I have not been as confident about my football team since 1997 when Charles Woodson led Michigan to the National Championship (screw Nebraska).
There is no question about it, Jim Harbaugh has his team heading in the right direction. He has the Wolverines winning football games (14-3 since taking over as head coach), and the expectation is that Michigan will be competing for Big Ten titles for a long time.
But, what if they stumble?
On Saturday, Michigan will host the undefeated and No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers in what should be the Wolverines toughest game so far this season. The Badgers are coming off of a 30-6 dismantling of the defending Big Ten Champion Michigan State Spartans, and they will be hungry to have a repeat performance this weekend.
My biggest fear as a Wolverines fan is that Michigan somehow loses on Saturday against Wisconsin. Do I think they will lose? Absolutely not, in fact, I think Harbaugh will have his players more than ready for this one and will win 31-17.
But, what if something goes terribly wrong and the Wolverines do lose? What if the hopes for an undefeated season are taken away?
If Michigan loses to Wisconsin on Saturday, there will be no shortage of people piling on to rub it in. Spartan fans will come out of the woodwork to take their shots, and radio personalities like Mike Valenti on 97.1 The Ticket will have a field day. Some will laugh while pointing their fingers at Jim Harbaugh for not having his team prepared. The critics will say that the Wolverines are overrated and that they always have been, despite the fact that this is only Harbaugh’s second season at the helm.
The Big Picture
Don’t worry Michigan fans, the Wolverines are not going to lose on Saturday, but even if they did, they would still control their own destiny in the Big Ten. They could still run the table, including winning at Michigan State and Ohio State, and would then have another shot at the Badgers in the Big Ten Championship game. If Michigan were to defeat Wisconsin in the rematch, it would be extremely hard for the College Football Playoff Committee to leave them out of the Playoff.
Regardless of the outcome against Wisconsin on Saturday, Harbaugh will continue to prepare his players for the next game, because the next game is all that matters in the big picture.