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Michigan Football: Why Slow Start Doesn't Spell Doom for Big Ten Title Chances

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 08:  Fitzgerald Toussaint #28 of the Michigan Wolverines looks to get around the tackle of Brian Lindsay #31 of the Air Force Falcons during a first quarter run at Michigan Stadium on September 8, 2012 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Matt WestCorrespondent IISeptember 12, 2012

Heading into the 2012 campaign, the Michigan Wolverines were certainly thinking they had a good shot at a Big Ten Championship and another BCS bowl game. Last year's 11-2 finish was impressive, and with the job Brady Hoke did recruiting and the talent the team already had on its roster, there was reason to believe that would come to fruition. 

The opening dud against Alabama was certainly a setback, but that loss came against arguably the best team in the country. Michigan, even with that influx of talent, was never going to be on that level this year.

Last week's surprisingly inconsistent performance against Air Force has certain legions of people believing this Michigan team was too over-hyped—and just plain not that good.

I believe Michigan still has enough talent to hang with the best in the Big Ten, and even make another run at at BCS bowl game.

Denard Robinson had an impressive showing against Air Force, rushing for 218 yards and two scores. While he did most of his damage on the ground, his passing numbers improved from the Alabama game, as he completed 56 percent of his throws for 208 yards and two touchdowns.

Robinson is never going to hang in the pocket and throw the ball 35-40 times a game. His skills lie in his ability to move the chains with his legs and occasionally use his arm to stretch the field.

What the Wolverines need is help in the run game, and that's where Fitzgerald Toussaint comes in. The 22-year-old running back had a dismal showing last week, rushing for seven yards on eight carries. With his arrest behind him and a struggling UMass team waiting in the wings, he has a chance to regain the form that made him a 1,000-yard back last season.

The run defense for Michigan is a major concern as well, but playing UMass on Saturday will help them begin to right the ship.

Looking up at the Big Ten standings, the Wolverines see Ohio State and Michigan State. While both teams have looked impressive early on, Michigan has proven it has revamped the program.

Not many people had Michigan pegged as a BCS bowl contender last season, and with a turnaround on the defensive side of the ball, this year's squad could make similar moves toward the latter stages of the season.

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