Good news, Michigan fans. The Big Ten isn't very good this year. Despite starting 2-2, your beloved Wolverines can still win the Big Ten title.
That is, if they can move forward rather than worrying about humbling losses to Alabama and Notre Dame.
The team has a bye to lick its wounds this week, and then two very winnable games against Purdue and Illinois. It's an opportunity to gain some confidence back before tough games against Michigan State and Nebraska.
If nothing else, there's always the Ohio State game, right?
Michigan's aspirations must remain high. For them to reach those goals, a few things need to happen.
First of all, Denard Robinson needs to be better as a passer. We know he can run like the wind, but he's been throwing like sin. Completing just 55 percent of his passes and throwing eight interceptions to six touchdowns is simply unacceptable.
Nobody expects Robinson to suddenly morph into Peyton Manning. However, his decision making and accuracy must improve. If not, Michigan is going to become far too one-dimensional on offense, which will come back to bite them.
Until they can keep opponents from stacking the box, you'll see Fitzgerald Toussaint's numbers remain modest at best.
Since the shellacking against Alabama (and a too-close-for-comfort game against Air Force), the defense has improved. What's more, had the unit not been given a consistent short field to defend against, they may have held Notre Dame to fewer points.
Therefore, there is hope. A huge part of that stems from the fact that the league is down this year. Even ex-coaches have taken notice (via Adam Rittenberg of ESPN Insider):
"The league obviously is down," said Joe Tiller, who coached Purdue from 1997-2008. "In my 12 years of coaching there and three years since, I don't remember it struggling this much as a conference. It pains me to admit this, but I don't think there's a single great team in the league, and there aren't many good teams in the league, maybe four good teams out of 12."
While that may hurt fans of the Big Ten in general, it's good news for Michigan fans. The league is wide open. A title is ripe for the picking. Forget about Alabama and Notre Dame—beat Michigan State, Nebraska and Ohio State and a trip to the Big Ten Championship beckons.
Michigan will have to go another year without being a national power, but the Wolverines can still stake their claim in the Big Ten.
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