We, as college football fans, felt seduced by the outlandish stats: 502 yards of total offense, 87-yard touchdown runs, 70 percent completions, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Few, however, asked the ever-important question: Against which five teams did Michigan's Denard Robinson accomplish his feats? The answer: a bunch of defensive nobodies.
Stats don't exist in a vacuum—you have to factor in the opponent—but Robinson's numbers while guiding the Wolverines to a 5-0 start were so staggering that the nation had to take notice. In fact, Shoelace secured his place in gridiron lore after last weekend's victory over Indiana; he became the first player in college football history to put up two 200-200 games in one season.
Against Michigan State, however, reality trumped numbers. Sparty is not Connecticut, Notre Dame, Massachusetts, Bowling Green, or Indiana. Instead, Michigan State boasts a defense capable of defending the pass and the run, something the Wolverines aforementioned opposition could not do. In short, Robinson accumulated his gaudy statistics against teams that are defensively challenged.
That said, Robinson, whether justified or not, still sits in the Heisman driver's seat. Chances are, that won't last much longer. Next for Michigan is Iowa, and the Maize and Blue end the season playing Wisconsin and Ohio State. Plus, Auburn's Cam Newton and Oregon's LaMichael James continue to impress...against quality competition, no less.
One could argue that Robinson's performance is simply a case of one bad game. But it's not coincidence that he struggled when facing his first "real" defense. Had DR played more talented squads up to this point his stats wouldn't be bloated...and the nation would not be talking about him.
In the end, Shoelace's statline versus the Spartans—three interceptions, 86 yards rushing—might be the norm from here on out. Gone, more than likely, are the days of 258 yards rushing and near-perfect completion percentages. Why? Because Michigan's remaining schedule involves Big Ten teams, not teams from the Mid-American Conference or the FCS
Conclusion: Face it, college football fans...you've been duped.
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