"If we don't go anywhere else, as long as we go to that Big Ten [championship] game and win that, I think that will be a good season," Michigan running back Fitz Toussaint said." - from the article
From a Michigan standpoint anyway, that's a realistic and attainable goal, and to boot, you go to the Rose Bowl as the Big Ten Champion, so I would like to at least applaud Touissant for being very grounded. I think the team realizes that they are only in the second year of this coaching regime, that they are still, to some extent, a work in progress that has produced great results early and often to date. This is actually one of the best things that I think the staff has done - keeping the expectations realistic and reachable, and raising them a little bit at each step. That's one of the more meaningful ways to build confidence and maximize performance, in my mind.
That being said, if we can beat Alabama, then the highly educated folks who vote in the polls each week will be on notice that the Big Ten actually, in fact, has NC aspirations since they seem to have forgotten that over this last drought.
At the end of the day, that should be the "true north", as they like to say in corporate circles (i.e., the ideal), but take care of the other things first (keep recruiting as you have, keep beating the teams you should beat and some that you're not expected to beat, develop talent...it could take some time, to be sure) and, at least in football, you will contend for "true north" sooner than you think, other things being equal, of course (and that, well...polls, perception, and the general BS intervene, it seems).