So I think just about everything relating to yesterday's game has been said - it was a tough loss against a strong, determined opponent, one in which UM left points on the field but also one that MSU deserved to win based on their play. Players will be analyzed and graded, playcalling reviewed and tweaked, and coaching questioned. There will be fears about another collapse, laments for lost opportunities, and concerns about the future.
But there is a silver lining in it all, and one that I hope the fans, coaches, and players realize - they are now the underdogs. Coming into this season, people questioned whether UM was ready to take the next step, and they responded by dominating UConn and defeating ND on the road. Against UMass, they let up on the gas a bit and it showed. With BGSU coming to town, UM went out to prove to the world that they were back, and they put up a record-breaking offensive performance. Traveling to IU, it was clear that Indiana was going to throw the kitchen sink at them, and they responded by pulling out a tough win.
While it may have just been me, this week's game had the feel of UMass week a bit - everyone was talking up UM and how they were the favorite, how it would be close but UM would pull out a win at home, Denard was the Heisman front-runner etc. And as we saw, UM was punched in the mouth by a good team and lost. But going forward, UM will be an underdog in every game save for Purdue, PSU, and (maybe) Illinois, and even those will be close. And I for one think that is the best position for this team - to hear how people discount their abilities and potential for greatness.
All week we'll hear about how Iowa is such a great defense and will throttle Denard and the passing game. Later, how Wiscy will simple overpower UM's defense and gash them like MSU. How OSU will simply outclass the short-handed Wolverines into oblivion. How Illinois will bring a dynamic offense to town and just run past the UM defense, Purdue will find a way to pull out the win like they have the past few years, and PSU is still PSU and look out for Joe Pa. And just like against UConn, ND, and IU before them, I expect UM to exceed expectations, to show the world that you can't count out these Wolverines. So while this game will sting for a couple more days, it won't define this season.