Was it as bad as we think?

Submitted by TK on September 4th, 2018 at 11:52 AM

I was at the game and it felt like a train wreck. However, watching it live you don’t see as much as you do when you watch the tape. I finally got a chance to watch the game. I came away thinking it wasn’t quite as bad as I thought at first. There were so many plays here or there that could’ve made a huge difference. I don’t feel like Notre Dame outclassed us at all, it certainly wasn’t like 2014. The problem is, every single big game we have feels like the same thing. One play or two plays or a handful of plays here or there that the other team makes and we don’t make. Does anyone feel any better about this game after letting it brew for a couple days? Or is the sky still falling? I’m not really sure what to think at this point. 



September 4th, 2018 at 12:48 PM ^

I mostly agree, but I wish I could get back that patch of hair I pulled out of my scalp when we opened the second half with a delay of game penalty. I had managed to stay composed until then.


September 4th, 2018 at 1:22 PM ^

We've lost four games in a row but it's not as bad as we think?

I'm not quite sure what it takes for some posters to come to grips with the reality that things right now are NOT good.  And our predictable over-reaction negatively immediately after the game ends is now being replaced with our even more predictable rationalization that things "arent really that bad" counter reaction.

We have no tackles.   We cant open up holes for the running game and cant hold off a pass rush.  7-5 is a very real possibility (although I still remain hopeful we'll get to 9-3) given the murderous schedule we've allowed the B1G to shove down our throats coupled with the insanity of scheduling Notre Dame away as our opening game. 

Our last road win against a team ranked in the top 20 was over 12 years ago.  We're 0-17 in road games against good teams and I saw absolutely nothing Saturday night that gives me any reason to believe the MSU, and OSU games will change that streak this year. 

Two days later the board is back to it's normal cheerful optimism and the people who predicted we'd go 14-0 have simply lowered their expectations to a now, much more reasonable, 13-1.  Sorry I cant join you guys in the happy club.  I'm fucking scared to death of what this season could turn into.

Yes, to me it's every bit "that bad". 


September 4th, 2018 at 1:33 PM ^

10-2 +/-2 is Michigan Football and has been Michigan Football for 60 years now, outside of the Rich Rod and Hoke seasons.

Harbaugh has already rebuilt a foundation to meet that expectation year in and year out. Don't believe me? In year four Hoke lost that same game 31-0. Under Harbaugh we were down 14-0, and 21-3 then he had our team back in it with 2 mins left and the football. Same situation as Ohio State last year. 

How can anyone have endured 2008-2014 and think this is "that bad."


September 4th, 2018 at 7:33 PM ^

We would win 8 games or fewer under Lloyd Carr and Gary Moeller all the damn time. Like 9 times total in ~17 years. We won 8 games or fewer more half the time between Bo retiring and RR. Bo himself won 8 games or fewer ~8 times, nearly half of his tenure. 

And 90% of those seasons were in weaker Big 10s. Y'all are nuts to expect so much more than we've ever had.


September 4th, 2018 at 1:43 PM ^

Fair question and I have an answer.  Because 2008-2010 I had hope this cool new system would work if given a chance (at first) and only realized very late in the game that it just wasnt going to happen.  2011-2014 I knew we had a buffoon for a head coach so I never really believed things were going to get better.

2015-2018 Michigan is led by argueably the best head coach we could hope to find.  But since Iowa, 2016 we are 9-9 and have lost our last four.  The trend line is horrible and I honestly dont think we'd be able to find anybody better than Harbaugh so where do we go from here?  

I honest to God dont get how anybody could look at our current recruiting, out on field results and not be terrified of what lays in front of us.  But hey, I smoked for almost 30 years knowing full well each cig was killing me a little bit.  The human brain can rationalize almost anything when it has a desired outcome (in my case that cigs werent really THAT bad).

EDIT: Just read the post immediately above this one and need to make 100% sure that everyone understands one thing.  I am NOT mad.  As a matter of fact my wife said to me when the game ended Saturday night "wow, you're taking this well.".  It's because i'm sad, not mad, at where things are right now and what our immediate future holds.

I'm really, really sad.


September 4th, 2018 at 1:54 PM ^

There's a reason I said before the season that the team needs to win big this year. They still do and they still can. 

If they don't, we will hover more in the MSU-Iowa range for a long time. That will be our ceiling. Another mediocre recruiting year will not be good, and if the team goes 8-4, there's a pretty good chance that we will lose more 4/5-stars from our current class than we will gain, and that means we're about to enter a prolonged period of meh.

Next year is not a washout. The DL will likely not resemble its former self, but there's a good chance that we will be quite solid at LB and DB with Don Brown continuing to produce a good unit, and I am actually optimistic that we'll have a good offense with a plus offensive line next year (interior should be fabulous, the tackles we're kind of hoping are ready to go by halftime against WMU will have a year more experience, and except for Gentry, Perry, and JBB every player that was on the field when Shea went out will be here and a year better and they looked pretty good considering the circumstances). 

But I don't think our team will be good enough to make the playoff next year, and that's really what Michigan needs to do to get recruits to believe in the program again.

Something like a Rose Bowl this year can do that, still.

Technically speaking the team can afford a loss to Wisconsin if we win the division and beat them in a rematch in Indy; narratively speaking that is a tough ask. If Michigan doesn't go at least 2-1 in that three game Wisco-MSU-PSU stretch we're staring disaster in the face and the OSU game on the road with Nick Bosa staring down our left tackles becomes the kind of desperate must-win long-shot that you never want to face.


September 4th, 2018 at 2:00 PM ^

"It's because I'm sad, not mad..."

Man. That sums it up pretty perfectly for me. Maybe it's because I am older, too, and not nearly as fiery about games as I used to be, in my 20s and 30s (the 2005 OSU game in AA and 2006 game in Columbus nearly broke me), and yeah, a lot of it is the constant losing of big games, which lowers expectations...but yes, I'd have to agree with this assessment. 


September 4th, 2018 at 2:16 PM ^


I am beginning to understand Brian's "The Story" post a little bit, and it is kind of relevant to what you are saying.  Not to get too existential on you, but I have thought about these questions the last year, and the last few days especially, as they pertain to myself. 

Is college football only good for you if we make the Playoff, go undefeated, etc, or do you still enjoy watching Michigan football if that is not the case? 

Is it really that you want us to win that much, or is that you don't want to listen to what people say about us when we lose?  Can you tell the difference between the two anymore?

I don't think that people are trying to be "happy go lucky" and say that the team is going to be super good despite this loss, but I think a lot of people are beginning to ask "why do I need this thing to happen so much" in order for me to enjoy this.  And if it isn't enjoyable if this thing or that thing doesn't happen (things that may happen only sporadically or infrequently), than what really is the point?  Will it really be so different once that thing happens.  And for how long?

I think that a lot of people are just running out of ways to be mad and sad, and really don't see the point anymore.  We are either going to win games or we are going to lose them, and most Michigan fans are going to keep being Michigan fans regardless.  Ultimately, it is completely out of our control.  We might just be this.  The last 20 years would indicate that this is just what we are. 

There will come a day where we beat Michigan State, there will come a day when we beat Ohio State.  It is going to happen at some point.  It literally "has to" happen, things ebb and flow.  It could still happen this year.  But when that day comes, not a whole lot is going to change.  We will just play them again the next year.  At this point, I want this team to beat everybody but being mad or sad doesn't have any impact on that.  And I love college football, there is no reason for it to make me sad.  If it does, I am going to stop watching it, and I don't want to do that.


September 4th, 2018 at 6:11 PM ^

Many of your questions seem unanswerable because if you answer them, you have to give something up. If I say yes, winning is the only thing that makes it fun to watch Michigan football, I may have to give up watching. But if I say no, the fun of watching doesn't lie in the outcome, then I have to give up the drive to succeed. As a result, I find myself thinking less and less about Michigan football and on game day, even less if we're not doing well, like last Saturday. I left my husband to watch by himself. I'm not committing to either answer (the above yes or no), but I really hate being disappointed week in week out. 


September 4th, 2018 at 8:30 PM ^

Part of the joy of sports is the journey.  Every year is the same, you cling to the hope this year will be different.  Fans are still clinging to the hope that this loss does not mean the end of the season and there is still a chance.  

Hope is the best of things and part of the ride!  Enjoy it!


September 5th, 2018 at 9:32 AM ^

But it really isn't the fan's drive to succeed.  There is nothing we can do as fans.  I guess I feel like the Playoff format and the exclusive focus on that has taken a lot of the fun out of college football, for fans and players alike.  I no longer equate college football with a happy state of mind, and frankly, I don't see the players having a whole lot of fun either, due in part, to the expectation of fans and media.

You see so much of this "Harbaugh has to or must do" this certain thing by this certain time or he is a failure.  Or you hear about how much of a "trainwreck" he has been so far at Michigan.  And to take a phrase out of his response to Braylon Edwards, "it just isn't factual, it isn't true."  No, we haven't won a lot of big games thus far in his tenure, but we have won some of them, and the fact that we have even been playing in "big games" to begin with speaks to a higher quality product than we were treated to for the previous 8 years before that. 

And the local media has a real sneaky way of taking all of Harbaugh's successes away from him through crooked narratives.  We beat a Penn State team that went to the Rose Bowl by 40 points.  We beat a Top 25 Colorado team.  We beat a Top 5 Wisconsin team at home.  We beat a ranked Florida team last year to begin the season.  The fact that neither of those Wisconsin or Florida teams ended up being great is irrelevant, their defeat to us is a variable in that equation.  It is impossible to know what those teams would have been if we hadn't beat them.  So now, in the media, essentially us beating teams is now used as evidence that they suck instead of it being used as an indicator that we are good.  That is bullshit.  It is a concerted effort to discredit Michigan.  We are also back to beating routine teams routinely and comfortably.  That wasn't true four years ago.

For nearly all college football fan bases, being "relevant" is enough.  And you are not just relevant if you are playing in the Final Four at the end of the season, you are relevant if you are playing in 3-4 marquee games each season, which we are this year.  It was silly for us as a fanbase to assume that it was "death star" or bust.  It arose from a lack of understanding as to what this program has been, and what it is capable of being. 

Fifteen years ago, a loss to Notre Dame on the road at the beginning of the season was not a "referendum" on a coach or a team.  It was just a tough loss.  That is how I am viewing that game.  It was a tough loss, but it doesn't have to "mean" anything aside from that.


September 4th, 2018 at 2:36 PM ^

I honest to God dont get how anybody could look at our current recruiting, out on field results and not be terrified of what lays in front of us

0-1 and counting

Even the worse case of 8-5 this year, that is the best four year stretch in over a decade.

2016 - 8th ranked class
2017 - 5th ranked class
2018 - 22nd ranked class
2019 - 13th ranked class and counting

Recruiting is not an issue, or our issue.


September 4th, 2018 at 2:53 PM ^

Yes it is a problem if our goals are something beyond an 8-4ish season each year.  Here are the last 10 National Championship winners and their respective recruiting rankings for the 4 years prior to their winning it all.  With the single exception of Auburn in 2010 the only one close to our current four year cycle is Clemson and they had Deshaun Watson playing QB.


  • 2017: Alabama Crimson Tide (1, 1, 1, 1)
  • 2016: Clemson Tigers (11, 9, 16, 15)
  • 2015: Alabama Crimson Tide (1, 1, 1, 1)
  • 2014: Ohio State Buckeyes (3, 2, 5, 6)
  • 2013: Florida State Seminoles (11, 4, 2, 8)
  • 2012: Alabama Crimson Tide (1, 1, 4, 3)
  • 2011: Alabama Crimson Tide (1, 4, 3, 3)
  • 2010: Auburn Tigers (6, 23, 21, 9)
  • 2009: Alabama Crimson Tide (3, 3, 12, 13)
  • 2008: Florida Gators (5, 1, 2, 12)


September 4th, 2018 at 6:18 PM ^

We are not on the same level of the Alabama Clemson and probably OSU’s of the world and we shouldn’t expect to be at this time. 

If you want to be honest they cheat and put winning ahead of all else including human decency. I’m glad UM is not I that class either 

we lost a tough game on the road to a very good team. Don’t think the sky is falling and season is not lost yet. I understand frustration and being nervous but let it play out

I have gotten to the point where I won’t get too worked up anymore. I know we are no where near an NC level team and it is what it is. Hope we can win some big games.  College football for me is just not that exciting anymore or have much intrigue because I am tired of seeing Alabama win every year but it’s not going to change so not going to let it get me worked up


September 4th, 2018 at 7:08 PM ^

Give me a break with the cheating excuses. Dabo won with what he had and then he started to get the higher ranked recruits. You have to win first, Saban did it. Alabama had recruited about where we've been when Saban took them to 12-2, then he started getting all those number one classes. Recruits like winning, period. We're on a downward slope at the moment and we wonder why we're not recruiting well. 


September 4th, 2018 at 5:35 PM ^

This exactly. There is one group of fans that seems to look at each game and each play in isolation. "If only this play had gone this way," they say, "everything would be fine." There are others who see the same exact mistakes being made over and over again, increasingly reminded that this looks like a rich man's Brady Hoke offense being thrown out there for 14-straight games now, who start to get worried that this might be systemic. 

Neither group is 100% right, but at some point the plays don't go your way because you just aren't very good and aren't getting any better. 


September 4th, 2018 at 6:06 PM ^

It's definitely sensible. At the same time, we just hired the best OL coach in the business, but he hasn't been around that long. OL is notoriously slow to develop, so let's see if we can at least cut down the mental mistakes with these guys. Hopefully, the physical limitations will go away as the multiple talented freshman tackles develop. For now, we're stuck with the only upperclassman tackles (other than Ulizio) on the roster.


September 4th, 2018 at 5:30 PM ^

The idea that recruiting is going well is an even more absurd take than the idea that there are no real negative trends being displayed by the team, that we just keep getting unlucky, etc. 

Everyone knows how recruiting rankings work. A team like Michigan currently has a very small chance of landing any big time recruits (Harrison and Hill--a guy from freaking Tulsa that people think is coming to Michigan LMFAO!!!--are the only long-shots). When the top guys commit to other programs, Michigan's #13 ranking sinks down to #20. Then we've had two years in a row of recruiting like a team that goes 8-4 every year. 

jace owen

September 4th, 2018 at 6:51 PM ^

The only time I found joy in Saturday was watching Ambry take it to the house. The rest of the game was more apathy than anything. 

I think the punt block vs MSU, Iowa, and South Carolina broke me . Yet, I still will watch and cheer and be optimistic.

I'm 41, and weathered the Richrod and Home disasters. I think we have the right coaches but realize we are not Bama or sadly OSU, and feel more like MSU and/or Iowa.

Let's keep faith, and hope to see our boys turn it around.

Go Blue



September 4th, 2018 at 1:45 PM ^

You're right. Since 1990, this program's average season is right about 8-4.

With that in mind, I think fans need to re-calibrate their fandom with regard to Michigan. If the team is 8-4 or 9-3, graduates most of its players and continues to print money from Nike and corporate sponsorships, I don't think I see a fireable offense in that reality. Michigan football fans may not like it or want to accept it, but that's a different issue.


September 4th, 2018 at 5:03 PM ^

Harbaugh is superior to both but Harbaugh has yet reached Hoke's ceiling of 11-2 in 3 years here and this year looks likely under as well.

Yes I'm aware of the strength of schedule differences and all that but you can't say Harbaugh's floor is higher than Hoke's ceiling until he can win at least as many games.


September 5th, 2018 at 2:37 PM ^

That doesn't matter, because we won. Penn state won a shit show against app state...but they won. msu won a shit show against utah state...but it doesn't matter because they won.

Finding a way to win when nothing is going right is part of being great. We won 11 games that year and no one can take that away from us. If Harbaugh wins every single game the rest of the year in ugly and lucky fashions do you think we will all be upset that we have no business in the playoffs or excited that our guys can keep scratching and clawing their way to victories?


September 4th, 2018 at 2:38 PM ^

The problem is that the baseline is exactly what is in question.

10-2 +/-2 was the baseline until Bo died.

However, it is entirely possible that 8-4 +/-2 is the new baseline. Until the 10-2 +2 is a reality, and not just a couple of terrible breaks away, and we are actually winning conference titles...I don't think it's safe to say that we are still at the same baseline.


September 4th, 2018 at 3:03 PM ^

Setting 8-4 +/-2 as the baseline is saying that 6-6 is within reasonable expectation, which is false. I believe Harbaugh has a hard floor of 8-4. It took the worst case scenario (extreme injury issues) to get there.

I also believe Harbaugh will have the program in the right spot when the cards align and we can hit an unbeaten season (something Bo only accomplished once in his 20 year career).

My outlook for this season, 10 wins. Another 8-4 is going to be insufferable do to fan interactions, but just enough on the field because it means we beat one of Wisc/PSU/MSU/OSU. Below that, imo is when I'll sour on our program. Until then, Harbaugh has returned Michigan to the program I've known my entire life. 


September 5th, 2018 at 9:54 AM ^

Saying 8-4 is a hard floor is also false. 

We EASILY could go 7-5 this year. OSU is an extremely likely loss. MSU is a likely loss, we can't perform on the road, or in that rivalry, and always get their best shot. Wisconsin is a legitimate Top 5 team with a ferocious defense to match up with our meek and meager offense. PSU looks vulnerable yes, but they have a good QB and thrashed us last year, so you never know. And Northwestern has a better offense than we do; not sure our offense is capable of cashing in on their sub-par defense.


I'm not saying 7-5 is my prediction; I personally think we beat PSU/NW and finish 8-4. But to pretend it would be impossible to finish 7-5 is moronic. 


September 4th, 2018 at 1:33 PM ^

MSU isnt that good, they got destroyed by ND and OSU last year. They were a couple of plays and thunderstorms away from goind 7-6 or 8-5. Im not so sure they dont lose in Arizona this weekend. It will be a tough game because of the rivalry, but they arent that good I dont think. Lewerke is really overated.