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Jim Harbaugh And Michigan Are That Good, No Excuses For Loss To Spartans Next Week [BLOG]

By Dan Leach

As Michigan put the finishing touches on an absolute sandblasting of the No. 13 team in the country as dusk set in on Ann Arbor on Saturday night, something that has been on the precipice of becoming clear blasted its way into reality...

Michigan is that good!

I felt good about the Wolverines coming into this season because they signed one of the great coaches in recent football history in Jim Harbaugh, but even in my wildest dreams I didn't think it could happen so soon. The Wolverines were recruiting tremendous talent under Brady Hoke, but not developing it. It has turned around as fast as Jehu Chesson was able to return the opening kickoff for a knockout touchdown.

Michigan is not just winning, it's getting better each and every week and that is a sign what a good football team does. All of the recent national champions -- Ohio State, Alabama and even Florida State -- all got better as the season went on and played their best football when it mattered most.

I thought Michigan would get a big Harbaugh era opening win over Utah, but I was wrong. The team simply had too much to learn and figure out to start on the road in a tough place to play against a team that is obviously one of the best in the country to get that win Week One. Bottom line though, since that seven-point loss to the Utes on opening night, you could make a case that Michigan has played some of the best football in the entire FBS.

Some staggering numbers came out of the Northwestern game show that not only is Michigan for real, it is fastly becoming historically unreal. For starters, the Wildcats were the 5th ranked total defense in the FBS coming in and gave up almost 400 yards of offense. The Cats were averaging almost 250 rushing yards a game in their undefeated season coming into the Michigan game which featured wins over Stanford, Duke on the road and a shutout of Minnesota last week.

Against the Michigan -- second-ranked FBS defense -- the Wilcats had just 38 yards. That is simply incredible.

Michigan recorded its third straight shutout for the first time since 1980 and became the first team in the FBS to do that since Kansas State in 1995. Then there is this absolutely staggering piece of history -- Michigan is the fifth team in AP Poll history (since 1936) to record a pair of 28-point shutouts against ranked teams in a single season. Three of the previous four (1945 Army, 1948 Michigan, 1966 Notre Dame) won the national championship (H/T ESPN Stats and Info).

How about some more?

Michigan has outscored its opponents 177-38 through six games so far this season. The 38 points allowed are the fewest through six games for the Wolverines since 1985 (outscored opponents 148-33). Michigan's quarterback in 1985? Yep, you guessed it, Jim Harbaugh -- minus the Khaki's.

The argument of "Michigan hasn't played anybody" is completely out the window now and I want to make this abundantly clear -- there can be no excuses next week, there can be no talk of it's only year one and Harbaugh still has so much to do to build this team while that might be true.

Where this program is at right now is light years ahead of where it has been for what seems like the longest time, at least since 2006 and maybe even since the late 90s.

At this point with what we have seen from both Michigan and Michigan State -- which is somehow was ranked in the Top Four in the country this week -- anything but a win by the Wolverines at the Big House on October 17 will be absolutely unacceptable.

Fortunes change, programs rise and fall on a dime in college football these days and even though it's only been six games, Michigan has turned that tide. It has shown that it is back, and now it faces its hated rival in what could end up being one of the most anticipated and important Backyard Brawl games in the history of the 117-year rivalry.

A loss doesn't end the world for Michigan and it has become extremely apparent that this Wolverines program is going to have some special times during the Harbaugh era. But a win over MSU turns a special season into what could become a magical one.

There is no reason to think that if Michigan wins this game that they don't have a legit path to the College Football Playoff.

To even utter those words might make some pinch themselves and wonder what kind of hallucinogens you are on, but it would be the truth. With that defense, the improving offense, and with that man on the sidelines wearing a sharpie -- along with the phenomenal staff he has put together especially defensive coordinator D.J Durkin -- anything seems like it is possible right now.

A loss against MSU shatters all of that, as college football is a game of the moment. The biggest question in Ann Arbor in years is can the Wolverines seize that moment and wake up the echoes of what made this program so special in the past. The Spartans are like a heavyweight boxing world champion, they have the title and have earned it, and to get it from them the Wolverines are going to have to simply knock them out.

I will leave you with one more stunning number for Michigan this season. In the once-in-a-generation, three-consecutive shutouts for the Wolverines, they have scored 97 points to their opponents' zero. The last time the Wolverines were No. 1 in the nation.....1997. Coincidence? We will just have to find out.

"Be afraid, be very afraid," said Yoda to thousands of Spartan fans.

Madame Tussauds Berlin Presents New Star Wars Wax Figures
BERLIN, GERMANY - MAY 08: A wax figure of the Star Wars character Yoda is displayed on the occasion of Madame Tussauds Berlin Presents New Star Wars Wax Figures at Madame Tussauds on May 8, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Clemens Bilan/Getty Images)


Next week is going to be something very special!

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