I don't typically believe in single points of light that teams claim "turned their season" around. Balancing the entirety of many months of work on the head of a nail seems dumb and reductive and also kind of boring; when you're watching a Disney Channel-approved teen sports movie and the coach makes a big rousing speech, you pretty much know that everything after that is perfunctory. The good guys are going to win, the bad guys are going to lose blah blah blah whatever.
I don't think that's how football works. Teams evolve and change over the course of a full season (for better or for worse), and what you see at the end of the last game is a product of all the choices and decisions that came before that.
It's part of what made the 2014 Ohio State championship team so hilarious and amazing to watch: that season wasn't about watching a group of young men become a team, no, a family! after some Tim Tebow inspirational locker room crap. Instead it was more about watching 100ish dudes get repeatedly kicked in the nuts over the course of several months while still managing to cobble together a Death Star out of bits of twine and third-string quarterbacks.
Anyway, a lot of smart football types would have you believe that after halftime against Penn State, Michigan drank Bugs Bunny's Secret Stuff and now they're Good instead of Not Good.
I'm not convinced!
Before I get to my usual pilloring of Michigan, what the hell happened to Maryland?
After they scored a bajillion points in their first two games and captured the hearts and minds of people looking for a secondary rooting interest, they went dark and I assumed that the state of Maryland had been swallowed whole by Fenrir or something, but nope it's worse: they just kind of suck at football.
So yes, Michigan beat them 38-7 in a mostly boring game that felt like it was play-acted by characters in the Truman Show for the sole benefit of... wait, me? Oh my God, am I in some kind of simulation!? Is all of this playing out in some macabre farce for the benefit of a media audience, an audience that takes pleasure watching a dude complain about mediocre football once a week?
Is Shea Patterson consistently overthrowing dudes just for Johnny Ginter? Is Michigan's running game kind of puttering along at 4.5ish yards per carry against a bad defense just so I can make bad jokes about it the net day? Did Michigan have four three-and-outs against freaking Maryland entirely so I would so forcefully roll my eyeballs that they'd fall out of my head and onto the floor?
Oh no, wait. Michigan did one cool thing, at the beginning of the game. Giles Jackson returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown, and that was admittedly extremely badass. It was also badass when Maryland's Javon Leake also did that exact same thing, but his team lost so the heck with him.
Everyone was on auto-pilot during this game, and that's fine! It just doesn't mean anything for The Game, which is what this whole exercise is about. Still, after their week off, they get a rivalry game and then a face-off against a team a bunch of cowards refuse to rank. Win those, and then, well... they might just have something for me not to joke about.
The Threat Level remains GUARDED.