Michigan football used to stand for something, you know?
College football has always been a dirty game. Underhanded no-goodniks like Jim Tressel and his ilk spent years weaving a sweatervest of lies, trying to convince us that they had the convictions of their morals as they did such heinous acts as lying to the NCAA about something incredibly stupid, or giving star players preferential treatment to help them win football games.
Well, that's not Michigan! Not the Wolverines! They always did things the right way, the moral way, not because they had to but because of the rose-scented farts that true Michigan Men could gleefully inhale every time the Wolverines lost to Michigan State, Ohio State, or ranked teams in general.
I guess that got old. Yes, Michigan started winning again, but at the cost of their very soul. Players getting to play despite gun charges. Assistant coaches allegedly committing computer crimes. Hiring ridiculous weirdos without doing even a cursory check of their social media. Legendary "upstanding" head coaches being exposed as total frauds.
And now... burgers.
Will Michigan stop at nothing in their pursuit of victory? Is having a good or even great team really worth the ossification of the bedrock upon which their smug superiority is built? How many burgers, Jim? How many burgers until Michigan is just another massive College Football Brand, willing to do whatever it takes to get rings and trophies, indistinguishable from the unwashed masses in Columbus and East Lansing?
Michigan's offense, which their fans should not take in pride in whatsoever because they are a purely mercenary bunch with no love of either their university or the game, returns basically everybody that matters.
You already know the biggest offenders here. J.J. McCarthy returns as quarterback, and I still haven't decided if he's Actually Good or not. He was last seen losing the College Football Playoff semifinal for the Wolverines by throwing two pick-sixes, but that also existed in tandem with a couple of frankly incredible runs and a completed bomb or two.
A version of McCarthy that doesn't make incredibly stupid decisions exists; we saw it in the Ohio State game. A version of McCarthy that consistently completes 65% or more of his passes against good competition probably doesn't, but also: who cares, they have the best running back tandem in America.
If Blake Corum, who ran for 1463 yards on almost 6 yards per carry despite missing essentially the last three games of the season, and Donovan Edwards, who gashed Ohio State for almost 10 yards per carry, are both healthy, then that's basically it for the gameplan. I guess wide receivers Cornelius Johnson and Roman Wilson technically exist. Doesn't matter. The biggest concern this offense will have for most of Michigan's godawful schedule is a running clock on 1st downs.
Oh, and the offensive line might be the best in the country. Right guard Zak Zinter in particular is scary as hell, and will be rolling down on hapless linebackers approximately 89305120923 times this season.
It's good! Maybe even great, as Michigan has a lot of potential on the d-line (Kris Jenkins seems poised for a breakout year), excellent linebackers (Junior Colson had over 100 tackles and 6 tackles for loss in 2022), and if they can find a cornerback to start opposite of Will Johnson, they should be set until the very end of the season.
On the other hand, I occasionally watch football games instead of just making fun of them on the internet. It's great for the Wolverines that they return almost 80% of their total defensive production from last season, but in their last three games of 2022 Michigan gave up nearly 1500 yards of total offense. And before you scoff "well yeah, against Ohio State and TCU", remember that the third team in that equation was Literally Purdue, who put up 456 yards on them.
Point is, they can get got, especially in the passing game. How much the previous incarnation of their defense matches with their current needs remains to be seen, but it'll be especially interesting to see how opponents attack a Michigan defense that remains largely intact from last year with a ton of film on them. It may not matter at all, given that the Wolverines don't play a team with a pulse until essentially November, but teams like Maryland and Minnesota might jump up and bite them in the ass a little harder than expected.
MATT WEISS DRAMATIC REENACTMENT OF THE WEEK
It's HIGH. It really should be SEVERE, given the outcome of the previous two The Games, but I'm hedging and also need for this rating to go somewhere during the season. On the other hand, if Michigan comes out and wins their first three or four cupcakes by 40 points each, my hand will be forced.
It is deeply annoying to have to admit that Michigan has a national championship-caliber team, but the great thing about Ohio State is that have the perfect opportunity (as always) to ruin everything.