The Wolverine

March 2014

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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M ichigan surged toward its Feb. 23 showdown with Michigan State at Crisler Center deadlocked for first in the Big Ten at 10-3. Had any Michigan fan been offered that deal before the season, they'd have grabbed it quicker than Tom Izzo becomes apo- plectic after a foul call inside Breslin Center. Of course, it's always easy to get greedy. Michigan started out league play at an incred- ible 8-0, with wins at Minnesota, Ne- braska, Wisconsin and Michigan State. Nobody's going to get away unscathed in this league, though. Not when Northwestern can win at Indiana. Not when Penn State can steal one at Ohio State. And surely not when Nebraska can slide innocuously into East Lansing and strut out with Izzhonor in full meltdown. This is a race, a grinder, and a test of survival. Were there disappoint- ments for the Wolverines, in losses at Indiana, Iowa and home against Wisconsin? You bet. If anyone thinks there aren't more swings and misses and bigger drop-offs elsewhere, though, they're not looking around. At this point, the team with the few- est skids on the icy Big Ten road takes it all. If Michigan happens to avoid the ditch when the Spartans come to town, it says here John Beilein's team will secure at least a share of its second Big Ten title in three years. Even if the Spar- tans come in and hold up on the road — like Michigan did in East Lansing — the Wolverines are far from out of it. They finish at Purdue, home against Minnesota, at Illinois and home versus Indiana, teams with an 18-32 record in the conference. Obviously, this year, that guaran- tees about as much as a campaign promise, but the percentages are a good stretch better than when play- ing the top six teams in the league. Meanwhile, Michigan State fin- WOLVERINE WATCH   JOHN BORTON U-M Has A Shot Down The Stretch Head coach John Beilein's team has an opportunity to earn at least a share of its second Big Ten title in three years. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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