Ten isn't perfect, but still pretty good for Michigan
Ten is associated with perfection.
While that's not true for Michigan's football team, 10 is nevertheless an ideal number for the Wolverines. They will be after win No. 10 on New Year's Day, in the Citrus Bowl against Florida.
The Wolverines are 9-3 overall in Jim Harbaugh's first season as their coach and traveled Saturday to begin on-site preparations for the game. They have had only two double-digit seasons the last 11 years, in 2006 and 2011.
"Ten sounds good," Harbaugh told the crowd at Michigan's season-ending banquet earlier in December. "That sounds like a good number."
It also would represent doubling the Wolverines' win total from the previous season and put an exclamation point on Harbaugh's first year.
"That's all we're focusing on right now – getting that 10th win," quarterback Jake Rudock said after a bowl practice. "Understanding how difficult that is in college football and understanding how good that would be for this program and this university. That's all we're focused on right now."
Center Graham Glasgow, one of three players who was on the 2011 team that won 11 games, including the Sugar Bowl, said he never imagined losing a game during his college career. He understands what a double-digit win total means, and he also knows that's it's something that must become consistent in the Michigan program.
"It sets the bar high and I think that's what (Harbaugh) wants, that's what our team wants," said Glasgow, who like Rudock will be playing his last college game. "We want high expectations because we'll try to fulfill them."
Harbaugh set high expectations this season, demanding plenty during spring practice with four-hour practices, and then a tough preseason camp, during which the team went into the "submarine" -- sealing themselves off for the most part from the outside world and working without distractions.
Michigan opened on the road with a 24-17 loss at Utah, then won five straight before losing to Michigan State when, with 10 seconds left, punter Blake O'Neill fumbled, and the Spartans scored with no time left for a 27-23 victory. The Wolverines lost their second rivalry game, 42-13, to Ohio State, scoring only three points in the second half.
This was by no means a perfect season. And 10 victories won't suddenly wipe away those losses and make it so. But 10 wins would look better on the mantle.
"It stung a lot," senior safety Jarrod Wilson of missing out on a bowl game last season. "For us to not make it, it did hurt. Being 5-7 last season really just wasn't fun. It's not fun losing. This year we did a much better job and I'm proud of this team.
"I hate losing more than I like winning. Losing is definitely not fun at all."
Harbaugh preached this season a common theme for coaches and players – the "next game" mantra. It certainly isn't an over-the-top approach, and as Harbaugh said earlier in the year, "It's just so simple it might work."
With that in mind, Florida is the next game. That's how tight end Jake Butt has approached bowl preparations and facing the Gators.
"We're focused on getting that next win, and it just happens that would be the 10th win for us," Butt said. "It could be whatever number win it is; we just want to make sure we win that next game."
Make it a double
Michigan has had just two double-digit win seasons in the last 11 years:
Coach: Lloyd Carr
2004: 9-3; lost to Texas in Rose Bowl
2005: 7-5; lost to Nebraska in Alamo Bowl
2006: 11-2; lost to USC in Rose Bowl
2007: 9-4; beat Florida in Capital One Bowl
Coach: Rich Rodriguez
2008: 3-9; no bowl game
2009: 5-7; no bowl game
2010: 7-6; lost to Mississippi State in Gator Bowl
Coach: Brady Hoke
2011: 11-2; beat Virginia Tech in Sugar Bowl
2012: 8-5; lost to South Carolina in Outback Bowl
2013: 7-6; lost to Kansas State in Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
2014: 5-7; no bowl game
Michigan vs. Florida
Kickoff: 1 p.m. Jan. 1, Orlando (Fla.) Citrus Bowl Stadium
TV / radio: ABC / WWJ 950
Records: No. 14 Michigan 9-3, No. 19 Florida 10-3
Line: Michigan by 4
Series: Michigan leads 2-0