Ann Arbor — Michigan has built a 5-1 record, is unbeaten in the Big Ten and ranked 12th nationally, but for some, that’s not enough.
The Wolverines have a tough three-game stretch about to begin, starting with No. 15 Wisconsin at Michigan Stadium for a night game and then at Michigan State next week and then Penn State at home coming off a bye. The players have said they will learn plenty about who they are as a team during this stretch, but they also feel they have proven plenty already.
Still, there are those who question just what have they accomplished. After all, the Wolverines have played some middling to not highly regarded teams. That take is not accepted among the players, who have won five straight since losing by a touchdown at Notre Dame in the season opener. Among those wins was a gut-check comeback from a 17-point deficit at Northwestern.
“It’s easier said than done,” Michigan linebacker Devin Bush said of winning games. “It’s college. Everybody has athletes in college. Everybody is good in college, so to be able to beat teams in college is hard.
“We was in a dogfight with Northwestern and Northwestern ended up beating Michigan State (last Saturday). It just speaks for itself when you’ve got to go out there and you have to win the game. You can’t just say, ‘Oh, we’re supposed to beat them.’ You’ve got to win it, first.”
The players said they understand there will be those who also question wins and second-guess records and schedule strength.
“There’s always going to be people knocking what we do on the field and the success we’ve had,” fullback Jared Wangler said. “I think some of those teams are pretty solid. They were well-coached teams.
“What we’ve done on the field shows we’re going in the right direction, and we’re really starting to gel at the right time, and I think that’s what’s most important is coming in here and getting a marquee win against a ranked opponent. That will be big for us Saturday, a nice test to really show where we’re at as a team.”
Receiver Grant Perry said they know the team is always being critiqued.
“We’re aware of that, but a win is a win,” Perry said. “We’re trying to get as many of those as we can, so we’ll take it however it comes.”
A win is a win, but some resonate more in terms of the upcoming College Football Playoff rankings. The Wolverines knows how important these upcoming games are.
“This is the beginning of it,” Bush said. “This is the part of the season it defines your whole season, what your team wants to do.”