Best of the Week: MLive readers mixed on Michigan Wolverines' chances for Big Ten title
The weakness of the Big Ten teams is well documented this season, and it's exactly that trait which will allow Michigan to remain in the hunt for a league championship despite suffering two losses in its first four games.
The Wolverines' solid defensive performance last week was for naught as Denard Robinson threw four interceptions and lost a fumble en route to a 13-6 loss to Notre Dame.
Now, they get an early bye week as conference play begins, and MLive Wolverines readers are confident they can rebound to have a successful season including, potentially, a trip to Pasadena.
Yet Nebraska seems to be the current favorite to get the Rose Bowl bid.
"I don't think (the Cornhuskers) will lose more than 2 games in conference but should beat at least one of Michigan or Michigan State," wrote ren. "Right now, I see them beating both. ... I saw 8-4 (for the Wolverines) before the season started, 9-3 at best. Frankly, I don't care about Michigan winning the B1G or not this season in part because of my preseason expectations. My thing this year is beating as many rivals as we can, but particularly MSU."
As the Wolverines proved against the Irish, however, the offense's struggles can deep-six the best of efforts by the defense. It's not just about what Robinson does under center; there are simply no other real threats aside from him.
"The 'big target' receivers are all averaging well under 3 catches a game," OriginalSECFan pointed out, "and that's including 2 games against teams with no defense! hardly a threat unless they score TDs on each reception. We all know the passing issues. And for running the ball, outside of DR, it's essentially non-existent. That's a awful lot for the suspect defense to make up for. UM still has three games against ranked teams, 2 of which are away. UM's and DR's historical play in those types of games does not bode well."
There are plenty of others who think Michigan's chances have nothing to do with the defense, special teams or anything else. For them, it's all about Denard – which can be a precarious proposition.
"That defense right there (against Notre Dame) is decent," xtr said. "UM gave ND 6 extra offensive balls and the defense held ND to 1 TD and 2 FG's. That is very decent at the least and will be better as the season goes on and is not supposed to be a concern at this point now. That fake QB is the real problem of this team and whole nation already knows it and all of the teams in the sched already knows how to beat it. Denard Robinson is an enigma, he is super good against weak teams and super bad against decent teams and has pulled the whole team down with his turnovers, 5 of them in that game."
There's no overlooking Robinson's poor performance against the Irish, but it's obtuse to lay the blame solely at his quick feet. Look no further than the quarterback's mastery of Notre Dame in 2010 and 2011, both Michigan wins.
Because of his explosive ability, some Wolverines fans are hanging onto hope.
"Hoke is going to play the QB that he feels gives UM the best chance to win," azwolverine1 wrote, "and it's hard to argue with the fact that DR dominated two good defenses just last year (Nebraska and OSU) and has the capability to do it this year, too.
"I know it's hard to see after such a terrible game, but I still think UM will turn out to be among the top teams in the conference (for whatever that's worth) and challenge for the B10 crown. Like it or not, that's Hoke's stated goal for each season and it's still within reach."