Watch out, Big Ten. Michigan is not going to be an easy win this season. The Jim Harbaugh Era is off to a 3-1 start with three straight wins as the Wolverines enter Big Ten play next week looking to be one of the most improved teams in the country. The latest show of improvement came at home Saturday afternoon against No. 22 BYU (2-2). For the third straight week, Michigan held its opponent to fewer than 10 points in a win, this time running all over the Cougars in a 31-0 blowout.
Michigan has outscored its opponents 94-14 since losing the season-opener at Utah in Week 1. The Wolverines were turnover-free against BYU and the offense continued to let the running game set the tone. De’Veon Smith rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown, although he left the game in the second half with what appeared to be a foot injury. Fortunately this was more of a precautionary move from the Michigan medical staff, as the home team had this one well under control in the second half anyway.
Michigan does have room to improve in the passing game, although Iowa transfer Jake Rudock has continued to prove worthy enough of starting in Ann Arbor. Rudock may not be the most cunning of passers, but he seems to be a decent enough fit for an offense that simply needs a quarterback who can make a few good passes while letting the running game lead the way.
It would be premature to suggest Michigan is ready to go toe-to-toe with either Ohio State or Michigan State, but the early signs from this young season heading into the month of October suggest Harbaugh is having a positive impact on the program’s direction. Michigan is ahead of schedule with regaining its familiar form. Even the opening loss at Utah had some signs of change to hang a hat on.
Michigan will look to go for a fourth straight win next week in primetime at Maryland. The way things are rolling for Harbaugh’s program now, Michigan could potentially be sitting at 5-1 when Michigan State visits Michigan Stadium on October 17.
As for BYU? Well, we can now forget about including the Cougars in the playoff discussion toward the end of the season.