It's one thing to lose on the road to a good opponent. But Wisconsin didn't even play very well. They looked like the middle of the pack Big Ten team that every body thought they were. But Michigan? Oh man. They are looking ugly. Did you know that they are 2-4 in their last 6 games going back to last season and the only 2 wins are against MAC teams? What the f*&^? The last time they beat a BCS conference team was their November win against Northwestern. Since then it's been a bad road loss to Ohio State. A close loss in the Rose Bowl. A stinker at home against Notre Dame. And now a clunker on the road in Madison. And now we've got to go to East Lansing and play a red hot and fired up Spartan team? Oh man. You want to talk about a make or break game. This is it. MSU is going to be a solid favorite at home in this game. They are looking for payback for last year's epic collapse and we're on the ropes right now. What's going to happen? I'm not holding my breath.
So what's going on? Here's my thoughts:
1) Without Jake Long, our run blocking just isn't that good. And while Max Martin and Kevin Grady have some talent, they cannot make something out of nothing like Mike Hart. Without Hart we have zero consistent rushing attack right now. With him? I don't know, but I think things would be drastically better.
2) Chad Henne is playing poorly. This isn't about Braylon Edwards not being there. Henne is just making some bad decisions and poor throws that he didn't make last year. But you know what else? His receivers are not bailing him out right now. It doesn't do any good for the QBs confidence when he hits a wide open Jason Avant in the hands on 3rd and 8 only to have him drop the pass.
3) The defense isn't playing too bad. Wisconsin had some nice drives in the 4th quarter, but those drives were strung together by the skin of their teeth. How many times did they have 3rd and long only to convert by less than a yard? Unless that's how they draw up their plays that has an element of luck to it. Tip your cap because Wisconsin deserved a little luck against Michigan at some point after some of the heartbreak they've endured.
Where does the season stand? It stands in oh boy Lloyd Carr might actually be on the way out the door mode because this is bad. Best case scenario for Michigan: we've been here before. In 1998 and 2003, Michigan had 2 losses early in the year and rebounded to win the Big Ten both times. Worst case scenario: 6-5 regular season isn't exactly out of the realm of possibility right now.
What needs to happen? Mike Hart healthy. He's the difference between winning and losing right now. A healthy Mike Hart and Michigan is 4-0. No way around it. He's that good. The D has played well enough to win all 4 games. The O has imploded. Put a solid ground game out there and suddenly Henne looks a lot better.