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Published: 10/19/2011

Michigan fans may be overreacting

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS COLUMNIST

Ten things I think that I think:

1. Michigan football fans who are muttering "here we go again" after last Saturday's loss at Michigan State are overreacting. You weren't thinking Rose Bowl, were you? Just because the Wolverines spun out after 4-0 and 5-0 starts the past two seasons doesn't mean this year's 6-0 start is about to be fully obliterated.

This UM team might still be struggling to find its legs offensively under a new system, but it is vastly improved on defense and seems far tougher, both mentally and physically, and that makes several more games winnable even though the schedule stiffens. After what the Wolverines have been through the past few seasons, only an ignorant fan would be dissatisfied with eight or nine wins and a realistic shot against Ohio State at home on Nov. 26.

Sure, a loss to MSU is disappointing and four straight to Sparty is disheartening to UM followers, but right now it should be interpreted as nothing more than losing to a very good opponent on the road. It happens.

2. Lots of fingers are being pointed in the aftermath of Dan Wheldon's death in that awful crash at Las Vegas Sunday. The track, the drivers' lack of familiarity with it, the concept of running IndyCar's fragile open-wheel racers on a short closed oval, a grid that seemed out of control from the green flag, and the $5 million bounty that drew Wheldon, a part-time driver in 2011 despite winning the Indy 500 this spring, all are fair targets.

And when you look at the picture of the young and vibrant Wheldon, by all accounts one of the nicest and most popular guys in the sport, with his wife and those two little kids then every rock should be overturned. Because routinely running packs of open-cockpit bullets at 225 miles per hour is a tragedy waiting to happen.

3. I've read and heard those glowing tributes to the late Al Davis and all that he meant to pro football. My take: Davis was interested mostly in what was best for Davis and the Raiders, period. And isn't this the same guy who for much of the last decade ran his franchise into the ground? Just asking.

4. Speaking of the Raiders, they got Mike Brown to finally budge Tuesday on Carson Palmer's trade demand. I figured that when the Bengals' owner got an offer he couldn't refuse -- and this one qualified -- he would fall off his high horse.

5. I can't imagine we'll ever see Magglio Ordonez or Brandon Inge playing in Tigers uniforms again.

6. The battle lines have been drawn in MAC football and providing UT's Rockets tend to business against Miami this weekend, the first two Tuesday nights in November should be dandies at the Glass Bowl as Northern Illinois and Western Michigan come calling.

7. Jim Schwartz of the Lions and Jim Harbaugh of the 49ers are passionate about their game and their teams, but both coaches should be ashamed of their childish behavior Sunday at Ford Field. How they avoided fines by the NFL is a mystery.

8. At 6-1 overall and 3-0 in the Big Ten, Penn State's season thus far is proof that standings reflect only how many, not how.

9. The Cleveland Browns are an unhappy family on the brink of imploding.

10. Not sure what y'all were expecting under the circumstances, but with the exception of some understandable sideline growing pains, Luke Fickell isn't doing all that bad of a job at Ohio State. No way do the Buckeyes beat Wisconsin, but running the table thereafter for an 8-4 season isn't out of the question.

Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: dhack@theblade.com or 419-724-6398.



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