ANN ARBOR — Jim Harbaugh has lost 12 games as Michigan’s head coach.
Eight have been played away from Michigan Stadium.
Saturday’s jaunt to Evanston, Ill., to play Northwestern is another opportunity for the Wolverines (3-1) to continue their progression from overrated to Big Ten contender. In the process, they can win their first game outside the Big House in four tries.
“There’s a big maturity jump happening,” junior offensive lineman Ben Bredeson said. “People are starting to feel it. We want to be the type of intimidating team we were in 2016. When we rolled down the tunnel, people feared us. We think we’re getting back to that.”
There’s already one loss on Michigan’s ledger, but the way the team has beat up on opponents the past three weeks is why UM’s climbed to 14th in the AP poll. Opinions about the Wolverines are changing, as they scored 49, 45, and 56 points in consecutive weeks. In Saturday’s rout against Nebraska, Michigan looked like a team that could challenge for Big Ten East Division supremacy.
But this story has been told before. In each of Harbaugh’s first three seasons, there were moments when it looked like Michigan was poised to occupy a chunk of the national spotlight only to cough it up. He still doesn’t own a marquee victory. However, the opportunity is coming in October.
This week is about preventing a stall. Northwestern (1-2) has lost two straight and the team’s leading rusher, Cincinnati native Jeremy Larkin, retired Monday because of a diagnosis of cervical stenosis, a condition that causes narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck and upper back. Still, coach Pat Fitzgerald and the Wildcats always get up for Michigan, and it’s always a challenge on the shores of Lake Michigan.
“We’re feeling pretty confident in our game,” Michigan sophomore receiver Nico Collins said.
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