ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The college football world hardly noticed Michigan’s blowout win over a weak Hawaii team on Saturday, but considering what happened around the sport, the Wolverines are happy to keep going unnoticed.
Week 2 turned out to be total chaos across college football, as several playoff contenders suffered fatal blows or forfeited any future room for error.
Meanwhile, teams like Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Georgia, and Clemson were thrilled to remain under the radar.
Michigan’s second victory -- like the first -- was never in doubt. The Wolverines scored touchdowns on six of eight first-half drives and surpassed 50 points for the second week in a row.
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Wins over Colorado State and Hawaii barely move the needle, even when the average margin of victory is 45 points. But the situation could be much, much worse.
Notre Dame’s downfall
Notre Dame is a prime example of the worst-case scenario through two weeks. Coming off what many viewed as an impressive performance at Ohio State in Week 1, the Fighting Irish lost to Marshall as a 20.5-point favorite.
Coming into the season, Notre Dame was ranked No. 5 in the nation. Now, on Sept. 10, all hope of making the playoff has already evaporated.
The Fighting Irish are eliminated, so does anyone care that their early schedule is more “respectable”? I’ll tell you one thing: They would gladly trade places with any other 2-0 team right now.
Contenders on life support
Notre Dame set the tone for a wild Saturday. Shortly after Marshall’s victory, fellow Sun Belt member Appalachian State took down Texas A&M in College Station.
Everyone wanted to see what Texas A&M would do this season after millions of dollars’ worth of NIL money went into the No. 1 recruiting class of 2022. The Aggies landed eight five-stars and 20 four-stars -- we’ve really never seen anything like it.
But the Aggies averaged more than $1 million per point Saturday, scoring just 14 against Appalachian State and losing as an 18-point favorite at home.
Texas A&M finished with just 186 yards against a team that gave up 63 points and 567 yards to North Carolina in Week 1. Since no team has made the College Football Playoff with multiple losses, Texas A&M will theoretically have to win 10 straight games against a schedule that includes Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Ole Miss, and Miami -- five top-20 teams.
Florida and Baylor also burned their mulligans over the weekend -- Florida at home against Kentucky and Baylor on the road at BYU. There’s no shame in losing to quality opponents, but September losses make the margin for error much smaller and put more pressure on the next 10 weeks.
Wisconsin lost at home to Washington State as a 17.5-point favorite. Pittsburgh dropped an overtime battle to Tennessee. Even Iowa did itself no favors with another offensive flop against rival Iowa State.
Dozens of fan bases woke up Sunday morning agonizing over what could have been. That’s why teams that have yet to face tough tests shouldn’t care less about their early strength of schedule.
Take care of business
Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Penn State can spend the entire fall beating up on each other. As long as they take care of business in September, those matchups will tell playoff committee members all they need to know.
That’s exactly what happened this weekend:
- Michigan beat Hawaii 56-10.
- Michigan State beat Akron 52-0.
- Ohio State beat Arkansas State 45-12.
- Penn State beat Ohio 46-10.
Alabama, Georgia, BYU, and a select few others have stronger resumes because they tested themselves early against tough opponents. But all that truly matters right now is avoiding losses.
Every win is a success, even if it’s only against terrible opponents such as Colorado State, Hawaii, and Connecticut. Michigan’s chance to prove itself will come. Until then, it’s all about making sure those later games actually matter.