Is this Michigan football's most dominant streak since 1997 national championship season?

Wolverines have crushed three straight teams ranked in Top 25

Shea Patterson runs during the fourth quarter of the game against Penn State at Michigan Stadium on Nov. 3, 2018, in Ann Arbor. (Leon Halip/Getty Images)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - It was another nearly perfect weekend for Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan football program, as the team ripped off its eighth straight win and third straight win against ranked teams.

The streak itself is impressive, but the way Michigan has handled three of the top teams in the Big Ten is what vaulted the Wolverines into the top four of both major polls Sunday.

Michigan's dominance against Wisconsin, Michigan State and Penn State -- all 6-3 teams that were ranked heading into their meetings with the Wolverines -- has gotten the attention of the entire country.

Michigan outgained Wisconsin 444-283, Michigan State 395-94 and Penn State 403-186. That's a total three-game advantage of 1,242-563.

The total scoring margin was 101-27 in those three games.

Zach Gentry and the Michigan offense celebrate a touchdown against Penn State at Michigan Stadium on Nov. 3, 2018, in Ann Arbor. (Leon Halip/Getty Images)

How rare is it to beat ranked teams in three consecutive games? It's the first time a Big Ten team has done so since 1997, when the Wolverines knocked off four straight ranked teams and six ranked teams in seven games.

That 1997 streak, with six straight wins over ranked teams, three top-10 wins and a national championship is the most dominant stretch in the modern Michigan football era. But since then, this current streak might be the best.

Sheer dominance over ranked teams

The numbers above don't paint the full picture of how dominant Michigan has been the last three games.

Star defensive end Chase Winovich dubbed this season the "revenge tour," as Michigan tries to avenge last season's four losses in Big Ten play.

Chase Winovich celebrates a sack during Michigan's game against Penn State at Michigan Stadium on Nov. 3, 2018, in Ann Arbor. (Leon Halip/Getty Images)

So far, it's clear the team has taken that personally, checking three victims off the list to this point.

Of Wisconsin's 283 yards four weeks ago, 75 came in the waning moments with the game already decided. The Badgers had as many drives of fewer than 10 yards than they did drives of at least 20 yards.

Michigan finished the game with 11 possessions and only punted twice.

The Michigan State game was the most impressive, even though the final scored ended up much closer than the Wisconsin and Penn State scores.

The Spartans were held under 100 yards, gained just 15 yards on 23 rushing attempts and completed seven of 28 passes. Karan Higdon led a Michigan rushing attack that finished with 183 yards against the No. 1 run defense in the country.

Michigan held the ball for 41 minutes and only gave up seven points despite nine penalties for 99 yards.

Michigan State finished the game 0-12 on third down attempts and failed to convert its only fourth-down attempt.

Penn State never stood a chance. Even a bye week couldn't slow Michigan's momentum, as it jumped out to an early 14-0 lead and never looked back.

Donovan Peoples-Jones catches a touchdown pass during Michigan's game against Penn State at Michigan Stadium on Nov. 3, 2018, in Ann Arbor. (Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Harbaugh didn't even think about throwing the ball during an eight-play, 76-yard touchdown drive on Michigan's first possession. Higdon carried the ball four times, and Chris Evans and Shea Patterson each carried it twice en route to the end zone.

Trace McSorley, one of the conference's most dynamic playmakers, finished with 83 passing yards, minus six rushing yards and an interception.

Penn State needed a 75-yard touchdown drive against Michigan's backups in the final minutes to avoid a 42-0 shutout.

The rest of the streak

Those games didn't even make up half of Michigan's current winning streak, which began nearly two months ago against Western Michigan.

Of Michigan's eight straight wins, seven have come by at least 14 points and five have come by at least 25 points. Only Northwestern, which jumped out to a 17-0 lead, stayed within striking distance of the Wolverines.

Nearly every team in the country has lost more recently than Michigan, with the exception of Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, UCF and Utah State.

Michigan is now tied with LSU for the most wins against winning teams in the country. The Wolverines have knocked off six teams that currently have winning records. It's not like the winning streak has come against weak opponents.

Michigan is pounding good teams week after week after week.

Other comparable streaks

Starting with 1998, Michigan has had a handful of impressive winning streaks.

The 1998 team started 0-2 before ripping off eight straight wins, capped by a 27-0 win over No. 9 Penn State and a 27-10 win over No. 8 Wisconsin. But Michigan had several close games during that streak, including one-possession games finishes against Iowa, Northwestern and Minnesota.

In the following season, Michigan had a pair of five-game winning streaks. The second streak included wins over No. 6 Penn State and No. 5 Alabama, but four of the games were decided by one possession, so it wasn't as dominant as the current streak.

A six-game winning streak in 2003 has an interesting argument, as Michigan beat four ranked teams, including three in the top 10. Michigan had another eight-game streak in 2004, and 11 straight in 2006. But none of those teams were as consistently dominant game-in and game-out as the current Michigan team.

The Wolverines certainly didn't have a dominant streak during the Rich Rodriguez or Brady Hoke eras, and although Michigan was 9-0 in 2016, most of those opponents were terrible, and the ones that weren't played Michigan tough.

This eight-game winning streak has the rare combination of consistent dominance and wins over strong teams. There's certainly an argument that this is Michigan's most dominant winning streak since the 1997 national championship season.

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