MONDAY HUDDLE: Should season expectations be raised for U-M, MSU?

It looks like the same old Lions on defense to start the season

Michigan linebacker Michael Barrett (23) rushes with a fake punt to convert on a fourth down in the second quarter of an NCAA college football game against Washington in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Ding) (Tony Ding, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Huddle up! Here’s a look back at the first full week of the football season, with three key takeaways from the state’s football scene.

Are Michigan and Michigan State on track to exceed expectations?

There might not have been combined lower expectations for Michigan or Michigan State going into a football season in recent memory, with both fan bases realizing that each team — both unranked to start the season — were in store for rebuilding years.

But after the first two weeks, fans of both the Wolverines and the Spartans have had their eyes opened, at least a little bit.

Michigan might have been going up against a Washington offense that looked beyond lost, but the Wolverines, for the second straight game, took care of business in a 31-10 win.

The offensive line for the Wolverines dominated a good Washington defense and allowed what looks to be a deadly 1-2 punch at running back, Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins, to combine for 326 yards rushing.

Defensively, Aidan Hutchinson once again was unblockable along the edge, and looks to be playing himself onto first-round draft boards already.

As for Michigan State, after years of offensive ineptitude, the Spartans once again showed some — gasp — explosiveness in a 42-14 win over Youngstown State.

The Spartans have already scored 80 points this season in their two games.

Of course, there’s a LONG way to go for both squads, and bigger tests await, starting with MSU’s visit to the heat and humidity of Miami (Florida) on Saturday.

Any MSU fans making the trip should get ready to sweat, with a noon kickoff in South Florida.

However, there’s definite reason for both fan bases to be more intrigued than they thought they’d be after the first two games.

Are the Lions going to be worse, defensively?

The Lions were the worst team in the NFL last year, giving up a league-worst 519 points and 6,716 yards.

Well, the old adage that “it can’t get any worse” was not in display during a season-opening 41-33 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

The Lions gave up 442 yards overall, 311 yards passing and an average of 8 yards per play to the 49ers, which ran roughshod over the Lions until San Francisco seemed to let up with a 41-17 lead in the fourth quarter.

Second-year cornerback Jeff Okudah, the No. 3 overall pick in last year’s draft, didn’t endear himself to Lions fans as he struggled -- and then suffered what might have been an Achilles injury late in the game.

The Lions earned a moral victory with a late rally, but an expected long season looks to be in store with no improvement defensively.

Cass Tech-King play another classic

Once again, the kids at the two premier high school programs in Detroit and two of the best in the entire state, Cass Tech and Martin Luther King, didn’t disappoint and played a classic that was high school football at its best.

With future collegiate players all over the field for both sides, Martin Luther King held on for a 41-34 win over Cass Tech on Friday.

One of the country’s top quarterback recruits, Dante Moore, led Martin Luther King with five touchdown passes.

The two are in different divisions for the state playoffs, so don’t be surprised if both bring home state championships at the end of the year.

About the Author:

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.