Braylon Edwards stepped off the set of Saturday’s Big Ten Tailgate at Ferry Field decked out in Michigan Jumpman gear. Three hours later, the former Michigan All-American wide receiver would watch his alma mater face Maryland on the same field he set program records for most receiving career yards and touchdowns. But first, he made a proclamation.
“(If) they take it a game at a time and they do the necessary things they need to do, they’ll win,” Edwards said.
“Like, we shouldn’t even be close against Maryland, so you’ve gotta go out there and establish the game early. Maryland shouldn’t play with us, and that’s how we should play.”
Edwards’ statement would prove to be true later that day, when Michigan blew out the Terrapins, 59-3. The Wolverines racked up 660 total offensive yards, led by a quarterback who threw 19-for-24 for 362 yards and two touchdowns. Edwards mentioned that the Wolverines would have to start quick, and they did, shutting out the Terrapins 35-0 in the first 30 minutes of play.
The numbers are astronomical, the kind that make you do a double take when you see the stat line. It’s almost like Michigan wasn’t even on the same planet.
But head coach Jim Harbaugh made sure to bring his team back down to Earth soon after. After Saturday’s contest, he noted that his team has been celebrating less and less with each passing game.
The further the Wolverines get from their summer training camp, when they mastered the fundamentals, the more difficult it is to remember the basics.
“You can’t afford to celebrate too long,” Harbaugh said. “… We’re going to celebrate all wins, understanding that that ballgame comes quick next Saturday. We need the preparation time, and the way the event occurred this week, I’m really pleased. They did that. They did that after the last ball game. They made a commitment altogether, ‘Let’s not celebrate this too long. Let’s get ready for the ballgame that’s coming on Saturday.’ ”
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Wilton Speight, who keeps playing better games with each passing Saturday, doesn’t want to soak in the limelight, either.
“It means nothing if we’re 9-1,” Speight said. “It all matters if we’re 10-0. We’re not going to get to 10-0 by basking in our glory all throughout tomorrow. Let’s enjoy this one for a couple hours, hang out with our family, go eat some ice cream at (Al Glick Fieldhouse) and then it’s a wrap.”
After the ice cream is gone, it’s crucial the 9-0 Wolverines avoid a letdown. It has happened before.
In 2004, Edwards’ senior year, Michigan had just one early loss at Notre Dame, but then suffered a crushing defeat to an underdog Ohio State team in Columbus nine weeks later after rising to a No. 7 ranking.
“We went down to Ohio State — we didn’t think Ohio State was very good, we overlooked them, we got arrogant and we lost,” Edwards said. “I don’t think that’s the case this year. I think Ohio State is a pretty good team, so Michigan won’t take them lightly, so they won’t deal with the same issues we dealt with. But they’ve just got to take it game-by-game. Play Ohio State in four weeks, not tomorrow or not next week or the next week.”
Before they get the chance to prove that they’re taking the Buckeyes seriously this time around, the Wolverines will have to play at a raucous Kinnick Stadium and take on a scrappy Indiana team the week after.
In three weeks, it’s likely that the Wolverines will march down to Columbus with an undefeated record — unless they fall victim to one of those two matchups — and will face the challenge of not getting ahead of themselves once more.
Lloyd Carr, who was also at the Big Ten Tailgate on Saturday, had a few close calls in his 13-year stint as Michigan’s head football coach. In early November 2006, his then-second-ranked Wolverines got a scare from Ball State, and then ultimately had their perfect season snapped by the Buckeyes two short weeks later.
Carr thinks he knows how this Michigan team can avoid repeating those past mistakes:
“They must do this: They must do exactly what Coach Harbaugh tells them to do. Period.”