When game week comes to a close, ESPN’s “College GameDay” wraps up its show Saturday morning and the Michigan football team kicks off its showdown against Michigan State, almost one month will have passed since the Wolverines last gave up a point.
Fifth-year senior linebacker Desmond Morgan smiles at the thought. A few days ahead of the toughest test of this streak, Michigan’s defense isn’t worried about its end.
“We just play our game,” Morgan said. “We’re not into predictions — what if this happens? What if that? It’s all speculation. Our goal is to prepare this week as best we can to go win a football game on Saturday.”
Ah yes, the football game on Saturday. Almost all of the discussion Monday centered around the game against the Spartans, who have won the past two meetings by a combined score of 64-17.
“Yeah, they beat us,” said junior cornerback Jourdan Lewis. “Honestly, it’s a humbling experience, but we can’t dwell on it.”
The Wolverines have chosen to forget those two losses. And thanks to the strength of their top-ranked defense, they are favored to win the rivalry game for just the second time in eight tries.
And if there was a concern about that defense letting up while riding a historic streak, Michigan put that to rest, too.
“(Defensive coordinator D.J.) Durkin does a great job of never taking his foot off the gas pedal in practice, never letting a guy slip,” Morgan said. “He’s as fiery in meetings now as he was three weeks ago before we had a shutout. It’s one of those things where he’s not going to let up, so in turn we’re not going to let up.”
Still, the circumstances are different now from the last time the Wolverines gave up a point Sept. 19 against UNLV. They have not trailed since the second quarter of the Sept. 12 home opener against Oregon State.
Depending on how things go, that streak could be snapped Saturday, forcing Michigan to respond. The Wolverines insist Durkin will have them ready.
“He’s just as enthused as Coach Harbaugh is,” Lewis said. “He brings that energy. He brings that enthusiasm every day. If we don’t have that enthusiasm, he lets us know it. We have to bring that energy, and if we don’t bring that energy, it’s not to his standards.”
Michigan vehemently avoided hyping up itself or the game Saturday, keeping a low profile in the Spartans’ eyes.
But the stats do the talking for the Wolverines. So do the fans, who broke out into a loud “DE-FENSE!” chant near the end of Saturday’s game.
“I couldn’t even think,” Lewis said. “I have never seen anything like that. I was just so excited that they were behind us. … It was a mind-blowing experience.”
With that finished, Michigan’s attention turned solely to this week. So far, the Wolverines’ three straight shutouts have vaulted them to the top of the Big Ten standings, to No. 12 in the Associated Press poll and into the national conversation.
But another shutout on Saturday might mean more than the others.
“It’s a big game, there’s no question it’s a rivalry,” Morgan said. “Taking it personally? Yeah. I’m a kid from the state of Michigan. I know what this game is. I know how important it is. It definitely is something that’s personal.”