Michigan was college football’s laughing stock after week one. Now people are talking about a return trip to Pasadena. Where should expectations rest? Probably somewhere in the middle. With five games left, Michigan could do anything from run the table and win a Big Ten title, to falter against its rival and in some other tough road games. Who should you fear the most? Here’s my guess.

Illinois

(3-1 Big Ten, 5-2 overall)

– Saturday

The Fighting Illini haven’t won more than five games since 2001. They lost to an Iowa team riding an eight-game conference losing streak last weekend. And they’re coached by Ron Zook.

Should you be scared? Absolutely.

This weekend’s matchup is scarier than anything not involving Ohio State. It’s a road game. Against a team with a mobile quarterback. At night.

Michigan may be getting better against spread teams, but Illinois quarterback Juice Williams is more Dennis Dixon than Curtis Painter.

You-should-be-scared rating: 8 out of 10.

Minnesota (0-4, 1-6)

– Oct. 27

Michigan-Minnesota. The battle for the Brown Jug. A true rivalry game.

Um, what?

Minnesota is awful. Sometimes in journalism, we have a tendency to overstate things to get our point across easier. This isn’t one of those cases. In actuality, saying Minnesota is awful is a gross understatement. The Golden Gophers would lose to my high school (Fremont High is 5-3 this year, by the way).

Scared? Ha. The only real fear students should have is if they spill their drink on their shirt before the game, or if they forget to TiVo actual meaningful games during the Minnesota matchup.

You-should-be-scared rating: -2 out of 10.

Michigan State (1-2, 5-2)

– Nov. 3

Michigan State is like the little brother that’s waaaay too obsessed with you. When you start shaving, Michigan State wants to stand next to you on a stool and do it along with you. When you go out to the movies with your friends, Michigan State wants to come. When you’re good at football, Michigan State wants to be good, too.

Well, the last one might actually be coming true. Mark Dantonio has taken over the reins in East Lansing, and along with having a Michigan-centric focus – he’s put up a giant clock counting down to the Michigan-Michigan State game – he’s also put together a pretty decent team, too.

But hey, it’s still Michigan State. I wouldn’t lose much sleep over it.

You-should-be-scared rating: 6 of out 10.

Wisconsin (2-2, 5-2)

– Nov. 10

Entering the season, nearly all the so-called experts had this circled as the game that could and should determine the Big Ten Championship. Well, that’s why the term “so-called” is thrown in front of experts, because the only thing this game will determine is which team underuses its talent the least.

Your only real fear should be that you’d go to Madison, see how awesome of a college town it is and not want to come back to Ann Arbor.

But as for the game itself? Hakuna Matata, my friends.

You-should-be-scared rating: 5 out of 10.

Ohio State (7-0)

– Nov. 17

(Gulp.)

You-should-be-scared rating: 39 out of 10.

– Bell can be reached at scotteb@umich.edu.

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