Suddenly, that trip to Ann Arbor doesn't seem so daunting. Now the Ducks are thinking that either the Wolverines aren't as good as their ranking, or they're going to be out for redemption. With the pain and humiliation of arguably the greatest upset loss in college football history still lingering, the Michigan Wolverines can't lick their wounds for long as they get right back to action in Saturday's non-conference bout with the visiting Oregon Ducks.
Lloyd Carr's Michigan squad opened the new campaign as the fifth-ranked team in the country and the odds-on favorite to win the Big Ten and challenge for the national title. Unfortunately, the good feelings surrounding the team ended in shocking fashion as the Wolverines were beaten at home by Appalachian State, the two-time defending FCS national champions. The loss caused the team to tumble out of the Top-25 in the largest fall in the history of the AP poll.
Whether Saturday's historic upset in Ann Arbor bodes well or poorly for Oregon is debatable. On one hand, Michigan now knows exactly -- and painfully -- what it has to address in facing the spread-option. On the other hand, any "wow factor" this trip might have had for Oregon has disappeared, even with more than 100,000 fans due in the stands Saturday.
Michigan owns a 3-1 edge in the all-time series with Oregon, with all three wins coming at home. In those three games, the Wolverines outscored the Ducks by a combined score of 59-0. Still, the only history that figures to matter in this one is very recent history -- as in, how will Michigan react to the embarrassment of the season opener.
And as for a Pacific-10 Conference school sneaking up on a big-time, Big Ten Conference school? "They're going to be on heightened alert," Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said. "I liken it to people being prepared for terrorist attacks now." Michigan now has lost three consecutive games, which doesn't sit well with its ample fan base.
Against Michigan, the Ducks will face a more traditional approach. There will be much less deception than the Cougars showed, but the Wolverines do have an aggressive, athletic offensive line and a powerful running back in Mike Hart. And Oregon will find out if it can handle an opponent's running game.