What’s At Stake: Michigan vs. No. 13 Wisconsin

It might not seem like it, but there is so much riding on what Michigan does against Wisconsin tonight.
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The 2020 campaign can be labeled as nothing less than a disappointment for Michigan through the opening three weeks. The Wolverines lost to their in-state rival, and were clearly the inferior team last week in Bloomington.

Week 4 provides Michigan with an opportunity. A Top 15 team who hasn’t played in two weeks, and has question marks when it comes to key personnel comes to Ann Arbor. The Wolverines may not be able to reach its preseason goals, but there’s something to be gained in tonight’s game.

Michigan’s perspective on this season needs to change. It’s time to begin preparing for 2021. The experience gained for the remainder of this season could be vital to success next season.

Injuries along the offensive line to tackles Jalen Mayfield and Ryan Hayes provide an opportunity for young guys like Karsen Barnhart to get invaluable game repetitions. Quarterback Joe Milton will get another start under his belt, against one of the best defenses he’ll see this year. It’s another week for tailbacks Zach Charbonnet, Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum to separate themselves.

More importantly, Michigan needs to figure out which guys are going to step up defensively. The Wolverines’ corners, Vincent Gray and Gemon Green, have been thrown to the fire early this season. The Wolverines top defensive linemen – Aidan Hutchinson and Kwity Paye – will both miss Saturday’s game. Which young guys will step up and make an impact?

Of those who will be on the field, Dax Hill has clearly been Michigan’s best defender this season. He’s been outstanding thus far. If nothing else, fans should be excited for an opportunity to see him line up in a Wolverine uniform again.

Finally, we’re still waiting to see what this coaching staff is going to do with this young, undermanned team. Changes need to be made. Offensive coordinator Josh Gattis needs to find a way to get his young athletes in space. Defensive coordinator Don Brown needs to find ways to limit the exposure of Michigan’s weaknesses on that side of the ball.

Position coaches are under the spotlight as well. We need to see improvement at an individual level. A lot of these guys were highly-touted prospects. Can their potential be unlocked by this coaching staff?

How does Jim Harbaugh manage all of this? Is the competitive fire still lit within Harbaugh? The head man said this week he wanted to be judged by his actions – speaking on his future at Michigan. That starts this week against a tough opponent. Michigan needs the old Harbaugh grit and tenacity if they’re going to be successful.

Recruits around the country will be watching in primetime tonight. Michigan’s early results may be giving pause to some prospects considering the Wolverines. Here’s a chance to start building positive momentum on the recruiting trail as well.

Michigan may be out of contention in the Big Ten, much earlier than anyone expected, but there’s still plenty to play for with the Badgers in town tonight.