X-Factor Confidence Level – 4
Free Harbaugh is not only a funny t-shirt that Michigan fans and players have been wearing in support of their weird coach but seems to be a rallying cry for the team who look at this game against Ohio State as their opportunity to show the world just how the NCAA, the Big Ten, and the rest of college football has wronged them this season.
This “we’re the victim” narrative that they all seem to be feeding into has got to be a psychosis. It was Jim Harbaugh who hired Conor Stalions. It was Connor Stalions who was on the sideline at Central Michigan in disguise. It was the Michigan coaching staff who was using the spreadsheets created by Stalions to reach a level of sign stealing not previously ever achieved by any other college program before, which has been deemed illegal by Big Ten Commissioner Tony Petitti.
Whether Michigan believes it to be illegal or not, the fact remains that this situation has become a centralized topic that has galvanized an entire fanbase, football team, and school. We might view their victimhood as a psychosis, but for them, it has become a motivational tool.
There is a belief among maize and blue fans that their football team is going to reach a level of play not previously reached in order to right this wrong that has unjustly been applied to them and it needs to be Ohio State who receives the brunt of their anger.
I usually don’t buy into outside forces or bulletin board material being needed for extra motivation in a game like this. The fact that your opponent is your hated rival should be all the motivation you need to want to win. But this feels different – on both sides, which is why I am worried that if it comes down to a final run or a final drive, it’s advantage Michigan. My confidence level for Ohio State when it comes to the X-Factor is only a four.