April 13, 2012

Borton's Blog: Perfect 10

Michigan has a chance to accomplish something on the football field this season that isn't all that common. The Wolverines will be looking to put together back-to-back seasons in which the wins hit double digits.

Brady Hoke and the crew would likely be disappointed (and have company) if 11-2 were followed up by say, 9-4, but with the schedule Michigan faces, that's entirely possible. If the Wolverines do hit 10 wins, though, they'll break into some decent company.

Of course, this discussion always needs to arrive with an asterisk. It's tough to win 10 games when you don't play 10, and for a number of years, college football (and Michigan) rowed that boat.

For instance, the Wolverines won back-to-back national championships in 1947 and '48, going 10-0 and 9-0, respectively. But with 12-game regular-season schedules now the norm, 10 wins represents a reasonable separator with regard to a very solid year.

Michigan hasn't strung 10-win campaigns back-to-back since 2002-2003. In 2002, U-M went 10-3, losing a heartbreaker at Ohio State, 14-9, but bouncing back to knock off Florida in the Outback Bowl, 38-30. The following year, senior quarterback John Navarre guided the Wolverines to a 10-3 record a 35-21 win over the Buckeyes, and a Rose Bowl appearance.

Here are the other multiple 10-win streaks in Michigan football history:

• 1997-99 (12-0, 10-3, 10-2)
• 1985-86 (10-1-1, 11-2)
• 1976-78 (10-2, 10-2, 10-2)
• 1971-74 (11-1, 10-1, 10-0-1, 10-1)
• 1901-05 (11-0, 11-0, 11-0-1, 10-0, 12-1)

Hoke's crew has a strong shot at joining the groups listed above, schedule notwithstanding. If the Wolverines could pull it off this season, they might just start a run of their own, given the possibility of a 13th pre-bowl contest (Big Ten championship game) in any given year.

Their goal, obviously, involves not only reaching that lucky 13th, but winning it. Whether a 10-victory total even makes the goals radar is unclear. But if the stretches listed above are any indicator, a streak of that type would mean a lot of other coveted prizes coming along for the ride.

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