It’s a much-deserved bye week for Michigan, but it is by no means a week off. There’s still a lot at stake going forward, so it’s a good time to get healthy, and get better.

But it’s also a time to feel good about themselves for a job well done the past few weeks. Everyone wondered if Michigan could break its curse of losing big games under Jim Harbaugh, but they responded emphatically with impressive wins over Wisconsin and Michigan State. The defense completely dominated both games, thoroughly embarrassing both opposing quarterbacks, and the Michigan offense was productive when it needed to be.

So what’s nice about the bye week is that the Wolverines can feel good about all that they’ve accomplished so far, and can also feel very good about succeeding in the big games that lie ahead.

There’s one thing we know for sure right now. This Michigan team isn’t afraid of anybody.

Here’s a few bye week thoughts, both good and bad:

  • Having an extra week to prepare for Penn State is nice: The Nittany Lions embarrassed Michigan’s vaunted defense last year in Happy Valley, rolling up 506 yards in a 42-13 beatdown. Defensive coordinator Don Brown is still steaming over that performance, so you can be sure that’s not going to happen again in 2018. Expect the Wolverines defense to continue its dominating ways when they return to the field on Nov. 3.
  • Having a week of rest helps, too: As intense as these past few weeks have been, it’s good to step back a little and regroup. Those little nagging injuries and bumps and bruises can go away in a week. Then it’s all about the big finish, four regular season games with a lot at stake. It’s going to be a fun November.

And then there’s the bad. I have this one nagging thought:

One of the great things about college football is that the regular season really matters. All of it. That’s why I’m still concerned that Michigan’s season-opening loss to Notre Dame might still come back to haunt them. I still think it’s entirely possible that Michigan could win out — which means beating Penn State and Ohio and winning the Big Ten title game — and still not make the College Football Playoff.

Clemson looks like a Playoff lock now and so does unbeaten Notre Dame if it runs the table, which is highly likely. The SEC champion is going for sure, but what happens if, say, an 11-1 Georgia team beats Alabama in the SEC Championship Game?  There’s no way the committee leaves Alabama out, which wouldn’t leave a spot for Michigan. Alabama has been too dominant all season and even though it’s not supposed to matter, they are the defending champions.

Right now, I think Michigan needs to root for Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame to win out. That’s the clearest path for that fourth spot. Alabama running the table takes LSU and Georgia out of the conversation. A Texas loss probably wouldn’t hurt either, but I’m still convinced the selection committee won’t forgive Texas for that Maryland loss.

Still, it’s up to Michigan to finish off its business. So rest up this week, then get after it.