He’s led Michigan to a triple-overtime victory and a season-opening triumph: Wolverines QB Cade McNamara needs just one more win to officially start a streak (2 wins in a row, 3 of 4) — and a victory Saturday against Washington would be exactly what’s needed in order for the 2nd-year QB to take control of a team that’s in desperate need of leadership from a quarterback.

During Saturday’s manhandling of Western Michigan, 47-14, McNamara completed 9 of 11 passes for 136 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also led the Wolverines to scores on 6 of 7 drives prior to JJ McCarthy seeing relief duties. Additionally, he was the highest-rated Power 5 QB by Pro Football Focus during Week 1.

No pressure, really. Well, yeah, there is a lot on McNamara. Since taking over the offense against Rutgers in 2020, he’s led the Wolverines to scores on roughly two-thirds of his drives. He’s solidified himself as a leader in the locker room, despite not being named a captain.

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Beating Washington will mean everything to McNamara, regardless if he says so publicly during a press conference.

Since spring, Harbaugh has consistently delivered high praise toward McNamara. And really, the public displays of affection started in 2020, when it was evident that McNamara was going to leapfrog former starter Joe Milton.

McCarthy will get his turn — that much is written in stone. But it’s McNamara’s time. Though it just started, he does have the potential to hit a wave of confidence and guide the Wolverines through their schedule.

He’s already off to a decent start.

“He moves our team,” said Harbaugh following the WMU win. “All the drives he’s been in — we score points when he’s out there.”

Other than Wilton Speight in 2016, no Harbaugh-era starter has won even 3 in a row to begin his UM career. The Wolverines won 9 in a row with Speight before a Playoff-critical 14-13 loss at Iowa. After losing the season-opener 24-17 in 2018 at Notre Dame, Wolverines starter Shea Patterson won 10 consecutive games prior to a 62-39 loss at Oho State.

So yes, Saturday is a big deal for McNamara, in terms of establishing a streak the Wolverines can ride through at least the early stages of the 2021 season.

The Wolverines need a starter to stack up some wins, stats and confidence before they can truly feel good about themselves. The upcoming schedule has Northern Illinois and Rutgers at home before seeing Wisconsin on Oct. 2 in Madison.

If everything falls into place for McNamara, he’ll have the Wolverines firmly in the Top 25 before making the trip to see the Badgers. If everything falls into place, it’ll be easier to extrapolate numbers and project his current run to that of other successful Harbaugh-era QBs — the ones who have done the best were the ones who were able to go on such hot streaks.

It may be grasping at straws a little bit, but Saturday could certainly be a gateway for more to come for McNamara.

While past stats don’t always transfer over to current players, there is no reason not to believe that a streak by McNamara could set the Wolverines up for a string of victories this season — the successful predecessors started out somewhere … somewhere pretty close to from where McNamara has started.