- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 12, 2011

If Michigan were a stock, and the better its ranking the higher the price, there would be a lot of traders wondering if now is the time to sell high on the Wolverines.

No. 11 Michigan is 6-0, but the Wolverines started fast and faded the past two seasons under coach Rich Rodriguez. An improved defense under new coach Brady Hoke makes the Wolverines look better built for the long run this year.

Still, halfway through the season, there’s much to learn about Michigan.

Its most impressive victory was that wild game against Notre Dame, and before last week’s 42-24 win at Northwestern, Michigan had not played a road game.

The Wolverines are on the road again Saturday, facing No. 23 Michigan State and trying to snap a three-game losing streak in a rivalry that they are not used to losing.

“Obviously, the guys know what the history has been,” Michigan coach Brady Hoke said.

Sparty hasn’t beaten ‘big brother’ Michigan four straight years since 1959-62. And Michigan is 67-31-5 in the series.

“I believe in making (the Michigan rivalry) important,” Spartans coach Mark Dantonio said Tuesday. “And, doing certain things to try and put an asterisk behind that game.”

We haven’t heard much from the Spartans this season. They were dominated 31-13 by Notre Dame last month and their best win was 10-7 slog at Ohio State. So we’ll find out a lot about them, too.

Michigan State’s defense is the toughest Denard Robinson and the Wolverines have faced. The Spartans rank among the best in the Big Ten and the nation in yards and points allowed. They haven’t gotten a running game going yet, but senior quarterback Kirk Cousins should test a Michigan defense that is no doubt better than last season and is just as assuredly still vulnerable to a good offense.

A victory at Michigan State could send Michigan’s price, er, ranking into the top 10 with a week off and a home game against Purdue to close October.

That’s when holding on to Michigan would get really risky. November is by far the Wolverines’ toughest month with road games at Iowa and Illinois followed by home games against Nebraska and Ohio State.

The picks:


No. 1 LSU (minus 16) at Tennessee

Story Continues →