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Michigan opens the 2018 season Sept. 1 against Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.

Michigan must outdo itself to win Big Ten East Division championship

Rachel Lenzi

During the week, Land of 10 reporters following the Wolverines answer questions on the minds of Michigan fans. Submit a question or suggest a topic by sending a tweet here to Rachel Lenzi or here to Kevin Goheen. Check back Monday through Friday as we answer the Michigan Question of the Day. Go here to see our previous answers.

This is a great question, given Michigan’s football shortcomings in recent years. I’m going to go for broke with my answer:

The Wolverines need to win the Big Ten Conference’s East Division to redeem themselves in 2018. Winning the Big Ten East should be at the top of the Wolverines’ to-do list every year heading into the fall. It shouldn’t just be a pipe dream, though it appears to be turning into one as Ohio State, Michigan State and Penn State continue to dominate the division.

That’s probably not going to satisfy the Ohio State loyalist who sent in this question, but it’s the truth. The Big Ten East is easily one of the toughest divisions in college football, if not the toughest. The Wolverines got no favors when they were put into this division. Instead, they have to create opportunities for themselves in the East. Translation: They need to win division games. They haven’t.

Michigan needs to set its standards extremely high if it wants to be considered a contender for the College Football Playoff. That starts with winning its division.

Winning the Big Ten East opens the door for the Wolverines to play for the Big Ten championship. And winning the Big Ten championship should be a straightforward qualifier for a College Football Playoff berth.

Easier said than done. Especially given Michigan’s recent history, combined with recent Big Ten history. Since its formation in 2014, the Big Ten East is practically a three-team race — much to the chagrin of Wolverines fans. Michigan hasn’t won a Big Ten championship since 2004, when it shared the title with Iowa. It has yet to win a Big Ten division title.

For the Wolverines to factor into that race, they can’t keep getting kicked around by the Spartans, the Nittany Lions and the Buckeyes. Not only is it insulting to them, but it keeps Michigan out of the race for national title contention.

And that needs to change, for Michigan’s sake and for the sake of the Big Ten East. Michigan needs to beat its rivals. It needs to do it on an annual basis. Not once every few years.

The Wolverines need to break up the monopoly that the Nittany Lions, the Buckeyes and the Spartans hold on division championships. It will only further legitimize the Big Ten East.

Read more answers to questions about the Michigan Wolverines here