Pat Caputo: MSU, Michigan are the real deal

The other shoe isn't necessarily going to drop on Michigan and Michigan State.

It might be that the Wolverines and Spartans, each undefeated at 3-0, are better than anticipated.

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Michigan running backs Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins present the ideal outside-inside combination. Corum’s flat-out speed is special. Pro Football Focus has graded Corum the best back in the country.

Quarterback Cade McNamara has been accurate and taken care of the ball. There are explosive weapons on the outside. The speed of A.J. Henning and Cornelius Johnson has stood out despite limited targets. The idea that Michigan won’t pass effectively when required isn’t automatically true. The Wolverines’ experienced offensive line has pulled together. Their play-action passing game should excel. Michigan’s pass defense has been much improved under new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald. And DE Aiden Hutchinson is performing like a first-round NFL Draft pick.

State’s Mel Tucker has used the transfer portal as efficiently as any coach in the nation. Wake Forest transfer Kenneth Walker III is the second-highest graded back nationally according to PFF, only slightly below Corum.
Quarterback Payton Thorne, and receivers Tre Mosley, Jayden Reed and Jalen Nailor have thrived in offensive coordinator Jay Johnson’s system. Underrated safety Xavier Henderson leads a defense that has been opportunistic.

Neither team had a player on Phil Steele’s preseason All-Big Ten team, but the talent level of both squads has been vastly underrated.

Sudden turnarounds aren’t that uncommon.

Consider the salad days for both programs. When Michigan ran the table in 1997, winning the national championship, it was coming off a string of four-loss seasons during which the wisdom of hiring Lloyd Carr to replace Gary Moeller was loudly questioned. Quarterback Brian Griese had been widely considered a disappointment, but he definitely played well enough in '97 to keep the GOAT, Tom Brady, on the bench. Charles Woodson beat out Peyton Manning to win the Heisman Trophy. To this day, he remains the only defensive player to win college football's most prestigious individual award.

Nobody, outside the program, saw it coming. If they tell you they did, they are lying.

In 2013, MSU began the season with its defense literally outscoring its offense. Andrew Maxwell, a highly-regarded recruit from Midland, struggled. Connor Cook, a lesser-known recruit from Ohio, took over at quarterback. After a close loss at Notre Dame, the Spartans ran the table, including downing Stanford in the Rose Bowl. It began perhaps the most fulfilling run in MSU football history.

Ohio State has shown some cracks in its armor, especially defensiv