Michigan firmly established itself as the Big Ten's most complete program in early December, annihilating Iowa in the conference's title game to secure a coveted spot in this year's College Football Playoff. At long last, the monkey is off head coach Jim Harbaugh's back.
And although the team wasn't projected to reach these heights in the Big Ten preseason poll, Wolverines offensive tackle Andrew Stueber sensed that they were a legitimate national championship contender before the season began.
"This team has changed so much since the 2020 season. We've changed the culture, the mentality, almost everything about this program, for the better," Stueber told The Zach Gelb Show on Tuesday. "That's just a testament to the players, the coaches, the staff around here. When we got to this season, we knew what we had. We knew what kind of team we had. But it was time to show everybody. Coach Harbaugh used to say, 'We're creating new buzz'...
"Culture can be defined in a lot of ways, and it's kind of this elusive word that people throw around. But for us, here, it's just the energy. It's having every day, coming in and attacking it. Knowing what you have to do, how to take care of business, and just being eager for more... We bring that to gameday. It's funny, every game we play, I look around and think we're having more fun than any team we're playing... It's that constant energy. There's never a dip."
Michigan -- which placed No. 2 in the final CFP rankings -- made light work of Iowa in the Big Ten championship game, cruising to a 42-3 win in Indianapolis on Dec. 4. Although the Wolverines scored four times via the run, their stout defense stole the show, as they limited the Hawkeyes to 279 yards of offense. Heisman candidate Aidan Hutchinson recorded a sack and four tackles, and won game MVP honors.
The Wolverines' next matchup shouldn't be stress-free -- they're scheduled to take on No. 4 Georgia in the Orange Bowl national semifinal on Dec. 31 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. According to FiveThirtyEight, Michigan currently has a 38-percent chance to reach the title game and an 18-percent chance to win the national championship.
The entire college football conversation between Stueber and Gelb can be accessed in the audio player above.
You can follow The Zach Gelb Show on Twitter @ZachGelb and Tom Hanslin @TomHanslin.