But apparently, that's all for naught.
The Wolverines now sit at 5-1 with a revamped confidence and reenergized fan base, as well as expectations for more.
The Spartans on the other hand are the undefeated team at 6-0, though based on the tenor of conversations -- and on the play week in and week out -- it doesn't much seem like it.
Either way, ESPN's College Gameday will be in Ann Arbor Saturday for No. 12 Michigan hosting No. 7 Michigan State, and the winner sets itself up as a front runner for a Big Ten conference championship game appearance, and maybe more.
At least, that's what Michigan is focused on.
"Winning the next game is the goal," Jim Harbaugh said. "That's the most important thing. There's nothing more important than that, where you're standing this week."
This week, the next game, phrases tossed out Monday at a consistent clip. Asked about having an extra focus on being physical in practice, and how much of a focus it'll be based on the physical play the Spartans have played with against Michigan recently, Harbaugh again fought back.
"Think about the Lion King, Simba gets hit over the head and he tells him, 'yeah the past can hurt,'" Harbaugh said.
"You can either run from it or embrace it and learn from it, I think is exactly what he said so, those seem like very wise words."
Maybe Harbaugh is right, and maybe, for this week, it's what he believes, but that would be difficult to understand based on the bullying deployed by Michigan State under Mark Dantonio.
Harbaugh removed the countdown clocks for both Michigan State and Ohio State, originally ticking away prior to his arrival in Ann Arbor. On that, Harbaugh had trouble remembering why.
"That was a while ago," Harbaugh said.
Normally speaking very openly about rivalry games and the hatred that comes in the lead up to and aftermath, none of the four were biting.
"We're taking it one game at a time," Lewis said. "Every single game is our next big one. We know Michigan State is a great team but we're just taking it one game at a time."
"We just got a lot of guys so focused on our main goal of just succeeding each week," Butt said. "We're just going to prepare how we have been, it seems to be working for us. We're going as hard as we can every day and it's not going to change this week."
Stribling Returning to Action
Channing Stribling missed Michigan’s game versus Maryland a few weeks back with an unspecified injury according to Jim Harbaugh. The junior scorer dressed last weekend and participated in warmups prior to the Northwestern game, but wound up being held out again. According to his head coach there isn’t any cause for concern.
“He was very very close this past weekend,” said Harbaugh. “He could have played, but we thought it was more prudent to not play him.”
When asked if he expects Stribling to play this week Harbaugh didn’t hesitate.
“I do,” he replied.