As season winds down, Harbaugh sees ‘championship’ qualities

With Saturday’s dramatic win over Penn State in the rearview mirror, Michigan football players and coaches returned to Schembechler Hall to prepare for the ultimate trap game.

At 9-1 and ranked No. 7 in the latest USA Today coaches poll, the only thing separating Michigan from a date with Ohio State — a showdown that could decide, among other things, which Big Ten school has the best chance of reaching the College Football Playoff — is a trip to Maryland, an opponent that has lost five of its last six games.

“That’s a huge challenge for us this week is we have to be able to remain focused on Maryland,” quarterback Cade McNamara said. “We can’t play in any championship without beating Maryland first, so that has to be our mindset going into this week. We’re obviously aware that a big game is ahead, but we have to be more focused on what’s ahead of us right now.”

This year’s group of Wolverines has faced trap games before. They were asked about looking ahead to a road game with Wisconsin even though Rutgers was next on the schedule. They were questioned about the rivalry game with Michigan State even as Northwestern prepared for a trip to Ann Arbor. Both times, coach Jim Harbaugh’s club rose to the occasion and scraped out wins in a reflection of unwavering concentration.

MICHAEL COHEN: Michigan football turns to players who ‘were born for this’ in Penn State win

The same will be expected against the Terrapins, who enter this week’s game as 15-point underdogs after losing to the Spartans in East Lansing. Harbaugh reiterated the idea of approaching the final month of the season with a playoff mindset, something he first mentioned ahead of the rivalry game with Michigan State. But as of Saturday afternoon, after the Wolverines defeated the Nittany Lions in Happy Valley, he began tossing around…

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