The end of an abbreviated and tumultuous University of Michigan season is near. In fact, it may have already reached that point.
Coach Jim Harbaugh revealed on Monday that team activities had been paused due to presumptive COVID-19 positives within the program.
The Wolverines are scheduled tocomplete their home schedule against Maryland on Saturday before facing arch-rival Ohio State on the road Dec. 12. The Buckeyes' season is also in jeopardy due to a coronavirus outbreak.
Whether or not Michigan is able to take the field on Saturday, Harbaugh's days with the program appear to be numbered. The Wolverines (2-4) have lost four of their last five games, with their lone victory coming in overtime against perennial Big Ten doormat Rutgers.
Previously winless Penn State came to Ann Arbor last weekend and emerged with a 27-17 victory.
Harbaugh admits that the losing has worn on his players but it hasn't been due to a lack of effort.
"You're playing your heart out and you're not getting the rewards of winning. That's tough. It's hard," he said. "Football is challenging, life is challenging. You respond to that challenge. I think our guys are doing that."
The Big Ten schools nearly skipped the season due to the pandemic and the way the season has played out, Michigan fans might wish their team never took the field. However, Harbaugh is glad that didn't happen, despite the disappointing results.
"I believe it has been worth it," he said. "There are challenges in football and there are challenges in life. Responding and rising up to that challenge is something I believe in very strongly. That's how I feel about it."
Sophomore quarterback Cade McNamara got his first career start against the Nittany Lions after he threw four touchdown passes and ran for another in a relief role against the Scarlet Knights. McNamara completed just 12-of-25 pass attempts for 91 yards against Penn State. He also suffered a shoulder injury, which puts his status for Saturday's game in question.
If he can't go, previous starter Joe Milton will reclaim that role, at least temporarily.
The main bright spot for the Wolverines the past two games has been running back Hassan Haskins. He's posted back-to-back 100-yard rushing games and scored a combined three touchdowns.
The Terrapins (2-2) lost to Indiana 27-11 on Saturday after having their previous two scheduled games canceled due to COVID issues.
Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa struggled after the layoff, as he completed fewer than half of his 36 pass attempts and was picked off three times. Tagovailoa threw three touchdown passes without an interception in the team's previous outing against the Nittany Lions.
"Every time he gets to play, it's an opportunity to grow and learn," coach Mike Locksley said. "Our quarterbacks gain valuable experience through playing the game and that's the only way you really get better."
Tagovailoa will try to get the ball in the hands of wide receiver Dontay Demus Jr. Demus has caught a touchdown pass in three consecutive games.
"I embrace the role of being a role model in our room," Demus said. "I try to be more consistent and show guys how to move and how to be able to work on the field and make plays. I don't simply want to be the leader, I want to set good examples."