The Sporting News Preseason Top 25 is out, and it includes the Michigan Wolverines in a high ranking position.
Michigan finished last season ranked number three in the Associated Press poll behind the Alabama Crimson Tide and Georgia Bulldogs, and have seen their stock rise ever since despite a poor showing in the national semifinal against the Bulldogs.
Now, Michigan is on pace to receive high marks yet again heading into the 2022-2023 season, if the latest Sporting News poll is any indication.
Is Michigan Better Off as a Favorite or Underdog?
Last season, the Wolverines surpassed everyone’s expectations en route to their first Big Ten championship since 2004, and now the question on everyone’s minds is whether or not Jim Harbaugh’s team is better off as an underdog or a favorite.
Most fans think back to 1997, when the Charles Woodson-led, National Champion Wolverines were ranked #14 in the preseason poll, only to finish at the top of the heap.
If the Wolverines are to repeat as Big Ten Champions in 2022, it looks as though they will have to do it as one of the favorites, according to an early poll from one of the country’s most well known sports media outlets.
Michigan Ranked in the Top Ten in Preseason Sporting News Poll
The Wolverines clocked in at number six in the Sporting News preseason rankings, with writer Bill Bender explaining why Michigan is worthy of the lofty prognostication.
Michigan has undergone some dramatic changes, but they still have what it takes to compete for championships according to Bender.
What changed? Offensive coordinator Josh Gattis left for Miami, and defensive coordinator Michael Macdonald returned to the Baltimore Ravens. Sherrone Moore and Matt Weiss are the new co-offensive coordinators, and Jesse Minter takes over the defense.
Jim Harbaugh interviewed for the Vikings job, but opted to return to Ann Arbor. Virginia center Olusegun Oluwatimi was a good pickup in the transfer portal.
This year is a big one for the program to continue positive momentum going forward, Bender added, and the battle for starting quarterback between Cade McNamara and J.J. McCarthy looms large.
“Lowdown: Michigan needs to build on its first College Football Playoff appearance. The quarterback battle between Cade McNamara and J.J. McCarthy will heat up in fall camp, but another timeshare is likely,” Bender said.
“Donovan Edwards and Blake Corum form a strong backfield, and Ronnie Bell returns after missing last year with a torn ACL. The defense has big holes to fill, but a soft schedule early in the season helps.”
The five schools ranked ahead of the Wolverines in the Sporting News poll include: Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia, Clemson, and Texas A&M.
The Buckeyes are ranked #2 while the Bulldogs are #3.
“Obviously seeing Ohio State at No. 2 and Georgia at No. 3 is interesting given how Michigan fared against them both last year, but both squads are extremely loaded,” wrote Brandon Brown of FanNation.com.
“Every team ahead of Michigan usually is, and has recruited better than the Wolverines recently.”
Still, recruiting stars don’t matter as much as people seem to think when it comes to lacing them up between the lines.
Michigan returns plenty of established, All-Big Ten caliber players such as McNamara, Corum, offensive tackle Ryan Hayes, wide receiver Andrel Anthony and others who were quality recruits, but not necessarily five stars.
As always, time will tell, and it all could come down to ‘The Game’ in Columbus, Ohio on November 26, 2022.
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