You know it’s a crazy season in college football when we’re lauding that fact that Florida and Michigan made the weekly Associated Press rankings, and bemoaning that Oregon is out of the rankings for the first time in six years.
But that’s the beauty of the game.
It’s like a wedding – something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.
SOMETHING OLD – Ohio State. Alabama. The old guard is still in this week’s polls, with the Buckeyes sitting atop the polls since the preseason.
SOMETHING NEW – Utah is the 10th-ranked team in the country. You have to hearken back to the Urban Meyer days when Utah football was nationally relevant. Oh, there’s been pockets here and there but this is the first season in a while that we’re talking about the Utes in the same sentence as “Pac-12 title” and, gulp, “College Football Playoff.”
SOMETHING BORROWED – Michigan State is the No. 2 team in the nation, borrowing a page from an era when the Spartans once played in the Game of the Century.
SOMETHING BLUE: As in Maize and Blue. Michigan is in the AP Poll for the first time since November of 2013. And that’s definitely due to the Jim Harbaugh Effect as Michigan traded off its reputation in being ranked No. 22 this week.
Or blue as in sad or sullen. Because if you believe that Michigan is the No. 22 team in the country, you’re looking through maize and blue glasses.
(For that matter, if you believe Wisconsin should be ranked you’re also delusional. Wins over Troy, Miami [Oh.] and Hawaii do not make up for a sloppy performance against Alabama).
But back to Michigan.
This is not a ranked team. Not yet, anyway. The good news is, like Notre Dame, the college football world is a much better place when Michigan is in it. Like Notre Dame’s subway alumni, the Wolverines truly have a national following with the most living alumni in the world.
But Michigan is overrated even at a modest No. 22. From an overall standpoint, voters got suckered by a 31-0 win over a ranked BYU team that came in 2-1 – but thanks to two miracle Hail Mary victories. Otherwise, Michigan has ho-hum victories over a 2-2 Oregon State team and against a 1-3 UNLV team.
From a more pointed standpoint, this is a flawed team. Despite Jake Rudock’s performance, the Wolverines have a quarterback issue. The transfer from Iowa is serviceable, not spectacular. He has repeatedly been off the mark through the first four games, even in the victory over the Cougars.
Eastern, Western and Central Michigan all have better total offense numbers than the Wolverines. Michigan is 84th in passing offense, 41st in rushing offense.
The fact that the Wolverines’ defense is sixth in the country in total defense is a blessing in disguise that helps offset those offensive numbers.
It’s a feel-good story, to be sure, with Harbaugh back and all of that. But it’s misleading. Look at the quality of opponent in this four-game stretch and tell me – do you really believe Michigan will still be ranked at the end of October as it is at the end of September? Can it go 3-1 against the likes of Maryland, Northwestern, Michigan State and Minnesota?
Don’t see it happening, not this year anyway.
Michigan came out of nowhere, almost literally, to earn a ranking this week. It wasn’t even in the Associated Press’ “also receiving votes” category the previous week and now it shoots into the poll at No. 22.
One good win.
But still overrated.