The yearly Cleveland.com Big Ten football preseason poll came out Wednesday morning, and it has Michigan finishing in the middle of the pack in the division — fourth in the Big Ten East behind Ohio State, Penn State and Indiana.
The Buckeyes were named the unanimous favorite to not only be at the top of the division, but also the entire conference, with all 34 voters picking Ohio State to win the Conference Championship once again. It would be the fifth consecutive Big Ten Championship for them if they were to win it this season.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin was picked to finish atop the Big Ten West division with 29 first-place votes. The other five first-place votes went to the Iowa Hawkeyes.
And just for the sake of transparency and so you don’t think the poll is biased towards OSU, the article states, “Cleveland.com picked up the responsibility for organizing the poll for posterity when the Big Ten dropped it 11 years ago. The panel included at least one beat writer from all 14 Big Ten teams and a few who cover the entire league or have a national perspective.”
But getting back to Michigan — Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines cannot afford to finish fourth in the division. It would be an improvement from a season ago, but it wouldn’t be hard to improve from a 2-4 season where your two victories were against sub-.500 teams. If Harbaugh wants to keep his job, they absolutely have to do better than fourth in the East, even with a brand new defense and a new full-time starting quarterback.
If this preseason prediction holds true, athletic director Warde Manuel will have some decisions to make this winter.
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