Yes, there’s still a game to play in the 2016 college football season, but that’s not going to stop anybody from looking ahead to next year.
A few outlets have already released way-too-early Top 25s, including Athlon Sports and Sporting News.
Both have the Michigan Wolverines in the top 10, though not quite as high as you might expect given recruiting success and how close the team came to a playoff berth this season.
Athlon has UM at No. 10, with the following comments:
Jim Harbaugh has a major rebuilding project on his hands for 2017. The losses on both sides of the ball are heavy, but quarterback Wilton Speight is back from a promising first year as the starter, and the Wolverines have a solid stable of running backs to utilize.
Additionally, center Mason Cole turned down the NFL Draft for one more year in Ann Arbor. Cole’s return is critical for an offensive line that loses three other starters. Speight will be throwing to a revamped receiving corps, as Amara Darboh, Jehu Chesson and Jake Butt have each expired their eligibility. Each level of the defense suffered a significant loss, but coordinator Don Brown is one of the best in the nation and won’t let this group slip too much in overall production.
Chris Wormley, Ryan Glasgow and Taco Charlton depart in the trenches, all four starters in the secondary – including standout cornerback Jourdan Lewis – have expired their eligibility, and standout linebacker/safety hybrid Jabrill Peppers could declare for the NFL Draft.
Sporting News has Michigan a little higher, at No. 8:
The Wolverines lose a huge senior class, and the biggest challenge for Jim Harbaugh will be to retool the offensive line and secondary. Harbaugh, however, has recruited at an elite level, and that will show up.
The Wolverines also get the spotlight against Florida in Jerry World to start the season. The Wolverines should be good for 10 wins, but can they finish the job and win that first Big Ten title since 2004?
Next season should be very interesting in the Big 10. Penn State, Ohio State and Wisconsin all rank in the top 15 in both polls along with Michigan, and it shouldn’t take long for PJ Fleck to make the B1G West a little more interesting with Minnesota.
Only eight months until kickoff!