Coming off of a Big Ten Championship season, the Michigan Wolverines will undoubtedly have to reload. Offseason departures across the defense and, most notably, a Heisman runner-up defensive end in Aidan Hutchinson will force new defensive coordinator Jesse Minter to search for replacements. However, the cupboard is far from bare.
Still several months out from the college football season, a handful of news outlets have posted their way-too-early college football rankings; Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines sit favorably in most.
Pro Football Focus (PFF) has Michigan at No. 5, behind only Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia and Clemson. Other notable teams include Lincoln Riley’s new-look USC Trojans at No. 8, Riley’s former team in the Oklahoma Sooners at No. 9, Notre Dame at No. 11 and Wisconsin at No. 21.
With only two Big Ten teams in the top 20, it’s safe to say PFF sees the Michigan/Ohio State matchup as being for all the marbles yet again this fall.
ESPN also dropped their way-too-early rankings this week. They have the same top three as PFF (Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia) but have the Wolverines all the way down at No. 9. In their reasoning, they mention Michigan has to replace both coordinator positions as Mike Macdonald left for the Baltimore Ravens and Josh Gattis left to join the Miami Hurricanes.
In what is among the bigger surprises, ESPN has Michigan State at No. 8, one spot ahead of Michigan. Meanwhile, PFF didn’t even have the Spartans in their top 25.
Other notable teams on ESPN’s list include Notre Dame at No. 6, Clemson at No. 11 and Iowa at No. 25. ESPN clearly sees the Big Ten as a three-team race between the Buckeyes, Spartans and Wolverines.
There’s a long way to go until we see action on the field, so take these rankings with the largest grain of salt. However, it’s interesting to see how the media sees these teams this far out.