The Associated Press released its annual preseason College Football Top 25 Poll in mid-August. Michigan football landed at number two in the country behind the back-to-back defending CFP National Champion Georgia Bulldogs and ahead of THE back-to-back Big Ten East runners-up THE Ohio State University.
Michigan’s number two ranking is the highest it has come in on the preseason AP Poll since Desmond Howard’s 1991 Heisman trophy-winning season.
There are a lot of critics both in the media and from other fan bases that are quick to say that the Wolverines are unworthy of its ranking. They’ll say things like:
- Michigan football is 0-2 in the College Football Playoff.
- Jim Harbaugh is only 1-6 in bowl games as Michigan Head Coach.
- They couldn’t even beat TCU (TCU lost to Georgia 65-7).
While all of that is factual, the preseason AP poll is a barometer of how the national media feels about Michigan Football going into the 2023 season. The voters took into account both tangibles and overall vibes surrounding the program. Let’s take a brief look into why Michigan is worthy of the preseason hype.
According to ESPN’s Bill Connelly, the Wolverines are 5th in the nation in returning production at a whopping 81% of total production returning from the 2022 team. The closest Big Ten team to Michigan on the list is Rutgers at 23rd in the nation.
Of course, Michigan will be without Jim Harbaugh for the first three games of the season as well as OC Sherrone Moore for the season opener against ECU. Even without those key pieces of the coaching staff, the Wolverines should cruise into the Big Ten conference schedule because of the continuity on the roster.
Michigan football has the best 1-2 punch at running back in the country, and it isn’t close. Senior Blake Corum surprised many when he made the decision to return for the 2023 season. Junior RB Donavan Edwards has also been electric whenever he touches the ball. Michigan will continue using the formula that has worked the last two seasons, run the ball down their opponents’ throats and make the defense pay when they load the box by using play action for big plays through the air.
Jr Quarterback JJ McCarthy returns for his second year as a starter, which hasn’t happened much in the Jim Harbaugh era. McCarthy played arguably his best against Ohio State to clinch the Big Ten East and his worst in the Fiesta Bowl against TCU (two interceptions returned for TDs). It is reasonable to believe that McCarthy will be more consistent as the unquestioned starter and he’ll take the next step and become one of the best quarterbacks in not only the Big Ten but the entire country.
The offense gets a lot of love (and for good reason), but the defense looks to be just as good, if not better than it was in 2022.
The Wolverines welcome back DT Kris Jenkins, CB Will Johnson, and S Rod Moore amongst a plethora of other returning starters. The defense has a bad taste left in its mouth after its showing against TCU, and that could prove dangerous to opposing offenses.