CBS' Bruce Feldman expects the Michigan football team to be good, but not national title good
The Michigan football team has been one of the favorites to capture the 2012 Big Ten title for months now.
Some have taken that even further lately, saying the Wolverines may also have what it takes to compete for a national championship.
CBSsports.com college football expert Bruce Feldman offered his take Friday, agreeing that Michigan will be solid next season, but not good enough for a national title run.
"I expect Michigan to be good again this year, but just not good enough on defense to be a Top 5 team," Feldman wrote in his weekend mailbag. "At this point, they don't have enough difference-makers to be a BCS title contender, especially along their defensive front.
"Maybe they'll surprise a lot of us though."
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
He admits Greg Mattison's transformation of the Wolverine defenders last season was remarkable, but still says the team was far from "those truly elite defenses we saw from Alabama or LSU."
He notes how Notre Dame racked up more than 500 yards against the Wolverines, how Michigan State ran for more than 200 and how Ohio State put up 34 points in the regular season-finale in Ann Arbor.
In Feldman's eyes, if Michigan is going to make the jump from Big Ten contender to national title contender, the defense will have to take another dramatic step forward.
A step he's not sure it can make.
"We'll find out right away if they're legit," Feldman writes. "Alabama has the most physical style in college football on both sides of the ball. The Tide has the country's best offensive line returning.
"I am very curious to see what kind of answers Mattison can come up with."
If it matters, Feldman's CBSsports.com colleague Brett McMurphy slotted Michigan at No. 10 overall in his January "way-early" Top 25 poll.
Michigan jumped from No. 108 to No. 6 in scoring defense a year ago?
Can it climb even higher next season?
We'll start getting answers on Sept. 1 at Cowboys Stadium.