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Posted on Sat, May 19, 2012 : 1:45 p.m.

Michigan football is Big Ten's 'team to beat,' says ESPN.com

By Nick Baumgardner

The hype surrounding the 2012 Michigan football team can officially begin.

Or, at least, continue at a rather fervent pace.

ESPN.com released its updated "Way-too-early" Top 25 for the 2012 season, and the Wolverines wound up at No. 9 on the list.

ESPN analyst Mark Schlabach lists Michigan as the early odds-on favorite for a Big Ten title next season.

"(Michigan coach Brady) Hoke wasn't satisfied because Michigan didn't win a Big Ten championship (in 2011)," Schlabach wrote. "With quarterback Denard Robinson and 13 other starters coming back, Michigan looks like the team to beat in the Big Ten in 2012."

The Wolverines moved up five spots from ESPN's previous ranking, leapfrogging rival Michigan State -- which now sits at No. 11.

ESPN pegs Wisconsin at No. 15, Ohio State at No. 17 and Nebraska at No. 24.

Michigan won't have to wait long to prove if Schlabach knows what he's talking about. The Wolverines open the season Sept. 1 against defending national champion Alabama, a club he currently slots as the No. 3 team in America.

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan sports for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at nickbaumgardner@annarbor.com and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.

Comments

D21

Mon, May 21, 2012 : 7:02 p.m.

TiM. Have a great summer before playing against Bama. Win or lose, we are behind you all the way.

7718

Sun, May 20, 2012 : 2:33 a.m.

DR and 13 other returning starters, it should be great 2012

Terry Star21

Sat, May 19, 2012 : 7:39 p.m.

Although most of us do not take stock in preseason rankings, it sure feels great to be honored with respect. Can't express it enough, absolutely great time to be a Michigan Football Faithful. MgoBlueForTiM.....I'm opting for the seat cushions this year...