Michigan might not be 11th or 12th best team in the country, but it has the resume
Jeff Sainlar I AnnArbor.com
The Wolverines, fresh off their 58-0 thrashing of Minnesota, shot up to 12th in the AP poll and 11th in the coaches poll. That's up from 19th in both last week.
It was the largest gain by any team in the country.
That, of course, elicits one basic question: Are the Wolverines overrated?
Of course they are, and by just about any stick of measure. Most who watch Michigan on Saturdays know there must be more than 10 or 11 teams better than the Wolverines right now.They're picking up momentum, but still have flaws, depth is a concern and they lack elite playmakers on defense. They're 5-0, but don't have a marquee win. The most balanced team they've played was San Diego State of the Mountain West Conference.
They haven't even played on the road yet.
That's not a top-10 team.
Yet, looking at their peers' resume, the Wolverines stack up favorably for where they're slotted.
The only 5-0 teams ranked lower are Georgia Tech, which is immediately behind them at No. 13 in the AP poll, and Illinois, which is 19th and has looked shaky.
As for Michigan's leap up the polls, here are the teams it surpassed in both rankings this week: South Florida, Baylor, Texas A&M, Florida, Virginia Tech, South Carolina and Nebraska.
What do those teams have in common? They all lost Saturday.
The only discrepancy was Arkansas, which is 4-1 and beat previously No. 14 Texas A&M, 42-38. Michigan hopped the Razorbacks in the coaches poll (they're 12th) but not in the AP poll (they're 10th).
So, that's how the Wolverines arrived at their lofty perch. They may not be the 11th- or 12th-best team in the country (they're not), but they do have the 11th- or 12th-best resume right now.
Pollsters -- almost all of whom either cover or coach one team -- tend to vote based on resume, not talent. That system is flawed (just ask Boise State or Utah or TCU or any other mid-major that's been excluded from deserved rankings in past years), but is what we have.
So, there Michigan sits -- and surely players and coaches are uncomfortable with it.
How do I know that without having spoken to them yet? Because they were uncomfortable last week with being ranked No. 19.
"I think we're vastly overrated," tight end Kevin Koger said last Monday. "For us to be in the Top 25 right now is kind of ridiculous."
Added defensive tackle Ryan Van Bergen: "Being ranked, I think it's a curse. Honestly, being ranked doesn't hold anything high in my standards. I would rather not be ranked until the end of the season."
Coach Brady Hoke, who gets a vote in the coaches poll, said he won't even look at the rankings until the end of November, adding, "Does it matter? It's not a big deal."
He also said he didn't vote last week for Michigan.
Wonder if he did after the Wolverines' historic rout of Minnesota? They might not deserve it, but their resume is growing, whether he likes it or not.