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Posted on Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 3:03 p.m.

Michigan football team cracks top 15 in two early 2012 polls, but trails Michigan State

By Kyle Meinke

There are a couple of "way-too-early" rankings out there, and they are, as billed, way too early.

But, for what it's worth, ESPN's Mark Schlabach ranks Michigan No. 11 heading into next season. Alabama, the reigning national champs and the Wolverines' opening opponent next season, comes in at No. 3 and in-state rival Michigan State is No. 9.

National runner-up LSU is No. 1.

What Schlabach had to say about Michigan:

Brady Hoke might not have been Michigan's first choice to replace Rich Rodriguez as coach, but he turned out to be the right one. In his first season, Hoke guided the Wolverines to their first 11-win season since 2006, defeating Virginia Tech 23-20 in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. Just as important, Hoke ended UM's seven-game losing streak against rival Ohio State, defeating the Buckeyes 40-34 in the regular-season finale. The Wolverines will have to replace several key linemen — center David Molk, offensive tackle Mark Huyge and defensive tackles Mike Martin and Will Heininger — but most of their key skill players are coming back. Quarterback Denard Robinson made good strides in offensive coordinator Al Borges' balanced attack, and defensive coordinator Greg Mattison rebuilt one of the country's worst defenses from 2010. Michigan opens the season against Alabama in Arlington, Texas, and plays road games at Notre Dame, Nebraska and Ohio State.

Meantime, USA Today's Kelly Whiteside is a little more optimistic about the Wolverines, ranking them No. 9. That's second among Big Ten teams, trailing only Michigan State at No. 6. USC is No. 1.

Whiteside's write-up about Michigan: "Wolverines were better than expected this season and, with QB Denard Robinson, should continue to climb."

Michigan finished this season No. 9 in the USA Today coaches poll and No. 12 in the Associated Press poll. It is expected to return seven starters on offense and eight on defense, although it will lose experience and talent from both lines.

The Wolverines open the 2012 season against Alabama in Arlington, Texas, on Sept. 1.

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.



Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 5:12 a.m.

The way i see it,Michigan was un ranked going into 2011 season, and look where Hoke & co. got them, an 11 win season,and a BCS bowl win,with mostly WCIMFH players ! now with a year under his belt, and his recruits coming in ,where should they be rank ? We don't really know,but i do know Hoke is a players coach,and they players love him,and have bought in,and the future looks very good !! and i'm not under the influence of any Kool aide,or Cool aide.. GO BLUE..


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 2:48 p.m.

A long eay to go here. MSU will have more impact roster changes than Michigan. Check out the preseason rankings as they make more sense. Much better breakdown.


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 9:56 p.m.

Yawn. Remember how meaningless the pre-season polls were (#5 Florida State, #1 Oklahoma, among other overrated programs)? This is the pre-pre-pre-season poll, and an absolute waste of time. Don't mind it. Sportswriters with interest in college football are just gnawing on this season's remains before the long winter famine. You'll forget these rankings by the end of the month, if not sooner, and we'll get fresh meaningless poll rankings come August. Kyle, please update us on recruiting and give us some opinion on the BCS meetings and where you'd like to see the college football post season go. Personally, I'd like to see the BCS bowl games keep as tradition cites (the Rose "Pac-12 vs. Big Ten," Orange "ACC vs. At-Large", Sugar "SEC vs. At Large", and Fiesta "Big 12 vs. At-large") but have the winners play in a Final Four of sorts. A one-week, two-weekend Final Four consisting of three extra games. Anyway, here's hoping for some interesting off-season football stories!


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 4:37 p.m.

2012 is shaping up to be a year of managing losses due to graduation -- Luck at Stanford, Griffin at Baylor, Wheeden at Oklahoma State, Moore at Boise State, Cousins at MSU, James at Oregon, a ton from Alabama's defense ... it's going to be an interesting season. I'll say this -- if Dantonio manages the graduation losses and engineers another 10+ win season ... then I tip my hat to him.

Frustrated in A2

Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 4:19 p.m.

Cool, Go Green! I like to see the Big 10 as a whole do well so that we look good compared to the SEC and the other championship winning conferences.


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 4:57 a.m.

67-31-5, that would make one sour I guess. Of your precious 4 game win streak, 3 were against the WCIMFH, don't get too excited, things will get back to normal real soon. Although I truly hope MSU does well and succeeds and wins bowl games, I just don't want it to be at U-M's expense, that's all, I don't want to hate State.

Lorain Steelmen

Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 5:04 p.m.

Ken Boyd, Mick's post referred to the UM-msu series. But you responded to the UM-ohio series. Do you have sputum in your eyes? Mick, If you take Carr '02 thru RR '10, Tatoo U, went 9-1. That represents our 'John Cooper years', (Carr = no intensity, RR = no clue). Hoke will NOT tolerate losing records, to either Tatoo U, or Moo U a word, those days are OVER! As the kids like to say, 'It's Great to BE, ...a Michigan Wolverine!'

Ken Boyd

Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 3:15 p.m.

Again, the same old cool-aid drinking sputum.Let us live in the present world, not the leather helmeted past.We are not that good yet. Hoke could be in trouble next year if he loses more than three games, at least with the cool-aid drinkers. And Mick, last I heard, the boys in Columbus were saying the same thing about,"getting back to normal" with regards to us. Just sayin'.


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 4:18 a.m.

Just because you have played doesn't mean you are proven....Denard has played and proven he likes to turn the ball over and be very inaccurate as a passer. MSU returns 9 starters on a top 5 defense that no one in the big 10 could move the ball on except for wiscy. Mich loses Denards savior (Hemingway) the leader at center, and there 2 best d-lineman. Good luck Sincerely, 4 IN A ROW


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 4:03 a.m.

1st off, MSU is rated way too high, without a proven QB, I just don't see it. Whenever MSU has been rated that high in the preseason rankings they usually end up falling flat on their face, maybe Dantonio has them in better shape to sustain success than in the past 40+ years but I still don't see them as a top ten team, top 20 most likely, we'll see. As for the poster who goes by the screen name Aarox, I don't ever recall a positive comment about M Football from you, always a contrarian and constantly putting down U-M yet your picture has an M logo on it, I don't get and it doesn't make sense, I wonder if you're really a fan at all. U-M will be a top ten team next season, how high they can go will depend on Denard and the linemen we need to replace on both sides of the ball, 10+ wins at least next year for sure IMHO. Hoke & Co. mean business and they're really good at their craft!


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 6:44 a.m.

Agreed on ALL accounts.


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 1:25 a.m.

well, my comment is: beat Bama and that ranking will go up. Until then, it's all just talk and interest. But how in the world is Sparty rated that high? Losing top D line talent and the QB, not to mention running back. Foreman is gone.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 1:45 a.m.

fwiw, Ken above got it right. I find our cockiness a little embarrassing. We are MEEEECHGAN? Com'on. I'm as proud as the next alumnus but really. We have gotten pretty intolerable at times. That is all. Go Blue!


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 3:46 p.m.

-Hey Ken, it's Kool Aid, not cool aid and I don't drink it, stop stating so when you don't know what you're talking about. -It's not just the 70's, it's the whole 1900's and up until the WCIMFH, the 2000's as well. -If we did go 9-3 with that schedule then I think that is a pretty good season w/the recruits Hoke has coming in for greater success in the future, I think we go at least 10-2 BTW.

Ken Boyd

Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 3:08 p.m.

@Mick, Maybe aaron is not a cool-aid drinker like most Wolverine fans. Fact is times are different now. It is not the 70's anymore, and we cannot expect to dominate the B1G in the same manner.I think we are over rated by a lot. I see a drop off next year in win production since Dennard will start as our QB again, and he has never shown any ability to move the ball against elite speed based defenses( Bama, Va Tech, MSU, ) I see us at 9-3 next year.


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 6:42 a.m.

Yes Mick I do too. Could it be a Sparty disguised as a Wolverine??? Things that make you go hmmmm


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 4:09 a.m.

There you go again aarox, cutting down U-M while lauding MSU, anyone else see a pattern here with this guy?


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 3:53 a.m.

There have been more than a few articles on the subject of MSU in '12 in the national media. Unless you and I know more than a whole bunch of sports writers, State will be better. And apparently not a little bit. I'm getting a little frustrated with them getting better by leaps and bounds and we're struggling for respect.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 11:25 p.m.

6th and 9th way, way too high for MSU!!!


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 3:50 a.m.

I heard that the last two times. Hope you are right. State is getting ugly good and I think they gain more than they lose for next year.


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 1:26 a.m.

aarox, You're right about everything you said...except for the comment about UM losing to MSU again next season. Won't happen. Not in the Big House.


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 12:51 a.m.

Of course. We are MEEEECHIGAN! It is not possible for MSU to be better than us. They can beat us as often as they want and we will still be better because we are MEEEEECHIGAN!! I look forward to another disappointing loss to them next year. But we will still be the better team!

Captain Dave

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 10:38 p.m.

Tide loses a lot of talent next year and gets beat in first game next season in Dallas.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 9:59 p.m.

The Tide will roll in the season opener in Arlington.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 8:42 p.m.

Wow, 9th and 11th is way too high for Michgan.