January 18, 2014 at 6:42 pm

Angelique S. Chengelis

Too early to tell if Michigan football warrants Top 25 ranking in 2014

Tight end Devin Funchess and Michigan finished last season with a 7-6 record and a loss in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl to Kansas State. (John T. Greilick / Detroit News)

It is way too early for ESPNís ďway-too-earlyĒ Top 25 college football rankings that appeared Friday, and itís way too early to talk about a way-too-early poll.

But itís never way too early to talk college football.

There are some interesting items of note included in ESPNís way-too-early Top 25 poll.

Considering the general bashing the Big Ten is subjected to ó mostly earned ó on a national basis, itís surprising to see five Big Ten teams ranked in the Top 25 with Michigan State (No. 5), Ohio State (13), Wisconsin (14), Iowa (21) and Michigan (24).

This is not an argument against those five, just a curiosity. After all, there were only three Big Ten teams in the final Associated Press Top 25 last season, with Michigan State leading the way at No. 3. Ohio State (12) and Wisconsin (22) followed.

Michigan, coming off a 7-6 season, is ranked somewhat generously in the ESPN poll, considering how the final month of the regular season and the bowl game were such a struggle.

Maybe the way-too-early No. 24 ranking is because of the Wolverinesí recent hire of offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, who spent the last two seasons with Alabama and has been praised for his development of quarterbacks.

Or maybe itís because the assumption is Michigan canít possibly continue its skid entering coach Brady Hokeís fourth season, not with the talent that returns in the fall with considerable playing experience from last season.

Obviously, itís too early to tell what Nussmeierís influence might be. And itís certainly too early to tell just how good the Wolverines can be this fall. Spring practice begins Feb. 25 and concludes with the game on April 5, and that will provide a better indication.

But until then, that wonít stop any of us from making way-too-early predictions.


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