The 2015 AP preseason poll saw Ohio State, TCU and Alabama as the top three teams in the country.
Alabama, who was No. 3 in that poll, eventually won the College Football Playoff against Clemson, who was ranked at No. 12 in the preseason poll.
This year, Michigan is ranked No. 3 in AP’s preseason poll, and why they are ranked that high is beyond me.
Michigan finished the season 10-3 after a huge victory against Florida in the Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Day. But just because they won 10 games and defeated a typically high powered SEC team does not mean they deserve a top three — or even a top five — preseason ranking.
Before I go in depth with this, let’s recap the rest of the top 10: Alabama and Clemson are one and two, with no surprise. With Michigan at three, Florida State is right behind them at four, followed by LSU, Oklahoma, Baylor, Tennessee, Ole Miss and Houston.
I would say the only team above that is a questionable top 10 team, other than Michigan, is Tennessee. You could also argue Ole Miss, but that’s a debate for another day.
Coming off a 12-2 season, and a blowout victory in the Rose Bowl, I think Stanford deserves the No. 3 spot over Michigan. With Heisman runner-up running back Christian McCaffrey returning for at least one more season, Stanford is going to be scary in 2016.
I love the Maize and Blue, but Michigan has some serious question marks heading into the season.
First and foremost, who will be Michigan’s starting quarterback?
I believe it’s bound to be John O’Korn, a transfer from Houston. Senior Shane Morris just doesn’t have it; if he did he probably would have played last season in the Minnesota game when Jake Rudock was injured. Wilton Speight is a candidate that most think will get the starting job, but O’Korn seems like the way to go, in my opinion, as of now. Whoever the starting quarterback is, he will have to play lights out all season in order for Michigan to live up to the hype of being No. 3.
Another question mark is the front seven. How will the defense look with practically all of Michigan’s linebackers graduated? Desmond Morgan, Joe Bolden, James Ross and countless other defensive players are gone. I think many of the incoming freshman will contribute early, especially top recruit Rashan Gary, but there’s no telling how they will adjust from high school to a place like Michigan. It’s only a matter of time at this point.
Regardless of how things pan out early on, Jim Harbaugh and Co. still have these things to prove. The Wolverine’s schedule is pretty weak until Oct. 29 at Michigan State, so I don’t think we will see how they truly play until then. The Ohio State Buckeyes have also defeated Michigan in 10 of their last 11 matchups. They play OSU in the Horseshoe this year, a place Michigan hasn’t left with a win since 2000. The Wolverines will have to win at least one of these games in order to stay in the thoughts of the College Football Playoff Committee, if they are even in those thoughts that deep into the season.
With the questions that won’t be answered until the season begins, putting Michigan in the top three right now is a bit of stretch. With the return of Jourdan Lewis, Jabrill Peppers, Jake Butt and the plethora of Wolverine receivers, I think they should at least be in the top 15, but not the top three.