ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Don’t expect Michigan to fall out of the top 5 this week when the polls are released Monday. But don’t hold your breath waiting for the Wolverines to skyrocket, either.
Following Saturday’s 78-0 dismantling of Rutgers in New Jersey, No. 4 Michigan appears primed to make an upward move in the Associated Press and Coaches polls. But that move rests in the hands of the voters, and there doesn’t appear to be a lot of room in which to move.
Top-ranked Alabama is still Alabama, following a 49-30 win at Arkansas. No. 2 Ohio State, however, played less-than-stellar in a 38-17 win at home against Indiana, a week after steamrolling Rutgers, 58-0. No. 3 Clemson also rolled with a 56-10 win Friday at Boston College, and Washington blew out Oregon 70-21 on the road. The Huskies were ranked fifth in the AP Poll and sixth in the Coaches Poll. Houston, ranked No. 5 in the Coaches Poll, lost 46-40 to Navy, so Washington will be in the top 5 in both polls, as well.
So if the Wolverines hope to move up in the rankings, here is the key question: Could Ohio State’s slimmer margin of victory against Indiana drop the Buckeyes in the polls, and could that work in Michigan’s favor?
Michigan didn’t hold back anything against the Scarlet Knights. The Wolverines (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) raced to a 43-0 lead at halftime and continued to pour it on in the second half, and did it with only a handful of starters in the game.
Some might chide Michigan’s strength of schedule — or its lack thereof — as it has only one win over a ranked opponent and plenty of lopsided wins. But if Saturday’s blowout in northern New Jersey didn’t make the voters and college football take notice, then Michigan must simply keep dominating. This season, the Big Ten is definitely a “have vs. have-nots” conference.
After this weekend’s bye, the schedule appears favorable: the Wolverines host Illinois on Oct. 22, then travel to Michigan State the following week. Some perceive the remainder of the schedule — vs. Maryland, at Iowa, vs. Indiana in the first three weekends in November — as merely a tune-up for the annual showdown against Ohio State.