The never too early 2013 College Football Top 25

Submitted by robbyt003 on January 8th, 2013 at 2:40 PM


1. Alabama - Big surprise

2. Oregon

3. Stanford

4. Ohio State

12. Notre Dame

18. Wisconsin

20. Nebraska

22. Northwestern

23. Michigan

The Wolverines are hoping they'll make the same improvement other recent teams have made in their coach's third season. Michigan went 8-5 in coach Brady Hoke's second season and never really seemed to recover from its 41-14 loss to Alabama in the opener. The good news is juniorDevin Gardner got some experience at quarterback after Denard Robinson was injured midway through the season. Gardner went 3-2 as a starter, completing 59 percent of his passes with 11 touchdowns in the five games he played under center. The Wolverines might have to replace four starting offensive linemen if junior left tackle Taylor Lewan leaves for the NFL draft. Six starters are coming back on defense, but they'll miss cornerback J.T. Floyd and safety Jordan Kovacs. Michigan's schedule won't be easy in 2013, with games at Penn State, Michigan State and Northwestern and home games against Notre Dame, Nebraska and Ohio State.



January 8th, 2013 at 3:17 PM ^

Well, couldn't you say the same thing about Ohio?  Hell, really any team in the B1G?  I guess they had a close win over a decent UW team on the road.  And doesn't it matter that the most 'decent' teams we played on the road were all in the top-10 and three in top-5 at the end of the season?  I mean, I know what you're saying, but I really do believe this team is a much better team than than #23 next year.  A lot of that is based on our decent efficency stats and the underperformace against predicted success with those same stats, and some of it is just the eyeball test. 

If Denard doesn't go down against Neb when we're outgaining them, do you think we win that game?  Maybe, and I'll go as far as to say probably.  If Denard doesn't melt down against ND, do you think we win that game?  Maybe, and I'll go as far as to say probably.  If Borges doesn't go batshit crazy after leading at half against Ohio, do we win that game?  Maybe.  Just maybe that time.  The point is that we didn't get run out of any stadium the entire year except Alabama. 

Sometimes I feel the eye test is a little under-used.  Sure 'finding a way to win' is a very important and admirable aspect of a team, and is totally neccsary to winning championships.  But basing everything on 'just finding a way to win' over more than one or two games means you end up with a number 1 ranked team that has no place actually being number 1 and results in a terrible national title game.  Long story short, I think we should be higher.  Not that it matters much because I think we will be higher by end of the 2013 season.


January 8th, 2013 at 2:47 PM ^

For next year I would rather start at 23 rather than too high, maybe our guys can come out with a chip on their shoulder and give them some motivation for the offseason (if they even need any)


January 8th, 2013 at 3:40 PM ^

Their best offensive lineman is gone off a poor offensive line, their workhorse RB and only back to get carries this year left early for the draft, their only consistent receiving threat left early for the draft, they benched their redshirt junior QB in the bowl game for a redshirt freshman who barely had more passing yards than said RB that left early, and they are bringing back the worst offensive coordinator in the B10. I would not be surprised if they get shut out in at least 4 games next year.


January 8th, 2013 at 4:34 PM ^

I don't think we will lose, but I don't think it will be easy. They are still going to have a stout defense and their offense was horrendous this year and we barely squeaked it out at home. Also we lose basically our entire oline and our only proven rushing threat. I wouldn't be surprised to see another 12-10 type of game.


January 8th, 2013 at 2:50 PM ^

We're starting in the Perfect Spot... Albeit unsure if it's well deserved. The schedule is C+ compared to this year's A/A-... We could run the OOC with resistance on the ND game only.

Entering the Conference we should handle with the way our team is developing. I'm so excited to see next year's defense. Especially assuming Countess bounces back fine... Next year should be our 2012 ND year!

Ron Utah

January 8th, 2013 at 4:25 PM ^

I thought when you capitalized "Perfect Spot" that it was referring to somewhere on a girl's...nevermind.

I think the schedule is much more than a C+; NW will be a tough game next year at their place, Sparty will make life difficult before losing, and Penn State away is a real challenge.  Ohio, ND, and Nebraska are very good teams that will threaten Hoke's unblemished Big House record.

I think this year's schedule was an A, next season's is a B+.

And I do believe we should probably be ranked closer to #15, but we have to prove it.

Zone Left

January 8th, 2013 at 2:50 PM ^

For once, Michigan is seriously underrated. We lost to three of the top four teams in the country, and could have won two without stretching anyone's imagination.

9-10 wins is pretty likely, which translates to about 6-15 depending on the timing of losses. OSU and ND are going to be strong. Nebraska might be good. Everyone else on Michigan's schedule has serious problems. Michigan needs to replace a lot of lineman, but given the pedigree of the replacements and underperformance of non-Lewan lineman, I'm optimistic about at least a push in performance. Subtract Alabama, and we're already at 9 wins.


January 8th, 2013 at 4:02 PM ^

I don't get the Nebraska concerns.  What changes are they going to incorporate over the offseason to keep their defense from hemorraging points?  Myself, I am much more worried about a stumble on the road at Northwestern next season than the Huskers at home.

Zone Left

January 8th, 2013 at 6:22 PM ^

I understand, but Nebraska is still the third or fourth best team in the conference. Taylor Martinez will be a senior and they rounded into form really well until the Wisconsin game.

Northwestern has a really nice thing going, but they always are one or two bounces away from things going pretty wrong for them. They never have great depth.



January 8th, 2013 at 2:51 PM ^

Not surprising, in my opinion. Michigan didn't really beat anyone of note. They lost to 5 tough teams (or 4 plus Nebraska), but they didn't really beat anyone of note. "Good losses" don't really mean a whole lot if there are no good wins in the mix, either.

I think they'll finish higher than 23 next season, but Michigan has earned a reputation for mediocrity that's going to take a while to turn around.


January 8th, 2013 at 3:47 PM ^

Northwestern was a good win, or a win against a good team.  N'W went 2-0 against the SEC, beating two SEC bowl teams.  Of course, it's too early to say how good Michigan will be next year.  Swinging another recruit or two, especially a tailback, could impact things.


January 8th, 2013 at 3:10 PM ^

I'm surprised with the Wisconsin ranking. They lost 5 games this year too or 6? And only made the Rose because of I eligible teams.

I also think ND will end up lower than that. But I understand the ranking based on this season.


January 8th, 2013 at 4:12 PM ^

I, too, was surprised by the ranking for Wisconsin. They didn't exactly light the world on fire this season and will have a new coaching staff next year. I admit that I have no idea what their schedule is like for 2013 -- knowing Wisconsin the non-conference schedule will be an absolute joke, though.

EDIT: Well, I actually went ahead and read the article at the link and now I see why they have Wisco so high: they do not play Michigan, Michigan State or Nebraska next season. So, they play N'Western, Iowa and Minnesota from the Legends along with playing in the craptastic Leaders division. So, yeah, I can see a "rebound" year in the cards for Wisconsin given the lousy schedule they will be facing; 10 wins seems pretty likely given that sh*tty schedule.


January 8th, 2013 at 3:20 PM ^

Speaking of Lewan, when is he planning to make his announcement?  I assume he's gone, but am a little surprised he hasn't said so yet.


January 8th, 2013 at 3:21 PM ^

This list seems more like a knee-jerk response to this year's bowl season than an honest attempt at evaluating teams' 2013 prospects. I bet if UM had pulled it out against South Carolina, we'd be around 15 on this list (and so would they).


January 8th, 2013 at 3:25 PM ^

Three things:

1. Underrated as always, we should be over Wisconsin with their new coach, and losing Ball.

2. A&M should be rated over Stanford, actually quite a few teams should be rated over Stanford, but A&M has Johnny Football. plus wtf did Texas do to get rated #11? They should be in the low 20s.

3.Our schedule will be easy next year, at least significantly easier than if was this year. No Bama, 2 bye weeks, and our toughest opponents at home? Do want.

turd ferguson

January 8th, 2013 at 3:24 PM ^

Thanks, ESPN, for sentences like these:

After playing in three consecutive BCS bowl games and winning the Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio this season, ...

The Fighting Irish were probably a year ahead of schedule in reaching Monday night's Discover BCS National Championship.

I hate ESPN so much.


January 8th, 2013 at 3:54 PM ^

As early as this poll is, if we played the 2013 season right now and just used the available predictor numbers, there would be six games where were are favored by ten or more points (Central Michigan, Akron, UConn, Minnesota, Indiana and Iowa) and two more where we would be favored by less than ten (Nebraska, Ohio State). In addition, there are three games that (Penn State, MSU, Northwestern), based on way-to-early predictors, would essentially be "pick 'em" games where were are favored (or not) by less than a point. The only game where we would be a decided underdog would be ND given the ratings right now. Granted, it's not exactly kosher to apply present data to future events like this, but it is what we have.

 In other words, available data would predict eight "lean wins" right now, three toss-ups and one "lean loss" essentially. We don't really have much to go on, and it is hard to take a preseason poll put out less than a day after the previous season's finale all that seriously, but based on ratings that exist now, we would probably be underrated at #23 with the 2013 schedule (and applying the 2012 data of those teams), as some have mentioned.


January 8th, 2013 at 3:59 PM ^

Another thing to consider is that Michigan appears less vulnerable to offseason attrition this year than any other year in recent memory.  We have much more depth than we're used to having, our coaching staff is stable, we only have one player likely to declare for the draft, and we don't seem to have as many key guys with legal issues, academic problems, transition issues, etc.  Obviosuly you can never really predict what will happen when you're dealing with a pool of 85+ college kids, but this off-season I think the odds are good that other teams will be weakened by attrition a lot more than we will.