It should not come as a surprise that Michigan is sitting outside of the top 15 in several different preseason ranking lists. CBS Sports ranked all 130 college football teams on Wednesday and placed the Wolverines at 17.  

I think you could make an argument that Michigan belongs inside the top 12, but that's about as high as most people would be willing to go. When you look at Michigan's AP rankings at season's end over the last five years, No. 17 sounds about right.

YearRecordFinal AP Ranking

2015

10-3

No. 12

2016

10-3

No. 10

2017

8-5

NR

2018

10-3

No. 14

2019

9-4

No. 18

There is a lot of optimism surrounding the 2020 version of Michigan's team, and rightfully so. It's year two under Josh Gattis, wide receivers Nico Collins and Ronnie Bell, along with several talented sophomores and freshmen look extremely dangerous on paper, the running back room is loaded and the defense should be fast and aggressive under Don Brown yet again.

Then there are the question marks. Offensive line coach Ed Warinner has to find four new starters along the offensive line, Michigan is going to be breaking in a new quarterback without spring football and potentially with an abbreviated fall camp and Ohio State seems to be getting better and better.

Michigan is coming off a disappointing 9-4 season which included bad losses to Wisconsin, Ohio State and Alabama. However, a lot of talent is coming back and even more young talent is ready to take a step forward. 

Michigan has a chance to create some momentum early with a season-opening road trip to Washington if the schedule remains intact. After a couple of tune up games against Ball State and Arkansas State, Big Ten play starts with a home matchup against Wisconsin. 

The opener feels like a 50-50 type of game, but this year's version of Washington is not the Huskies of a few years ago. Chris Petersen is gone, as is quarterback Jacob Eason, and UW will be breaking in a new offense. If that game takes place and Michigan can find a way to win, confidence could be riding high come week four.

That game gives U-M a chance to make its presence felt on a national stage early, but the opposite is also true. If U-M goes out to Seattle and loses against the Huskies, there's going to be a palpable buzz early about Jim Harbaugh's shortcomings and lack of a contract extension if that doesn't get done between now and then.

Big Ten Rankings According To CBS Sports 130

3. Ohio State

9. Penn State

11. Wisconsin

12. Minnesota

17. Michigan

18. Iowa

35. Indiana

52. Michigan State

62. Illinois

78. Nebraska

85. Purdue

110. Maryland

111. Northwestern

120. Rutgers