Though the Big Ten has postponed the football season until either the winter or spring, the conference was well-represented in the first edition of the Associated Press Top 25, and Michigan checked in at the No. 16 position.
This year, the AP Poll is going to look far different than it has in the past. Only the SEC, ACC and Big 12 are slated to play football this fall, so it's likely that teams from the Big Ten and PAC 12 will quickly fall from the rankings once the season begins. But until that time comes, Michigan is ranked as the No. 16 team in the country.
After appearing in the National Championship Game last season, Clemson assumes the No. 1 slot in the first AP Poll of the year. Returning quarterback Trevor Lawrence is expected to lead the Tigers to another potential College Football Playoff appearance, and his team is closely followed by Ohio State at No. 2.
In fact, Clemson received a total of 1,520 points in determining its ranking, whereas the Buckeyes wound up with 1,504, giving the Tigers a 16-point edge and the top position in the country. Clemson received 38 first place votes, while Ohio State picked up 21.
Apart from Clemson and Ohio State, only two other programs received first place votes: Alabama with two and LSU with one. Those teams sit at No. 3 and No. 6 respectively.
As for the rest of the Big Ten, Penn State is ranked No. 7, Wisconsin is at No. 12, Minnesota at No. 19and Iowa at No. 24. Indiana also received several votes but did not make the threshold for inclusion into the Top 25.
As of now, many are pushing for the Big Ten to go forward with a proposed winter football season. Previously, Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm released a proposal for a spring football schedule, but there has not been any official word on either of those plans. Since the Big Ten and the PAC 12 are not playing football in the fall, any team from those two conferences that made the initial preseason Top 25 will be ineligible to receive further votes according to Ralph Russo of the Associated Press.
So, that would make an extremely short-lived appearance for Michigan as a ranked team in 2020.
Did Michigan receive a fair shake at No. 16?
Over the offseason, the Wolverines lost 10 players to the NFL Draft and several more were picked up as undrafted free agents. Since that time, both Jalen Mayfield and Ambry Thomas have declared for the 2021 NFL Draft, and even more attrition is expected.
Though no formal announcements have come forth yet, it is expected that a combination of Nico Collins, Aidan Hutchinson, Kwity Paye and possibly Nick Eubanks could all make similar decisions and declare for next year's draft in lieu of a postponed Big Ten football schedule. Michigan was always expected to field a young team in 2020, but the departure of any of those players would force even more inexperienced Wolverines into playing time whenever the team hits the field.
Given the amount of talent that Michigan will not have the next time the team plays, the No. 16 ranking is a little bit too high in this circumstance. Michigan is ranked higher than Minnesota, but many viewed the Golden Gophers as a darkhorse team with a chance to challenge for a Big Ten title. Granted, that was before Rashod Bateman opted out of the 2020 season, but Minnesota is strong on both sides of the ball and was poised to make a run at a championship this year.
Michigan is set to break in a new starting quarterback in front of an entirely new starting five on the offensive line. There are holes on the team's defense that, while potentially filled with quality players who have seen the field before, are inexperienced when compares to starters on other teams. This recipe is one that would likely precipitate growing pains, and the No. 16 ranking is a bit too bullish for what the next iteration of a Michigan football team will look like.
What do you think about the initial AP Top 25 poll? Do you agree with where Michigan was ranked? Disagree? Let us know!