Followers of the University of Michigan football team this season have learned two things. One, they’re improving, and two, they’re not there yet.
Saturday’s 58-0 win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers was certainly looked impressive, and it was, but this Wolverines team hasn’t been fully tested yet. Not even close. They may now be ranked 11th in the AP Poll, and 12th in the USA Today Coaches Poll, but they’ve really done nothing to separate themselves from anyone ranked in the 20-30 range.
When it comes down to it, Michigan has beaten five unranked teams at home. Sure, you might classify Notre Dame and San Diego State as “solid” teams, but a team that had so many question marks heading into the year shouldn’t be ranked in the top 15 by simply beating these teams. Maybe (maybe, maybe) you could justify the spot if they had throttled Notre Dame (or won in anyway that didn’t include 99% luck and magic), but even then it would look like a stretch.
Let’s look at the collective resumes of Michigan’s five opponents. When we remove the games versus the Wolverines, we find that they’re a combined 13-6. That’s not too bad in itself, but that record only includes three wins versus BCS conference teams with winning records. SDSU beat a 3-1 Washington State team, and Notre Dame has beaten a 3-2 Pittsburgh team, and a pretty good 4-1 Michigan State squad (the only “good” win of any of Michigan’s opponents). Outside of these three games, the quality of Michigan’s opponents’ opponents is pretty thin. Here’s a list of the remaining wins:
That’s four FCS schools, Army, three MAC schools, and two BCS conference schools without winning records.
I’m really waiting to see how Michigan performs on the road before I jump on the “OMG Legends Division Champions” bandwagon. If Michigan can put together quality wins in their next two games (at Northwestern and at Michigan State), then I’ll (reluctantly) buy into a top 15 ranking.
The Big Ten may not be the power that it once was, but UM still has at least four game remaining against teams that are as good as (or better than) anyone they’ve already played. The test is coming, and while they may prove to be deserving of a high ranking, they aren’t there yet. Not even close.