ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Michigan football plummeted in the polls after its loss to Wisconsin, and this weekend is the first real opportunity for the Wolverines to make up some of that lost ground.
A 52-0 beatdown of Rutgers did little for the voters because, well, it was Rutgers. Michigan even got jumped by a UCF team that was much less impressive against Connecticut.
No. 19 Michigan will have a chance to climb up a few spots if it can take down No. 14 Iowa this weekend.
The Hawkeyes are still undefeated following wins over Miami (Ohio), Rutgers, Iowa State and Middle Tennessee. Though Michigan opened as a touchdown favorite, the line has dropped all the way down to -3.5 as of Thursday morning.
The college football world doesn't believe in Michigan, and this is a chance to earn back some trust.
How high could Michigan climb with a win? There's a realistic chance the Wolverines could claw their way back into the top 15.
Michigan would certainly pass Iowa with a head-to-head win. No. 18 UCF could be an upset candidate this weekend, as the Knights travel to Cincinnati to battle the 3-1 Bearcats.
A top-10 matchup between No. 7 Auburn and No. 10 Florida would only help Michigan move up if Auburn beats Florida handily. The Tigers already have wins over Oregon and Texas A&M this season, so they wouldn't fall below Michigan.
So, if Iowa, UCF and Florida all lose, Michigan could rise to No. 16 in the country. That leaves a pair of Pac-12 night games with some upset potential.
No. 13 Oregon would be much more worried about Cal if Golden Bears starting quarterback Chase Garbers wasn't out with a shoulder injury. But Cal has already upset Washington on the road and has yet to allow more than 24 points in a game this season.
Garbers' injury hurts the upset potential in this matchup, but Cal has pulled plenty of surprises the last two seasons.
Stanford doesn't seem like a good bet to pull an upset, either, but it gets to host No. 15 Washington in the late-night game.
Stanford has been terrible this season, losing in blowout fashion to Southern Cal, UCF and Oregon before scraping out a victory against Oregon State. It will be without starting quarterback K.J. Costello once again in this game.
The Wolverines have a lot of ground to make up in terms of debunking their reputation of flopping in big games. Saturday is an opportunity to chip away at that perception and move back up in the polls.