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Michigan football has no business being ranked or favored against Indiana

Wolverines still in top 25 after loss to Michigan State

Giles Jackson #0 of the Michigan Wolverines runs the ball during the first quarter against the Michigan State Spartans at Michigan Stadium on October 31, 2020 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Giles Jackson #0 of the Michigan Wolverines runs the ball during the first quarter against the Michigan State Spartans at Michigan Stadium on October 31, 2020 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (2020 Getty Images)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – When the new AP poll came out Sunday and Michigan was still included, it seemed like there must be some mistake.

If the team we all watched Saturday is one of the 25 best in the country, the game is in a sad state. No matter how much the Spartans improved in a week, Michigan shouldn’t have gotten physically dominated on both sides of the ball by a team that lost to Rutgers.

Based on how MSU played -- specifically the defensive front and the passing attack on offense -- this might not look like a bad loss by the end of the season, But right now, Michigan only has two data points on its resume, and the most recent one is a home loss as a 21-point favorite.

Dominique Long #9 of the Michigan State Spartans misses a tackle on Joe Milton #5 of the Michigan Wolverines during the fourth quarter at Michigan Stadium on October 31, 2020 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Dominique Long #9 of the Michigan State Spartans misses a tackle on Joe Milton #5 of the Michigan Wolverines during the fourth quarter at Michigan Stadium on October 31, 2020 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (2020 Getty Images)

The other -- a once-impressive victory against ranked Minnesota -- lost the rest of its luster Friday night.

Minnesota blew a 17-point fourth quarter lead against Maryland and fell to 0-2 on the season. By the way, that same Maryland team lost to Northwestern by 40 points the previous week.

So tell me how Michigan can be ranked ahead of Northwestern, for example. Even worse, how did Michigan open as a favorite in the upcoming road game against Indiana.

The Hoosiers took Michigan’s spot at No. 13 in the AP poll, and they have actually earned their ranking through two weeks.

Michael Penix willed Indiana to a top-10 win against Penn State in the opener, and then the Hoosiers handled Rutgers with ease Saturday.

Sure, Penn State is sitting right there with Minnesota at 0-2, but there’s a big difference between hanging around against Ohio State and losing to Maryland.

Maybe it’s the fact that Michigan hasn’t lost to Indiana since 1987, but that won’t matter when the two teams line up this weekend.

Michigan couldn’t handle the praise that came with beating up on Minnesota, and that led to a crushing loss. Jim Harbaugh is hoping that will serve as a wakeup call for his team, but poll voters and oddsmakers didn’t seem to get the memo.

Rankings and point spreads don’t ultimately matter, but in a way, they encapsulate Michigan football’s last two decades: a lot of hype and even more letdown.


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