ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Michigan officially finished the college football season as the No. 3 team in the country -- right where it belonged after a Big Ten title and trip to the playoff.
The Wolverines slot in behind the two national championship game participants -- Georgia and Alabama -- and just ahead of fellow playoff participant Cincinnati.
This is the highest postseason ranking for Michigan since it finished No. 1 overall in the AP poll in 1997. It’s the fifth time the Wolverines have finished ranked in the top 20 under Jim Harbaugh.
Michigan’s resume was clearly deserving of the No. 3 spot, as it went 12-2 and won the second-best conference in the sport. Victories over No. 6 Ohio State (by 15 points) and No. 23 Iowa (by 39 points) in back-to-back weeks proved to be the highlight of the season.
But Michigan proved to be overmatched by Georgia in the Orange Bowl. The eventual national champions rushed out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back. Only when Kirby Smart decided to take his foot off the gas pedal did the Wolverines find some footing and managed to avoid a complete blowout.
The Bulldogs ultimately avenged their SEC title game loss to Alabama and captured the crown. Michigan isn’t quite on their level, but 2021 still proved to be a major step in the right direction.
Michigan will lose a ton of defensive talent in 2022, but the offense returns mostly intact. That, along with another top-10 recruiting class and a favorable early schedule, should set the team up for another strong season.