Here's how Michigan football could be ranked in top 10 by end of this weekend

Wolverines currently No. 14 in AP Poll

Josh Metellus celebrates a tackle while playing Nebraska on Sept. 22, 2018, at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor,. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - A third of the college football regular season is already in the books, and last weekend was packed with upsets and wild finishes.

Five ranked teams lost to unranked opponents, and four of them were directly ahead of Michigan in the AP Poll.

As a result, the Wolverines jumped from No. 19 to No. 14, hurdling the four teams that lost along with Wisconsin. The polls don't technically matter yet, but cracking the top 10 is a definite step in the direction Michigan wants to go.

This weekend is another opportunity for madness to take over. There are several matchups between ranked teams and a few other intriguing matchups that could vault Michigan further up the rankings.

Here's how Jim Harbaugh's team could end up in the top 10 by Sunday afternoon.

Michigan beats Northwestern

Game details: 4:30 p.m. Saturday in Evanston, Illinois

Karan Higdon #22 of the Michigan Wolverines runs the ball to score a first quarter touchdown against the Western Michigan Broncos at Michigan Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

This debate goes out the window entirely if Michigan can't take care of business against a team that has lost to Duke and Akron on its home turf the last two games.

Northwestern is coming off a bye week, but this is a matchup in which Michigan has a talent advantage in all three phases.

The Wildcats always play Michigan tough in Evanston. The Wolverines have made the trip to Ryan Field three times this decade: a 42-24 win, a triple overtime victory and a 10-9 game decided by a failed two-point conversion.

Northwestern was on a nine-game winning streak before a Sept. 8 upset loss to Duke, so Pat Fitzgerald has enough weapons to pull an upset. Michigan has a recent history of struggling on the road, and this will be its first test away from Ann Arbor since the season-opening loss at Notre Dame.

If Michigan gets in the win column on the road, it will be another sign that Harbaugh has turned things around since the opener.

Texas Tech beats West Virginia

Game details: Noon Saturday in Lubbock, Texas

Will Grier #7 of the West Virginia Mountaineers drops back to pass against the Tennessee Volunteers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 1, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

No. 12 West Virginia comes into the week ranked two spots ahead of Michigan, but there's too much ground to cover without the Mountaineers dropping a game. While Michigan is only 29 points behind Central Florida for the No. 13 spot, there's a wide gap between the top 12 and everybody else.

Through three games, West Virginia hasn't truly been tested, winning a pair of games against struggling Power Five teams in Tennessee and Kansas State. But its three wins have been convincing, and quarterback Will Grier is a true Heisman Trophy candidate, which helps with the AP voters.

Texas Tech is certainly capable of pulling an upset. Last week, the Red Raiders went on the road and smashed No. 15 Oklahoma State by 24 points. A win over a second straight top-15 team with give Texas Tech a huge boost, but with a 20-point loss to Ole Miss on its resume, it likely wouldn't vault from No. 25 to ahead of Michigan.

Ohio State beats Penn State

Game details: 7:30 p.m. Saturday in University Park, Pennsylvania

Trace McSorley #9 of the Penn State Nittany Lions celebrates after rushing for a 12 yard touchdown in the first quarter against the Appalachian State Mountaineers on September 1, 2018 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo…

It would be more beneficial for Michigan in the long-term if Penn State upsets Ohio State, but the quickest route to the top 10 involves the Nittany Lions losing.

No matter what happens this weekend, Michigan won't jump Ohio State in the rankings. But a Penn State loss, even at home to an elite team, would likely drop PSU just below Michigan in the AP Poll.

Penn State is unbeaten heading into the matchup, but it hasn't been a smooth ride. Appalachian State took the Nittany Lions to overtime in Happy Valley, and even Illinois held a brief second-half lead over Penn State.

A loss to Ohio State wouldn't be much of a blemish on Penn State's resume, but a small drop due to uninspiring wins could be expected.

Notre Dame beats Stanford

Game details: 7:30 p.m. Saturday in South Bend, Indiana

Bryce Love #20 of the Stanford Cardinal celebrates after scoring on a seven yard touchdown run against the USC Trojans in the first quarter of an NCAA football game at Stanford Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Palo Alto, California. (Photo by…

This is a tricky one, because there's no guarantee either team would drop below Michigan with a loss. But there's almost no chance Notre Dame -- with a head-to-head victory over this month -- would drop below Michigan with identical records and no major victories for the Wolverines.

Stanford already has wins over Southern Cal and Oregon, so it wouldn't tumble too far down the rankings. But a fall from No. 7 to No. 10 or 11 wouldn't be unprecedented, especially if Notre Dame wins by a larger margin than the 24-17 final against Michigan.

Voters have been more willing to move Michigan up the rankings because its last three victories have been decisive. The Wolverines beat Western Michigan, SMU and Nebraska by a combined score of 150-33.

Though Northwestern isn't likely to be blown out at home, Michigan would get style points for a comfortable win against a pesky Big Ten team on the road. That, combined with a Stanford loss, would probably put the two very close together in the polls.

BYU beats Washington

Game details: 8:30 p.m. Saturday in Seattle, Washington

Jake Browning #3 of the Washington Huskies rushes away from Darrell Williams #49 and Andrew Williams #79 of the Auburn Tigers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 1, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

It doesn't seem likely that BYU could pull another shocking road upset, but if the Cougars can knock off then-No. 6 Wisconsin, a win at No. 11 Washington is possible.

BYU has been very up-and-down this season, sneaking past a bad Arizona team before losing at home to California to start the year. It then went into Madison, Wisconsin, and outplayed the Badgers for a full 60 minutes.

Washington is in a very similar position to Michigan, dropping the season opener to what is expected to be one of the top teams in the nation: Auburn. A second loss would certainly drop the Huskies below the Wolverines, assuming Michigan survives its trip to Northwestern.

Michigan's ranking in Week 5 of the college football season doesn't really matter, but it would represent how far the team has come since an ugly trip to South Bend. 

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