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Michigan football ranked behind Ohio State in ESPN’s 2023 preseason poll

The 2022 season just came to a close, and the Wolverines are already being disrespected by national media.



Michigan Wolverines linebacker Taylor Upshaw (91) celebrates his interception against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the fourth quarter at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022.

Last night, the 2022-23 college football season officially ended with No. 1 Georgia’s 65-7 win over No. 3 TCU in the National Championship game. With the 2022 season in the books, many — including ESPN — are already preparing for the 2023 season. When ESPN’s preseason poll was released, there was one major flaw: Ohio State is ahead of Michigan football.

ESPN’s top-5 heading into 2023

Here are the top-5 teams in ESPN’s initial preseason poll:

    1. Georgia (15-0 in 2022)
    2. Ohio State (11-2 in 2022)
    3. Michigan (13-1 in 2022)
    4. Florida State (10-3 in 2022)
    5. Alabama (11-2 in 2022)

As you can see, aside from the Georgia Bulldogs being No. 1, this poll looks kind of odd. The first thing that appears to stick out is Florida State being ranked in the top-5 after a narrow Cheez-It Bowl win over 6-7 Oklahoma in December of last year. That being said, FSU could be a threat, so you never know.

When taking a closer look, and even more egregious mistake appears: Ohio State is ranked ahead of Michigan football. Why? We could not tell you, and frankly, I doubt ESPN could explain it either.

U-M has sustained success against the Buckeyes this decade.

First of all, Michigan has a case to be the nation’s No. 2 team heading into 2023. Before last night, I thought U-M might have a case for No. 1; however, Georgia’s 65-7 National Championship win has completely changed my mind – I’d be happy with No. 2 if UGA is No. 1. That being said, there is zero reason for the Wolverines to be behind Ohio State to open 2023.

Over the past two years, one thing has become clear: Michigan football is just better than Ohio State right now. Not only have the Wolverines beaten the Buckeyes twice in a row, but frankly, neither game was even all that close. In 2021, No. 2 Ohio State headed to Ann Arbor to face No. 5 Michigan and lost by 15 points. After Ohio State’s 42-27 loss in 2021, most thought that OSU would come back with a vengeance in 2022.

After starting the season with an 11-0 record and a No. 2 ranking, Ohio State’s success was short-lived against the Wolverines. Not only did Ohio State lose ‘The Game’ for the second-straight year, but the score was even more lopsided despite the game being played in Columbus. Michigan’s 45-23 victory over Ohio State sent the Wolverines to the Big Ten Championship game with a 12-0 record — the program’s first 12-0 start since 1997.

The last time Ohio State beat Michigan was in 2019 when Justin Fields was under center. This decade, the Buckeyes are winless (0-2) against Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines.

Michigan football should be favored to win the Big Ten

The last two seasons of Michigan football have taught us a lot, but most importantly, it is that the Wolverines finally made the jump. Since Jim Harbaugh was hired in late-2014, Michigan has won 10-or-more games in five of its seven full seasons. In four of Michigan’s five 10-win seasons, the Wolverines were competing for a CFP berth and Big Ten Championship heading into the Ohio State game.

Michigan football is now 2-2 in Big Ten East Title-deciding games — its two losses were in 2016 and 2018, and its two wins came in 2021 and 2022. With Michigan’s two wins over Ohio State came two blowout wins in the Big Ten Championship game and CFP berths.

Heading into the 2023 season, Michigan football is absolutely loaded across the board. While U-M is losing some key contributors from the 2022 squad, it is bringing in some solid freshman talent as well as seven game-ready transfers via the No. 4 transfer class in the nation. If that wasn’t enough, Michigan football will likely retain both coordinators, its head coach, and many of its stars from last season.

Yesterday, Michigan’s Heisman-contending running back — Blake Corum — announced that he will be staying in Ann Arbor for one final season in the Maize and Blue. This means that on top of the Wolverines’ incredible offensive line, Michigan football brings back Blake Corum (RB), Donovan Edwards (RB), and JJ McCarthy (QB). The Wolverines’ offense is going to be scary good next fall, which is a dangerous thing to pair with an elite-level defense.

As we turn our attention to 2023, one thing has become apparent: despite Michigan’s two-straight wins over Ohio State, two-straight Big Ten Championships, and two-straight CFP berths, the Wolverines will still be disrespected by the national media. If Michigan football wants to prove that it belongs, it will need to beat Ohio State for a third-straight year. This time, U-M gets the Buckeyes in Ann Arbor.