Sports

OPINION: Michigan football hasn’t earned its elite status

Two things about college football get an incredible amount of attention, but often ultimately mean little when all is said and done, and football seasons have been completed.

One is national signing day. The other is preseason polls.

So that should be understood what this could all mean when the cold winds of November and early December hit, and the major issues of the college football season have been decided, especially here in Big Ten Country, and in this state, where “game on” between Michigan and Michigan State has never had more meaning.

But how can Michigan possibly be ranked five full spots ahead of Michigan State in the first of the major football polls, the USA Today Coaches Poll, which was released on Thursday?

Michigan is ranked No. 8 and MSU is 13th.

That is laughable.

It’s a classic case of Michigan getting too much respect after one year under head coach Brady Hoke, albeit a very good one, and the Spartans not getting their due for they have accomplished under Mark Dantonio the last four seasons, especially the past two.

It’s not like the cupboard is bare in either program. Both teams lost their share of very good players, but if anything MSU had more top ones to begin with.

There always seems to be these memory lapses. About how Michigan State hasn’t only beaten the Wolverines the last four years, they’ve clocked ‘em. Other than one overtime game, the games haven’t even been close.

It is forgotten how it was Michigan State, not the Wolverines, who won the Legend Division title and played in the first-ever Big Ten championship game in 2011 — despite a decidedly more difficult conference slate (Ohio State and Nebraska on the road, Wisconsin rather than cupcake Illinois from the other division). Continued...

How defense wins championships, and that the Spartans’ defense ranks among the very best in the nation, led by Michigan’s own personal 6-7, 280-pound nightmare, William Gholston.

Andrew Maxwell is replacing Kirk Cousins at quarterback for MSU The only reason he hasn’t played more is he has been behind the QB on the depth chart who has beaten Michigan the last three years. Maxwell was every bit as highly regarded as the Wolverines’ Denard Robinson coming out of high school. If he doesn’t work out, which is unlikely, his backup, Connor Cook, is a capable player.

This isn’t meant to diminish Hoke, Robinson or what the Wolverines accomplished last season, or what they have done on the recruiting front, which is impressive.

But the Wolverines haven’t earned the status they are getting compared to Michigan State coming into this season.

The Wolverines were a “surprise” team last season. Nobody thought they would go 11-2. Nobody has given credit to Robinson more than I have, but Michigan State has totally controlled him.

Michigan’s defense made a marked improved last season, largely because of the play of Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen up front. They have departed.

Michigan doesn’t have Nebraska and Ohio State at home this season like 2011. Michigan State does.

I do feel Michigan has the potential to win a national title within the next four years. I do feel Michigan is capable of beating the Spartans this season, and proving last year wasn’t just a “surprise,” but a trend by playing in the Big Ten title game.

But the probability of Michigan State beating Michigan is at least equal. Same with the Spartans moving into national championship contention this year.

The Spartans have winning pedigree under Dantonio. Continued...

It’s like recruiting day. Michigan always wins in the preseason polls.

But until the Wolverines do it on the field, actually beat Michigan State, and/or finish ahead of the Spartans in the conference standings, Michigan is living in the past.

A past that fades more into the rearview mirror each passing year.

Pat Caputo is a senior sports reporter and a columnist for The Oakland Press. Contact him pat.caputo@oakpress.com and read his blog at theoaklandpress.com. You can follow him on Twitter @patcaputo98.
Two things about college football get an incredible amount of attention, but often ultimately mean little when all is said and done, and football seasons have been completed.

One is national signing day. The other is preseason polls.

So that should be understood what this could all mean when the cold winds of November and early December hit, and the major issues of the college football season have been decided, especially here in Big Ten Country, and in this state, where “game on” between Michigan and Michigan State has never had more meaning.

But how can Michigan possibly be ranked five full spots ahead of Michigan State in the first of the major football polls, the USA Today Coaches Poll, which was released on Thursday?

Michigan is ranked No. 8 and MSU is 13th.

That is laughable.

It’s a classic case of Michigan getting too much respect after one year under head coach Brady Hoke, albeit a very good one, and the Spartans not getting their due for they have accomplished under Mark Dantonio the last four seasons, especially the past two.

It’s not like the cupboard is bare in either program. Both teams lost their share of very good players, but if anything MSU had more top ones to begin with.

There always seems to be these memory lapses. About how Michigan State hasn’t only beaten the Wolverines the last four years, they’ve clocked ‘em. Other than one overtime game, the games haven’t even been close.

It is forgotten how it was Michigan State, not the Wolverines, who won the Legend Division title and played in the first-ever Big Ten championship game in 2011 — despite a decidedly more difficult conference slate (Ohio State and Nebraska on the road, Wisconsin rather than cupcake Illinois from the other division).

How defense wins championships, and that the Spartans’ defense ranks among the very best in the nation, led by Michigan’s own personal 6-7, 280-pound nightmare, William Gholston.

Andrew Maxwell is replacing Kirk Cousins at quarterback for MSU The only reason he hasn’t played more is he has been behind the QB on the depth chart who has beaten Michigan the last three years. Maxwell was every bit as highly regarded as the Wolverines’ Denard Robinson coming out of high school. If he doesn’t work out, which is unlikely, his backup, Connor Cook, is a capable player.

This isn’t meant to diminish Hoke, Robinson or what the Wolverines accomplished last season, or what they have done on the recruiting front, which is impressive.

But the Wolverines haven’t earned the status they are getting compared to Michigan State coming into this season.

The Wolverines were a “surprise” team last season. Nobody thought they would go 11-2. Nobody has given credit to Robinson more than I have, but Michigan State has totally controlled him.

Michigan’s defense made a marked improved last season, largely because of the play of Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen up front. They have departed.

Michigan doesn’t have Nebraska and Ohio State at home this season like 2011. Michigan State does.

I do feel Michigan has the potential to win a national title within the next four years. I do feel Michigan is capable of beating the Spartans this season, and proving last year wasn’t just a “surprise,” but a trend by playing in the Big Ten title game.

But the probability of Michigan State beating Michigan is at least equal. Same with the Spartans moving into national championship contention this year.

The Spartans have winning pedigree under Dantonio.

It’s like recruiting day. Michigan always wins in the preseason polls.

But until the Wolverines do it on the field, actually beat Michigan State, and/or finish ahead of the Spartans in the conference standings, Michigan is living in the past.

A past that fades more into the rearview mirror each passing year.

Pat Caputo is a senior sports reporter and a columnist for The Oakland Press. Contact him pat.caputo@oakpress.com and read his blog at theoaklandpress.com. You can follow him on Twitter @patcaputo98.

Detroit Sports By Bleacher Report


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