Michigan outside of top 20 in most early 2013 rankings
Michigan began the 2012 season ranked eighth in the country, but stumbled to an 8-5 finish.
Expectations won't be nearly as high for 2013.
The Wolverines lose five starters from their defense and six from their offense (including Denard Robinson), and early rankings for next season slot them anywhere from 16th to unranked.
A look at some of the early Top 25s out there:
Mark Schlabach pegs Michigan 23rd, and behind Ohio State, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Northwestern. Reasoning:
The Wolverines are hoping they'll make the same improvement other recent teams have made in their coach's third season. Michigan went 8-5 in coach Brady Hoke's second season and never really seemed to recover from its 41-14 loss to Alabama in the opener. The good news is junior Devin Gardner got some experience at quarterback after Denard Robinson was injured midway through the season. Gardner went 3-2 as a starter, completing 59 percent of his passes with 11 touchdowns in the five games he played under center. The Wolverines might have to replace four starting offensive linemen if junior left tackle Taylor Lewan leaves for the NFL draft. Six starters are coming back on defense, but they'll miss cornerback J.T. Floyd and safety Jordan Kovacs. Michigan's schedule won't be easy in 2013, with games at Penn State, Michigan State and Northwestern and home games against Notre Dame, Nebraska and Ohio State.
ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg ranks Michigan 22nd. Fellow Big Ten Blog scribe Brian Bennett is slightly higher on the Wolverines, slotting them at 19th.
National Football Post's Dave Miller: 16th.
Athlon Sports' Steven Lassan: 23rd. He writes:
Even with significant personnel losses, don’t count out the Wolverines from the Big Ten title picture. Denard Robinson will be missed, but the offense shouldn’t suffer much with Devin Gardner stepping in at quarterback. Finding a running back that can shoulder 20-25 carries a game, along with rebuilding the offensive line will be the top priorities for coach Brady Hoke and coordinator Al Borges this spring. The defense needs to replace Will Campbell and Craig Roh on the line, but this unit will get a boost from the return of cornerback Blake Countess from a torn ACL suffered in the season opener against Alabama.
USA Today's Paul Myerberg: Unranked. Although, Michigan was one of 18 schools listed as "also under consideration."
The Big Lead's Ty Duffy: 20th. Logic:
The Wolverines remain about two years away from critical mass with Brady Hoke’s recruits. Michigan will be a very young team next year. That said, those young players are well coached, competed with some very good teams this season and face a schedule that appears much kinder in 2013. Al Borges will also have an entire year to prepare Devin Gardner for quarterback duty.