Michigan football is Big Ten's 'team to beat,' says ESPN.com
The hype surrounding the 2012 Michigan football team can officially begin.
Or, at least, continue at a rather fervent pace.
ESPN.com released its updated "Way-too-early" Top 25 for the 2012 season, and the Wolverines wound up at No. 9 on the list.
ESPN analyst Mark Schlabach lists Michigan as the early odds-on favorite for a Big Ten title next season.
"(Michigan coach Brady) Hoke wasn't satisfied because Michigan didn't win a Big Ten championship (in 2011)," Schlabach wrote. "With quarterback Denard Robinson and 13 other starters coming back, Michigan looks like the team to beat in the Big Ten in 2012."
The Wolverines moved up five spots from ESPN's previous ranking, leapfrogging rival Michigan State -- which now sits at No. 11.
ESPN pegs Wisconsin at No. 15, Ohio State at No. 17 and Nebraska at No. 24.
Michigan won't have to wait long to prove if Schlabach knows what he's talking about. The Wolverines open the season Sept. 1 against defending national champion Alabama, a club he currently slots as the No. 3 team in America.