30 days before we play, and 4 days before we start practice...yet we have a poll. Michigan clocks in at #8 in the USA Today Coaches Poll, and Alabama is #2. This locks in the prime time showdown on September 1st as a battle between top 10 teams...and that's exactly what the "powers that be" wanted. It's going to be a ridiculous spectacle. It's going to be a huge Saturday night opening audience. It's going to be a chance for Michigan to make a grand opening statement.
Three other Big Ten teams are in the top 25: Wisconsin (12), MSU (13), and Nebraska (16). Ohio State is not eligible for this poll, nor is Penn State. Which makes me wonder, what other Big Ten team is going to crack the top 25? Nobody else even appears in the "others receiving votes" section, but I envision a couple finding themselves ranked as we hit mid-October:
The Hawkeyes (SB Nation Preview), despite having running back trouble like Rich Rod's Michigan teams had cornerback trouble, have Northern Illinois (at Soldier Field), Iowa State, Northern Iowa, Central Michigan, Minnesota, and a bye week before travelling to East Lansing on 10/13. If they can find a way to get past the seemingly yearly hiccup that is Iowa State, they should be 5-0 in mid-October, good enough for a ranking in the late teens to early 20's, depending on style points.
And I'm high on Northwestern (Chicago Now Preview) this year. Transfer 6'5'' 220lb WR Kyle Prater got a pass from the NCAA so he could play this year, and he'll be getting balls from Kain Colter. Kain played early in the season in place of the injured Dan Persa, and showed he has a Tebow-esque skill set. Their season starts at Syracuse before returning home for Vandy, BC, South Dakota, and Indiana. Then they travel to Penn State and Minnesota. They could easily be 7-0 before hosting Nebraska on 10/20, at which point you'll be sick of hearing about Pat Fitzgerald and the Wildcats' cinderella story.
Yes, it's just a poll, and it's a preseason one at that. But what the hell else do we have to talk about?