It's unanimous, the Michigan Wolverines are the eighth-ranked team heading into 2012 according to not only the Associated Press poll, but according to USA Today and ESPN polls.
But how could a team that didn't win its own conference, the Big Ten, or division, the Legends, be ranked above other squads that won conference and division titles?
It's not as complex as one might think. Remember, the Wolverines posted an 11-2 record in 2011 under first-year coach Brady Hoke—a drastic turnaround from three dismal seasons under former coach Rich Rodriguez. A once-laughable defense under the old regime turned into a top-25 power. Michigan allowed just 17.4 points per game a year ago, sixth-best among FBS schools.
Not a bad turn of fortune compared to the dark days under Rich Rod, right?
Then, the Wolverines toppled the Virginia Tech Hokies, then ranked No. 11, in the 2012 BCS Sugar Bowl, 23-20. It was a statement win for Hoke. It was a statement win for the Michigan fanbase—one which helped loyal Maize and Blue supporters forget three years of agony under a heavily-criticized former coach.
Is Michigan overrated? The Wolverines certainly aren't underrated, evident by their preseason spot in the polls—which could be viewed as a little generous.
Let's take a look at how Michigan, which looks to return to being "Michigan," claimed the No. 8 spot in the polls.