Big 10

Athlon slots Michigan No. 5 in early poll, picks Ohio State to win Big Ten

May 16, 2016

ANN ARBOR — Athlon has boarded the Michigan hype train.

The annual college football preview magazine released its preseason top 25 on Monday, slotting Michigan at No. 5.

It’s the latest in a number of high early marks for Michigan as Jim Harbaugh’s second season in Ann Arbor approaches.

“Jim Harbaugh already has Michigan back among the nation’s top teams,” the magazine wrote. “The Wolverines have to find a quarterback, but this team can lean on its defense — led by new coordinator Don Brown — to push Ohio State for the Big Ten title.”

Last week, ESPN pushed Michigan up to No. 3 in its early top 25 poll for next season. Noted college football prognosticator Phil Steele puts Michigan at No. 7, while CBS ranked the Wolverines at No. 6.

Athlon, however, does not believe the Wolverines will win the Big Ten next season. That vote went to Ohio State (No. 3 overall).

Ohio State lost a whopping 12 players to the NFL draft earlier this spring and returns just five starters overall.

But, the Buckeyes’ 2014 (No. 3 overall), 2015 (No. 7) and 2016 (No. 4) recruiting classes have been outstanding.

“The Buckeyes have the fewest returning starters (six) of any Power 5 team. However, thanks to elite recruiting classes, Ohio State should be able to reload in a hurry,” Athlon wrote. “And it certainly doesn’t hurt that the Buckeyes can lean on J.T. Barrett until the rest of the pieces fall into place.”

Michigan will open its 2016 season Sept. 3 against Hawaii at Michigan Stadium.

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