Where Michigan football ranks in different way-too-early top 25 polls for 2023

2022 was another good year for Michigan football with a poor ending.

The Wolverines went undefeated in the regular season for the first time since 1997 with wins against both Michigan State and Ohio State. The maize and blue won their second consecutive Big Ten title by defeating Purdue in the Big Ten Championship.

After Michigan’s historic run, it made its second consecutive College Football Playoff appearance. That’s where the wheels fell off.

Michigan lost to TCU, which was dismantled by Georgia in the title game, 51-45.

The Wolverines finished 13-1 for the 2022 season and 2023 looks bright —  barring what Jim Harbaugh decides to do after talking to the Denver Broncos.

Michigan will return J.J. McCarthy along with plenty of his weapons, including Blake Corum. Corum announced his decision to stay in Ann Arbor for the 2023 season on Monday The Wolverines’ offense has the potential to be as good as it has been under Harbaugh next season, which further explains why Michigan should be highly ranked going into the 2023 season.

We looked at various way-too-early top 25 polls for the 2023 football season. You can see below where Michigan slots in each of them.

247Sports - No. 3

Highest ranking: No. 1 on one ballot

One of us took the Wolverines at No. 1 given Michigan’s two-deep, led by J.J. McCarthy at quarterback and a host of talented ballcarriers. As long as Jim Harbaugh is the Wolverines’ head coach when the 2023 season kicks off, the Big Ten should once again go through Ann Arbor, as it has each of the past two seasons. For some reason, Michigan got away from its bread and butter in the playoff and for the second straight year, suffered a hard-to-stomach defeat. This team loaded up on portal players who will fill holes in the roster in a big way.

You can see the full top 25 here.

Athlon Sports - No. 2

With back-to-back East Division titles, and The Game in Ann Arbor late in the season on tap, the path to the Big Ten championship runs through Michigan in ’23. Quarterback J.J. McCarthy and running back Donovan Edwards headline coach Jim Harbaugh’s offense once again next fall, but the standout juniors will be operating behind a retooled offensive line that could feature three transfer starters, including former Stanford center Drake Nugent. Tight end Colston Loveland (16 catches) is a rising star. Michigan’s defense should rank among the best in the nation once again, especially with Will Johnson returning at cornerback after a standout freshman season, along with the continued development of linebacker Junior Colson, safety Rod Moore and linemen Mason Graham, Eyabi Okie and Derrick Moore.

You can see the full top 25 here.

Pro Football Focus - No. 2

Michigan proved last season’s Big Ten championship and playoff berth weren’t flukes, repeating those feats in 2022.

The Wolverines will return many key players from this year’s squad, including quarterback J.J. McCarthy, running back Donovan Edwards and cornerback Will Johnson.

The biggest returnee, though, is running back Blake Corum. The junior was my pick to win the Heisman Trophy this season after leading all players with a 95.9 grade. In fact, that grade ranks fourth among Power Five players since PFF began charting college football in 2014.

He’s my pick to win the Heisman next season.

While Corum’s return is massive for Michigan, it pales in comparison to head coach Jim Harbaugh’s looming decision. The Athletic reported that those close to Harbaugh believe it’s a “done deal” if he receives an offer to coach an NFL team. He’s reportedly interviewing with the Denver Broncos this week. Harbaugh responded to the rumors by saying, “I expect to coach Michigan in 2023.” That’s not exactly the most convincing statement for Wolverines fans.

With Michigan’s program under investigation for alleged recruiting violations, Harbaugh could bolt for the NFL instead of facing sanctions.

You can see the full top 25 here.

ESPN - No. 3

2022 record: 13-1, 9-0 Big Ten

Expected returning starters: 6 offense, 8 defense, 0 special teams

Expected key losses: C Olusegun Oluwatimi, DT Mazi Smith, WR Ronnie Bell, OT Ryan Hayes, TE Luke Schoonmaker, CB DJ Turner, DE Mike Moris, K Jake Moody

Expected key additions: LB Ernest Hausmann, OL LaDarius Henderson, DE Josaiah Stewart, OL Myles Hinton, C Drake Nugent, WR Karmello English, RB Cole Cabana

Outlook: The Wolverines face a lot of uncertainty, as coach Jim Harbaugh has been connected to NFL openings in Denver and Indianapolis. For what it’s worth, Harbaugh released a statement last week in which he said he intends to coach the Wolverines in 2023. If Harbaugh leaves, Michigan will probably fall out of the top four. It finally seemed to turn the corner under Harbaugh, defeating rival Ohio State and reaching the CFP in each of the past two seasons. Depending on how many underclassmen return in 2023, Michigan could again be the team to beat in the Big Ten. Quarterback J.J. McCarthy is coming back, and star RB Blake Corum announced Monday he would return after injuring his left knee 11 games into the season. Turner and Big Ten defensive lineman of the year Morris have entered the draft, while linebacker Michael Barrett might as well. Regardless, Harbaugh has built a solid culture and foundation. A handful of additions from the transfer portal might provide some immediate help. Henderson, Hinton and Nugent were multiyear starters in the Pac-12, and Stewart had 12 ½ sacks at Coastal Carolina in 2021.

You can see the full top 25 here.

The Athletic - No. 2

It’s not certain Jim Harbaugh will still be their head coach, but QB J.J. McCarthy and standout RBs Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards will all be back. Three Pac-12 starting offensive linemen have transferred in, as has Indiana TE AJ Barner. Linebacker Junior Colson, CB Will Johnson and S Mike Sainristil return. Coastal Carolina edge Josaiah Stewart was a big pickup, as was Nebraska LB Ernest Hausmann, a freshman starter.

You can see the full top 25 here.

USATODAY Sports - No. 2

Will Jim Harbaugh be around? He’s received NFL interest and could opt to leave his alma mater after back-to-back Big Ten titles and College Football Playoff berths. If he does return, Michigan could be highly motivated by a Fiesta Bowl loss to TCU and again roll through Big Ten play with a physical running game and suffocating defense. The Wolverines have quarterback J.J. McCarthy and running backs Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards, and will rebuild on the offensive line with multiple transfers. The floor for this team is probably 10 wins due to an easy nonconference schedule and only a trip to Penn State and home game against Ohio State that seem dangerous.

You can see the full top 25 here.

Sports Illustrated - No. 2

This is subject to radical revision if Jim Harbaugh bolts to the NFL. But until Big Ten East rivals Ohio State and Penn State prove they can even come close to beating the Wolverines, they deserve to be the highest-rated team from that conference. Quarterback J.J. McCarthy and running backs Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards return to keep the offense humming, with Colston Loveland looking like the next dynamic Michigan tight end. Replacements are needed at wide receiver and on the offensive line. An outstanding defense will also takes some hits, but that was the case last year as well, and the unit maintained a high level of performance. Cornerback Will Johnson is a rising star. The nonconference schedule is once again soft.

You can see the full top 25 here.

Story originally appeared on Wolverines Wire