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A Roundup Of Where The Biggest Publications Rank Michigan Football In 2018

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Michigan opens its 2018 season Sept. 1 at Notre Dame. (AP Images)

Even though we're only in late February, most of the country's biggest sporting publications have already released way-too-early top 25s for the 2018 college football season.

To no one's surprise, the outlets are torn on where to rank Michigan.

Athlon, for example, has the Wolverines as a top 10 team heading into next year, while Sports Illustrated barely has them in the top 25.

Here's a look at where some of the country's biggest publications have tabbed them, ranked from highest to lowest.

Athlon — No. 7

Their Take: Reason for Optimism: If eligible, Ole Miss transfer [junior] Shea Patterson will be a difference-maker at quarterback. Receivers Donovan Peoples-Jones and Tarik Black should be more involved as sophomores, and the backfield is stable with the return of [senior] Karan Higdon and [junior] Chris Evans. The defense will be among the nation’s best once again. Reason for Concern: If Patterson isn’t awarded immediate eligibility, will [redshirt sophomore] Brandon Peters or [redshirt freshman] Dylan McCaffrey step up at quarterback? The offensive line loses tackles Mason Cole and center Patrick Kugler. This unit needs to step up if Michigan wants to contend for the Big Ten title.”

Opponents: Ohio State (No. 3), Wisconsin (No. 8), Michigan State (No. 10), Penn State (No. 11) and Notre Dame (No. 14).

The Athletic — No. 11

Their Take: “Jim Harbaugh’s team underwhelmed in 2017 but is fairly stocked for next season. Nine starters from a national top-five defense return, including All-Big Ten linemen [junior] Rashan Gary and [fifth-year senior] Chase Winovich and star LB [junior] Devin Bush. The Wolverines will get a huge boost if Ole Miss transfer QB Shea Patterson is granted an NCAA waiver. If not, Brandon Peters got experience as a redshirt freshman. The O-line remains a concern.”

Opponents: Ohio State (No. 2), Wisconsin (No. 4), Michigan State (No. 7), Penn State (No. 14), Northwestern (No. 20) and Notre Dame (No. 23).

ESPN — No. 11

Their Take: “National signing day came and went without the Wolverines making a big splash, as Jim Harbaugh tries to get his program headed back in the right direction. After signing top-10 classes the previous two cycles, Michigan's class was ranked No. 20 this year. But Michigan's move is based on the possibility that Ole Miss QB transfer Shea Patterson will be eligible to play this coming season. U-M officials are expected to file an appeal to the NCAA for relief. If Patterson starts at quarterback this coming season, the Wolverines might be poised for a big turnaround from last season's five-loss letdown. Even if it's Brandon Peters or Dylan McCaffrey and not Patterson, Michigan is bringing back enough talent to be a factor in the Big Ten race. The Wolverines are expected to bring back nine of 11 starters on defense, and Chase Winovich, Devin Bush and Rashan Gary were the key parts of a top-five unit in 2017. The Wolverines will play road games at Notre Dame, Northwestern, Michigan State and Ohio State in 2018.”

Opponents: Ohio State (No. 4), Wisconsin (No. 7), Michigan State (No. 9), Penn State (No. 10) and Notre Dame (No. 21).

SEC Country — No. 11

Their Take: “Jim Harbaugh, fair or not, has gotten all sorts of backlash after failing to deliver on sky-high expectations in Ann Arbor. But 2017 always was going to be a rebuilding year. Ole Miss transfer QB Shea Patterson could play as soon as 2018. And that could help Harbaugh avoid the Les Miles path on offense (too old-school and conservative). The offensive line also is a top concern, though whomever starts at QB should have an adequate backfield and receiving corps. Don Brown’s defense has a chance to be the best in the Big Ten based on returning personnel. Can Harbaugh shake off the boobirds just as people lose faith in his potential to win titles?”

Opponents: Ohio State (No. 2), Wisconsin (No. 6), Michigan State (No. 7), Penn State (No. 12) and Notre Dame (No. 14).

CBS Sports — No. 14

Their Take: “This ranking is based on Shea Patterson's availability. If -- as expected -- Patterson gets a transfer waiver, Jim Harbaugh will have the best quarterback of his Michigan reign. If not, another eight-win season looms.”

Opponents: Ohio State (No. 4), Michigan State (No. 5), Penn State (No. 6), Wisconsin (No. 7) and Notre Dame (No. 10).

USA Today — No. 16

Their Take: “These are strange times for Michigan, which had enormous hopes upon Jim Harbaugh’s arrival but has yet to crack the upper echelon of the FBS. That may happen in 2018, especially given the Wolverines’ defense, but that’s only half the battle. Can Harbaugh find a quarterback?”

Opponents: Ohio State (No. 3), Wisconsin (No. 5), Penn State (No. 6), Michigan State (No. 10) and Notre Dame (No. 15).

Sporting News — No. 17

Their Take: “Too high? The arrival of Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson could be the missing piece that allows Jim Harbaugh to silence the critics after a disappointing five-loss season. To be honest, we wanted to go higher, but the Wolverines' schedule — which features road games at Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State — leaves them with a lot to prove.”

Opponents: Ohio State (No. 4), Wisconsin (No. 6), Notre Dame (No. 9), Penn State (No. 10) and Michigan State (No. 16).

Yahoo Sports — No. 17

Their Take: “The 2017 season was an expected rebuilding year for the Wolverines, but the heat has been turned up for Jim Harbaugh after the Wolverines ended the season with three straight losses. Those late-season lumps could translate into some wins for a more-experienced group in 2018, especially if quarterback Shea Patterson, a five-star transfer from Ole Miss, is granted eligibility by the NCAA. Patterson could be the stud quarterback Harbaugh has lacked throughout his return to Ann Arbor, but it won’t be easy to leapfrog Ohio State and Penn State in the Big Ten East.”

Opponents: Ohio State (No. 4), Wisconsin (No. 5), Penn State (No. 7), Michigan State (No. 12) and Notre Dame (No. 22).

Sports Illustrated — No. 23

Their Take: “This was one of the tougher rankings to assign, and it depends a lot on the eligibility of Shea Patterson. Should the Ole Miss transfer play in 2018, Michigan might be a top-15 team, but that’s still uncertain.”

Opponents: Ohio State (No. 4), Wisconsin (No. 6), Penn State (No. 7), Michigan State (No. 12) and Notre Dame (No. 13).

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