ANN ARBOR, Mich. – It's been more than five weeks since Michigan kicked up against a team with a similar level of talent, but that series will end this weekend when Wisconsin arrives in town.
No. 15 Michigan lost his only game against a good team in the first half of the season, falling to Notre Dame in South Bend. Since then, the Wolverines have eliminated five teams with a combined record of 11-16.
Despite the level of competition, Michigan climbed to No. 1
Here's a look at how high Michigan could rise in the standings this weekend with a victory over Wisconsin.
Even with a win, there are five teams that Michigan will not be able to jump into the league this season.
Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Clemson and Notre Dame are the top five teams in the nation, and there is a wide gap between them and the rest of the top 25.
Since Michigan already has a loss, and these teams have a comfortable lead in terms of AP Survey points, they will stay ahead of Wolverine after week 7.
This means that the highest Michigan could scale this week would be at n. 6, but this would require absolute chaos across the country.
Since the first five are untouchable and Michigan is currently at number 12, we will focus on the six teams ranked among n. 6 and the n. 11.
No. 6 West Virginia
West Virginia is on an island in the ranking. The climbers are also unbeaten, but they are considered a step below the top five teams due to a weaker first-half program.
Quarterback Will Grier is a legitimate candidate for the Heisman trophy, which helps West Virginia in terms of credibility with voters. But a loss this weekend to the state of Iowa could drop the Mountaineers in the top 10.
This is a lengthy field because the State of Iowa has already left the games in Iowa and TCU: two unclassified teams. But the cyclones have a history of pestering teams ranked at home, as when they eliminated Oklahoma No. 3 in a shock last season.
No. 8 Penn State
If this game were on the way, Penn State would be in alarm. But as it is, the Nittany Lions seem to have everything in their favor in a match up with Michigan State.
The Spartans are dealing with injury and uncertainty issues after a third consecutive loss at Northwestern. James Franklin also took revenge on his mind after MSU shocked Penn State last season.
All signs indicate a Penn State victory, but in the mandate of Mark Dantonio, it was then that Michigan State played his best football.
No. 9 Texas
Despite a defeat in Maryland at the opening, Texas entered the top 10 last weekend with three solid wins and a five-game winning streak.
The kicker for Texas was a 48-45 victory over Oklahoma – the third victory for the Longhorns already on the classified teams. Southern Cal and TCU have been abandoned by the rankings, but the victory over the Sooners is one of the best in the country.
Texas hosts Baylor this weekend, and the only hope for Michigan to blow the Longhorns is a huge game of disappointment. Baylor is a mid-level Big 12 team, but there is a wide gap between the Bears and the top of the conference.
Unless there's a hangover from last week's rival, Texas should have no problems at home against Baylor.
No. 7 Washington
If Washington deserves its ranking position n. 7 is under discussion, but this week will be an important test.
After gaining three positions in the standings despite a seven-point win of 0-5 at UCLA, Washington heads for Eugene for a battle with 17 Oregon. The ducks were only three weeks away from a harrowing loss at Stanford, and they are hungry for a second chance to eliminate one of the best Pac-12s.
This is Oregon's last chance to collect a big win in the regular season, and Washington has had a shaky appearance sometimes during the Pac-12 game. The loser will be eliminated from the Football Football Playoff dispute, so Eugene's atmosphere should be electric.
No. 10 Central Florida
UCF is doing well without Scott Frost so far, winning his first five games to extend the winning streak to 18.
The Knights have not yet had a close game, but a road trip to Memphis could be their hardest test. UCF is the best team, but Memphis turned this game on the calendar, and it could be the only chance that UCF would lose before mid-November.
If Michigan continues to win, the Knights will eventually pass. Is this the week? UCF is 42 points higher than Michigan in the AP poll, but a victory over Wisconsin in prime time television might be enough for some voters to change their minds.
No. 11 Oklahoma
It's a tough time for a week in Norman, as the Sooners have one more week to think about their loss in Texas.
According to the rankings, Oklahoma is only four points from Michigan for the number 11 spot, so there's a good chance the Wolverines will recover that deficit with a victory over Wisconsin.
No. 13 LSU
Normally teams that play ranked games do not have to worry about being passed from behind in the poll, but this week is an 'exception'.
Michigan is a point ahead of the LSU after the Tigers have lost a difficult game now – No. 14 Florida. LSU has already conquered the number 16 of Miami and the number 21 of Auburn, so if it adds a negative result to the number 2 of Georgia in that list, it deserves to rise to the stars once again.
No. 17 Oregon
It is extremely unlikely that Michigan will fall victim to Oregon if both teams win, but strange things can happen in the rankings.
The loss of Michigan at n. 5 of Notre Dame is more defensible than the loss of Oregon home to Stanford, now unclassified, and a victory over Wisconsin would be just as impressive as a victory over Washington.
Michigan should not worry about ducks in this scenario.
It would take an absolute chaos, but the highest Michigan could climb this week is n. 6. In the worst case, the Wolverines would probably be the number 11 if they beat Wisconsin.
A loss in Wisconsin would make the rankings irrelevant, since Michigan would have been eliminated from the College Football Playoff dispute.
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