Spartans, Buckeyes rise in early Top 25
February, 10, 2014
By Brian Bennett | ESPN.com
Colleague Mark Schlabach has come out with a new edition of his Way-Too-Early Top 25 for 2014, taking into account what happened on signing day. And some Big Ten teams are on the rise.
Defending champ Florida State is No. 1, followed by Alabama and Oregon. And then, leading the way for the Big Ten, is Michigan State at No. 4. The Spartans checked in at No. 5 in Schlabach's previous Top 25, which he issued last month.
"MSU coach Mark Dantonio continued to build his team through the trenches by also signing juco offensive tackle David Hedelin, No. 4 center Brian Allen and No. 32 defensive tackle Enoch Smith Jr. No. 30 athlete Montae Nicholson and No. 1 fullback Gerald Owens were the top skill players who signed with the Spartans. MSU ranked well behind Big Ten rival Ohio State in recruiting, but Dantonio was able to compile a 42-12 record the previous four seasons with recruiting classes that weren't as highly regarded as this one."
Ohio State climbed six spots from Schlabach's previous ranking and now rank at No. 7 after landing the Big Ten's most lauded class.
"Urban Meyer wanted to transform Ohio State's football team with SEC-like speed, and he dipped into Florida, Georgia and Texas in his most recent recruiting class to try to do it. Meyer concentrated on improving OSU's defense and building depth on its offensive line while landing another top-10 recruiting class."
Wisconsin holds steady at No. 14, while Iowa moves up two spots to No. 19. Michigan is now No. 21, up three spots from last month's ranking.
My two cents: Michigan State and Ohio State are both deserving of top-10 rankings. I'm not as high on Wisconsin as Schlabach, simply because the Badgers have to replace so many valuable seniors from last season's team and have some major questions in their passing game. It's nice to see Iowa get some recognition after a strong 2013, and like Wisconsin, the Hawkeyes should benefit from the schedule in the first year of the East-West alignment.
I don't quite agree with the enthusiasm for Michigan, which in my mind does not deserve a Top 25 ranking after the way it played in 2013. The potential is certainly there for the Wolverines, but I think that program has a lot to prove first. I would rank Nebraska in the Top 25, given the returning talent on defense and at the skill positions on offense.
But there's still a long, long way to go before August. What do you think of this latest Top 25?
Michigan Outlook: 2014
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