that was before the Gaffney announcement, which I assume was intentionally made *after* National Signing Day.
Tyler Gaffney, who was Stephan Taylor's backup two seasons ago, is returning to play football. He left after his junior year when he was drafted by the Pitssburgh Pirates. He reportedly missed his time at Stanford and playing football, so he decided to give up baseball for now.
They lose a ton of production on offense between the loss of two WRs, two TEs, and their RB Taylor. Not sure about the OL but they signed a very very good OL class last year so they should be fine there. Hogan at QB is an upgrade but he's no Andrew Luck. Plenty of FR sensations fail to carryover the spark into their SO years and to boot he has new offensive coordinator.
Their schedule is a tale of two halves. First half they face some ok teams but nobody who should be able to beat them straight up (yes I know Washington beat them last year). Second half is a tough stretch with UCLA, @ Ore St, Bye, Oregon, at USC, Cal, and Notre Dame. If they make it to 11-0 prior to playing us, they are the #1/#2 team.
I personally don't think they will go 11-0 but I sure hope they do. Both of our defenses should be comparable and I'll give our offense the edge as of now on paper. Plus I think ND drops a game to OU so losing that game and winning the rest (including a #1/#2 Stanford) gives us a shot to get back into the title game - where coincidentally ND has never lost in the Rose Bowl.
Stanford also loses NT Stephens and CB Brown. They return 8 true starters and lose a DL, a DB, and their best defensive player who happens to be a LB. Sounds like another team I know.
Stanford at 2 is a major stretch, but at least the Cardinal will be a good team next year. I think Michigan is going to be no better than decent next year.
For 3 years, Michigan has scared teams for one reason -- Denard Robinson. With him gone, who on that roster scares you? Where are the difference makers? Green may eventually be a great back, but he'll be a frosh next year (and one in his second game when we see him). No other backs are difference makers. The receivers are decidedly mediocre. Lewan is tough, but the entire interior of their line is being rebuilt.
On D, they have ... uh ... well ... a bunch of OK guys. The kid from Ignatius is tough, but everone else is just a decent guy filling a position. They lose Demens, Kovacs, Roh, and Campbell -- arguably 4 of their top 5 guys on D.
I think this all boils down to Gardner. I guess some people think he showed great promise at the end of last year. I think he showed that he'll be an above average guy, but not the danger that Robinson was. Now that everyone has film on Gardner, and now that Robinson is no longer looming as a threat in the backfield beside him, I'm not worried about him. And since they have no depth, the Skunks can't afford to run him much, eliminating that threat.
Michigan has beat us 3 of the last 4, argubably when we were the better team each year. They can certainly beat us again next year. But it won't be because they match up with us athletically, because they don't. Hoke and Mattison are great recruiters, and they'll have the talent in another year or so, but they won't be our problem anymore at that point.
That's one incentive for ESPN to goose Michigan's rating.
They discuss both (SU, Michigan) recruiting classes as if that's going to make a huge difference this year. They ranked Stanford 2nd but mention their #40 class and how they only took 12. Then, they talk about Hoke signing 2 good classes in a row the last 2 years.
Using the just-signed classes as any kind of indicator of being/not being a top 10 team is laughable. This is complete garbage.
I'll sum it up like this: "Stanford has been better than expected in each of the last three years and while their recruiting class was not very good this year and they lose a boat-load of offensive talent and production, we're sick of consistently under-ranking them so we are going to put them at #2."