Clemson is off to a 5-0 start with wins against Florida State and Virginia Tech, each ACC favorites at the start of the year. Michigan looks to be playing a much-improved defensive game this season and they are also 5-0. Which of these teams ends the year with a better record, and are they legitimate contenders in their conference?
Kevin, National College Football Examiner: I think Clemson has the better chance of ending the season with a better record, but if they met head to head I might be inclined to go with the Wolverines. Look at the schedules that remain for each. Clemson has already played what should be their toughest games, against Florida State, Virginia Tech and Auburn. The Georgia Tech and South Carolina games will certainly be tough but Michigan has to play Michigan State, Iowa, Illinois, and Nebraska, with three of those games on the road. They get Ohio State at home and the Buckeyes are struggling, so this may be the year Michigan picks up a win against their rivals.
Right now, there is no doubt that Clemson is a legitimate ACC contender. They have already defeated the top two teams in the conference heading in to the season, and if they can edge Georgia Tech later in the season then there is nothing stopping in their way, except for them.
Michigan has a real shot at a Legends Division championship but nobody right now looks like they will be able to keep up with Wisconsin in the Big Ten. Denard Robinson and an improved defense though would likely have a shot at the upset, but the Wolverines still have things to prove on the field in the regular season.
Max Price, Oregon Ducks Examiner: Clemson is playing so well right now, and they already have wins over the top 2 teams in the conference, plus a win against an Auburn team that may or not be a good squad. Michigan, meanwhile, has quite a tougher schedule to finish out the year. Both teams should finish in the top 15, though, and I expect Clemson to win the ACC. The Big 10, however, is going to be a bit more difficult for Michigan to conquer, but they are legitimate contenders to win it. I predict Clemson to finish 10-2 and win the conference, and Michigan to finish 9-3 and narrowly miss a conference title.
Rich Kurtzman, Colorado State Rams Examiner: Make no doubt about it, Michigan is the real deal. The Wolverines are dynamic because of Denard Robinson’s amazing athletic abilities. Robinson leads the team in passing (793 yards, 8 TD) and rushing (603 yards, 6 TD) and he’s an absolute beast on the football field. He’s fast, quick, elusive and extraordinary in so many ways. He makes the Michigan offense go, and no team has found a way to stop him. But don’t be fooled, this team is an all-around great squad. Michigan has only allowed 10 points over the last three games, including blanking Minnesota 58-0 last week. Their 10.2 points allowed per game makes them the second best defense in the nation and the Wolverines have a chance to not only win their conference but compete for a BCS Championship as well.
Jordan Caldwell, Utah Utes Examiner: Not to take anything away from Michigan, but that have not gotten to the meat of their schedule. They have upcoming back-to-back games at Northwestern and at Michigan State where they haven’t won since 2007. Not to mention the four game stretch to end the season against Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and Ohio State. We have seen the story from Michigan the last few years; lets see what they can do in conference play.
As far as Clemson goes, they have already won against the conferences top two teams, as well as the defending national champion. Looking at their schedule, they will have tough games at Georgia Tech and at South Carolina, but they are well on their way to a double digit win season and representing the Atlantic Division in the ACC title game.
Schimri Yoyo, Big East Examiner: I think Clemson is more legitimate and also ends the year with a better record. Michigan has looked good but has played a very weak schedule thus far. The only game against a mid-to-top tier program was against Notre Dame in Week 2, and it took a monumental mental collapse by the Fighting Irish for the Wolverines to emerge victorious. So, I’m not quite sold on them yet. They still have tough games at Michigan State, at Iowa, versus Nebraska, and versus Ohio State—all of them very losable games for the Maize and Blue.
Clemson, on the other hand, has already defeated three ranked opponents, three weeks in a row, including last week’s rout of Virginia Tech in Hokie Land. Impressive.
Troy Hyde, Iowa Hawkeyes Examiner: Clemson to me is the more impressive team and will end up with the better record. They are talented on both sides of the ball and have much more depth on offense than the Wolverines. Michigan’s season hinges on the health of Denard Robinson. And I believe he will not make it through the season. We have seen this dance with the Wolverines before. A good start is only as good as the finish and finishing has been their problem in recent years. Clemson is certainly the favorite to win the ACC now, and Michigan can win the Legends Division but right now the Legends Division is anyone’s guess and very wide open.
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