Sports Outside the Beltway

Michigan Falls from Top 25 – Biggest Drop Ever

The Michigan Wolverines set a record Saturday, becoming the first ranked Division I-A team to lose to a Division I-AA team. Now, they’ve set another one: The biggest drop ever in the AP poll.

Thud! The final fallout from a disastrous opening weekend for Michigan came Tuesday, when the Wolverines dropped all the way out of The Associated Press Top 25, an unprecedented fall from No. 5 to unranked. Since the AP poll expanded to 25 teams in 1989, no team has taken a bigger tumble in one week.


As for Michigan, the Wolverines became the first ranked team from Division I-A, now known as the Bowl Subdivision, to lose to a team from I-AA, now known as the Championship Subdivision.


Michigan received 39 points from the media voters in the Top 25, including a 16th place vote by Wayne Phillips from The Greenville (Tenn.) Sun. “I still think Michigan has a good football team,” he said. “I think they’re worthy of being ranked. They may prove me wrong.” Phillips said he gave Michigan some leeway because he’s very familiar with Appalachian State, the two-time defending I-AA champions. “They’re a pretty darn good football team,” he said. “If Michigan had lost to some of the other patsies some of the big teams played I could see dropping them out.”

Appalachian State is not eligible for the AP Top 25, which only ranks Bowl Subdivision teams. The Wolverines host Oregon on Saturday.

Before Michigan’s fall, Notre Dame held the ignominious record for largest drop in the rankings in the Top 25-era. The Fighting Irish dropped 16 spots — from No. 9 to No. 25 — after losing to Northwestern 17-15 on Sept. 3, 1995. Texas dropped 15 spots in 1997, going from ninth to 24th after a 66-3 loss to UCLA in September 1997. Louisville also fell 15 spots — 11th to unranked — in September 2005 after losing to South Florida.

The highest ranked team to fall from the poll after one loss was No. 2 Oklahoma in 1959, when the AP was ranking the top 20 teams. Later that season Army went from No. 4 to unranked. In 1950, Tennessee went from No. 4 to unranked in October and in 1960 Illinois fall out of the ranking from No. 4.

I don’t see how they could have been ranked after this, frankly. But it just goes to show the silliness of having teams ranked by the media before the first games are played and then have everyone jockeying from those spots. Most teams have no chance at a (mythical) national championship because even going 12-0 would not put them into the top two if they start the season unranked.

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