Data Says Wolverines Fall Just Short of Most Popular CFB Team
The Michigan Wolverines can boast about a great deal when it comes to its legacy. Being the program with the most wins in college football history is chief among them.
But, as many Big Blue fans have felt for far too long, some accolades appear just out of reach, and a certain team to the south seems to catch all of the breaks that pass Michigan by.
247Sports shared a ranking of college football's 10 most popular programs in the nation Friday. The ranking was composited by polling data from marketing research by SBRNet. AL.com and Samford University in Alabama also played a part in the analysis of the data. Ironically, that didn't give the Alabama Crimson Tide a leg up on the competition. Alabama landed at the same number of national championships the program has won with Nick Saban: 6.
Some other surprises popped up in the rankings. The SEC may win more championships, but the Big 10 walked away with more teams in this top 10. Wisconsin began the list at No. 10 while Penn State came in at No. 3. If you want to go ahead and count UCLA in the Big 10, the Bruins came in at No. 8. The SEC, on the other hand, only had one other school: the reigning CFP National Champions, the Georgia Bulldogs which ranked No. 7.
The most surprising mention among these top 10? Duke. Yeah, the basketball school was the highest-rated non-Big 10 team, the Blue Devils came in at No. 4. The other ACC school to make the list? The Florida State Seminoles at 5.
Before we get to the Wolverines ranking, one other Big Blue rival is included on the list. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish were ranked at a surprising No. 9 on this list.
That leaves space to point out some notable snubs. USC is the first to come to mind, especially with the reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams returning for one final season. The Clemson Tigers haven't seen quite as much success in recent years, but the program has built a respectable fanbase during its national spotlight run. Then there's Texas. Sure, the Longhorns may never actually be back, but the program has two quarterbacks on its roster that have lofty expectations to bring relevancy back to Austin: Quinn Ewers and Arch Manning.
Of course, that leaves just one major rival for the Wolverines that has a chance to be on the list based on the criteria I've outlined. That's right, the Ohio State Buckeyes were ranked as the No. 1 most popular college football program in the country. The Wolverines had to settle for second place behind their most hated rivals.
If the Wolverines needed a little offseason fuel to make sure they beat Ohio State for a third straight season in 2023, here it is.