Wolverines crash Top 10

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan has returned -- halfway -- to the top 10 for the first time since 2007.

After the Wolverines beat Northwestern 42-24 on Saturday night in Evanston, Ill., they moved up to No. 11 in the Associated Press Top 25 media poll and to No. 10 in the USA Today coaches poll.

It is the first time Michigan has reached the top 10 since the preseason poll of 2007, when the Wolverines were ranked No. 5 with two first-place votes. The next week, they lost to Appalachian State.

It is also the first time Michigan has been ranked in the top 10 this late in the season since 2006, when the Wolverines were also ranked fifth and were 6-0. Michigan went 11-0 that season before losing to then-No. 1 Ohio State in the regular-season finale, and then to USC in the Rose Bowl.

Michigan was also at No. 10 in the first Harris poll of the year, released Sunday night. The Harris poll is one of three metrics used to determine the BCS standings. The first BCS standings will be released next week.

The Wolverines have spent the past month echoing the mantra of their first-year head coach, Brady Hoke, who has said rankings don't mean anything.

"In the past, we've had success, seen our ranking and then lost it," senior center David Molk said last week. "So we don't believe it anymore."

Michigan had been ranked after undefeated Septembers in both 2009 and 2010, only to see those seasons fall apart once the Big Ten schedule started. So what is different?

"Guys would get caught up," Molk said of the rankings. "But not anymore."

This year's Michigan team is also 6-0, and next faces Michigan State at noon ET Saturday.

Michigan is one of six Big Ten teams ranked in the coaches poll, joining No. 4 Wisconsin, No. 14 Nebraska, No. 15 Illinois, No. 19 Michigan State and No. 25 Penn State.

Four other Big Ten teams are in the AP poll: No. 4 Wisconsin, No. 14 Nebraska, No. 16 Illinois and No. 23 Michigan State.

Michael Rothstein covers University of Michigan sports for WolverineNation. He can be reached at michaelrothsteinespn@gmail.com or on Twitter @mikerothstein.