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The University of Michigan needs no deep explanation with its national championship history, Ohio State rivalry, Heisman trophies. The Wolverines were arguably the second best team in the country this year.
Michigan State also has a deep history, and some of the fiercest fans in the country reside in and around East Lansing (at least when UM comes to town). The team may not always be up to snuff, but the fan base is impenetrable. And I would put MSU up against any team that hails from Louisiana -- other than LSU.
As for the mid-majors? Central Michigan has won a Division II national championship, is moving coaches up to BCS conferences, and is currently the cream of the crop of the MAC. Sure, the MAC is having a down year, but the conference still has four bowl representatives, and the top five teams are no pushover.
Western Michigan has also been a tough team, especially of late. Former Broncos wide receiver Gregg Jennings was the Packers' second-leading receiver this season as a rookie.
The CMU-WMU contest is probably the most intense mid-major rivalry in the country. Neither team has won more than three straight since a period of Central dominance from 1977-1987.
Toss in Eastern Michigan for good measure, because, hey, they still ... kinda play football (they're a little too close to Detroit, and that "play for the draft pick" mentality is starting to rub off).
I should also mention Division II. Grand Valley State has won four of the last five national championships, despite coaching changes.
With all this rich history, how could Michigan not be ranked higher in college football? A conference champion, a national champion, and a near-national championship game contender? Please. Don't tell me Louisiana can match these credentials.