Asmussen knows he's in the minority, but is standing behind the pick. Why? "First of all, Brady Hoke has done a great job," Asmussen said of the second-year Michigan coach.
"I think when he came in there, it could have been a disaster. And instead, he managed that season last year. So, I'm impressed with the way he's turned that thing. I think they have extreme momentum going into the year, coming off the bowl and they played well down the stretch last year. I like that, and I think that's important to this team because, they obviously lost their way under (Rich Rodriguez). I like what he does, I like the staff he has there. So start with the coaching. I think it's fantastic, and everywhere (Hoke's) gone, he's done this. He's been good, and now he actually has the bodies to help him win a national championship."
USC is the AP's preseason No. 1, garnering 25 first-place votes. Alabama, LSU and Oklahoma also earned first-place votes to round out the top four teams. Michigan somehow earned a first-place vote as well, becoming the only team outside the top four and only Big Ten team to do so.
The Spartans are hoping to make their way to the Rose Bowl this season after falling a game short last year. An experienced defense returns but the offense must rebuild after losing quarterback Kirk Cousins, running back Edwin Baker, and wide receivers B.J. Cunningham and Keshawn Martin to the NFL.