football Edit

By The Numbers: Where the Computers Rank Michigan Football, Week 9

Michigan football is fresh off its bye week, riding high on a seven-game unbeaten streak to begin the season.

Various rankings come out each week, including the AP & Coaches Polls.

In this weekly segment, we'll get away from human polls, go into the computers, and see what the various analytical-based rankings had to say about U-M each week.

Heading into the rivalry weekend with Michigan State on the agenda, where do the computers rank the Wolverines?


What is FPI?

ESPN's Football Power Index (FPI) is a predictive rating system designed to measure team strength and project performance going forward. The ultimate goal of FPI is not to rank teams 1 through 128; rather, it is to correctly predict games and season outcomes. If Vegas ever published the power rankings it uses to set its lines, they would likely look quite a lot like FPI.

Rank: 4th

Previously: 4th

Notable Rankings: Ohio State (1st), Texas (6th), Penn State (11th), Illinois (34th), Michigan State (42nd)

Michigan was unaffected by its bye in ESPN's power rankings. The Wolverines are still distanced from the top spot Buckeyes, who are 6.7 points better on a neutral field per the FPI. Penn State is close to the top 10, which should help U-M come playoff time if it needs some help getting in.


What is ESPN SP+?

In a single sentence, it's a tempo- and opponent-adjusted measure of college football efficiency. SP+ is intended to be predictive and forward-facing. That is important to remember. It is not a résumé ranking that gives credit for big wins or particularly brave scheduling — no good predictive system is. It is simply a measure of the most sustainable and predictable aspects of football. If you're lucky or unimpressive in a win, your rating will probably fall. If you're strong and unlucky in a loss, it will probably rise.

Rank: 4th

Previously: 4th

Notable rankings: Ohio State (1st), Alabama (2nd), Texas (6th), Clemson (9th), Penn State (14th), TCU (15th), Wisconsin (24th), Maryland (25th), Illinois (28th), Michigan State (52nd)

It's the same story for the Wolverines in SP+, who kept them in the fourth spot.

Alabama is ahead of Georgia. Texas is a common theme. Clemson is a fringe top1 0 team. Wisconsin? Maryland remains a good win/avoided trap for U-M. Illinois might be the second-toughest game on the schedule. And then there's Michigan State, who SP+ projects as a 19.9-point underdog on a neutral field against Michigan.


What (who) is Sagarin?

Jeff Sagarin made a rating and predictive system, then named it after, well, himself! It's an excellent way to look at ratings and determine scores in games by how closely or not close two teams rank. Sometimes, it can predict closer games in lopsided matchups or blowouts in closer games on paper.

Rank: 4th

Previously: 4th

Notable rankings: Ohio State (1st), Alabama (2nd), USC (6th), Oregon (7th), Clemson (10th), Texas (11th), Illinois (24th), Wisconsin (25th), Michigan State (48th)

Another computer aligns with the others regarding Michigan, the consensus fourth-best team in college football among humans & projections. Sagarin projects the Wolverines lower as 19-point home favorites against MSU.


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