Synopsis: After 5 games, Michigan is currently ranked #9 in scoring offense and #73 in scoring defense. Based on these rankings, M has a 43% chance for a +5 WLM (9-4 or better) season and an 83% chance for a winning season. Offense continues to trend better each week. Defense, uh, not so much. The defense is definitely a significant concern. Only 8 teams in the last 5 years have had +5 WLM with a defense rated worse than #60. The most recent were in 2008 (Texas Tech O#13/D#74 +9 WLM, Oregon O#15/D#78 +7 WLM, Missouri O#6/D#69 +6 WLM, Nebraska O#25/D#80 +5 WLM, Oklahoma State O#17/D#76 +5 WLM). Michigan's current PPG is 25.4 so the defense must hold teams below this number to improve their performance.
I always use scoring stats because yardage stats are inherently flawed. Poor teams will give up fewer passing yards and more rushing yards because opponents will stop passing once they have a late-game lead and will run out the clock instead. For winning teams, the opposite is true. Yardage per game does not take into account the pace of the game and it is obvious M plays at a faster pace than most teams (M is ranked #82 based on yards per play). Being #73 in scoring defense is not good but Ms defense is not as bad as the #102 in total defense indicates. According to the S&P+ rankings at Football Outsiders, Michigan is ranked #62 in total defense.
Based on the FEI (Fremeau Efficiency Index), Michigan is predicted to win between 8.6 and 9.4 games (excluding bowl game but adjusted with +1 for M's one FCS opponent).
Based on the FEI, M is favored by 8 points over MSU! Using the Sagarin Predictor, M is favored by 5.6 points (Vegas Odds Opened at 5.0). This is a classic "pick-em" game with the advantage going to U/M based on home field advantage and a slightly more difficult schedule to date. Michigan needs to play well but does not need that "perfect game" to beat Sparty.
Overall this year, M is averaging 3.6 points per possession (PPP) and 49 YPP. The defense is giving up 2.1 PPP and 36 YPP. With an average of 12 possessions per game for each team, this translates into an 18 point advantage for Michigan.
DETAILS: Here are the FEI numbers ( FEI Forecasts and Football Outsiders FEI ). FEI is a weighted and opponent adjusted season efficiency and is expressed as a percentage as compared with an average FBS team.
Note that FEI completely excludes all non-FBS data (the W-L record is only for FBS games, etc.). Therefore, you need to add 1 to the projected numbers for MW and RMW to get the final predicted wins for M this year.
The FEI is a drive based analysis considering each of the nearly 20,000 drives each year in college football. The data is filtered to eliminate garbage time (at the half or end of game) and is adjusted for opponent. A team is rewarded for playing well against good teams (win or lose) and is punished more severely for playing poorly against bad teams than it is rewarded for playing well against bad teams. I've included the GE basic data so you can see the impact of adjusting for opponent. (See: Football Outsiders Our Basic College Stats )
Here are the Sagarin Ratings.
Sagarin uses two basic ratings: PREDICTOR (in which the score MARGIN is the only thing that matters) and ELO-CHESS (in which winning and losing only matters, the score margin is of no consequence). The overall rating is a synthesis of the two diametrical opposites, ELO-CHESS and PREDICTOR.
Per Sagarin: ELO-CHESS is “very politically correct. However, it is less accurate in its predictions for upcoming games than is PREDICTOR”.
Here is the U/M vs. MSU National Statistical Rankings with the advantage for each category indicated (all categories within 10% are considered a "push").
Here are the week by week National Statistical Rankings for Michigan (cumulative thru the week indicated):
I have included the major rankings for offense and defense but scoring rankings show the best correlation to winning and losing. Scoring rankings are based on PPG. Rushing, Passing, and Total rankings are based on YPG.
Here is the basic data for Michigan (each individual week followed by totals and then average per game). I've included Total Possessions for Offense & Defense along with the calculated data per possession. Number of possessions do not include running out the clock at the half or end of game. Offense Plays and Defense Plays are better indicators than Time of Possession.
Using Scoring Offense and Scoring Defense National Rankings for the past 5 years (FBS AQ teams only), this table shows the percentage of teams that finish the season with a +WLM and a +5 WLM. For example, teams that finished in the Top 40 in both offense and defense had a 100% chance to be +WLM and an 82% chance to be +5 WLM (9-4 or better).
Each year, of the 66 FBS AQ teams, 65% (43 teams) end up with a + WLM and 36% (24 teams) end up with a +5 WLM.