Over at Eleven Warriors, Phil Steele gives a long interview on his process of ranking teams, along with his take on Ohio, Michigan, and the rest of the Big 10. It is a fascinating read, and gives a sense of why Steele does such a good job of predicting. (LINK: http://www.elevenwarriors.com/2012/07/12344/12-0-is-a-possibility-chatting-with-phil-steele#more)
Of greatest interest here are his comments on Michigan. Here are a few quotes:
Last season, Brady Hoke and the Wolverines were one of the bigger success stories in the country. Do you think that can be sustained?
Phil Steele: Last year, Michigan had the best case scenario. Going 11-2, that’s about as good as it can get. When you look at things a little bit closer, the bowl game (against Virginia Tech)for example, they got out first-downed 22-12, outgained 377-184, but at the end of the game, they ended up winning.
You look at the Notre Dame game, heading into the fourth quarter you’re thinking Notre Dame is going to win by 24 points. They completely dominated the game and then ended up coming up short when Denard Robinson had a touchdown pass in the final seconds.
This year the schedule gets a little bit tougher. I do think this season’s team is a little bit stronger if they can get the defensive line going.
I just don’t think they’ll overachieve like they did last year.
I have them as an underdog against Alabama, a slight underdog at Notre Dame, an underdog at Nebraska and an underdog at Ohio State. That doesn’t mean they’ll lose all of them, but I think their odds of getting 11 wins are a little more difficult.
There is more in the interview on Michigan, but you can only quote so much. The whole piece is very good. Interestingly, Eleven Warriors predicts that Michigan will beat Alabama (although, Steele begs to differ, and thinks it would be quite an upset.)