Were NOT going 8-4. (Counter expectation thread)

Submitted by MichiganMan14 on July 6th, 2017 at 1:30 PM
I've seen a lot of 8-4 predictions and "we're too young" going on so I thought I'd chime in with a counter opinion. We play 8 teams that we are soundly and throughly better than as a football program. No excuse to lose ANY of them. We play 4 games that are "Tough" or "Toss-up". Florida in a neutral environment. Penn state and Whisky on the road and of course Ohio State at home. Michigan is a better football team than Florida and the Gators have a 1st year starting QB for their offense and lost a ton. We are deeper and more talented than both Penn state and Wisky. By the end of this year we we have no excuse not to beat Ohio as they have been gutted 2 years in a row by early entrees. Harbaugh was hired to win this game. He won't go 0-3. You don't win the national title with Seniors. You win it with BALLERS. We have BALLERS now. We will go 11-1 with a BS loss to Wisky which we avenge 2 weeks later and wind up a 3 seed in the CFP. Your heard it here first.


Mich OC

July 6th, 2017 at 5:00 PM ^

We are not at the point where we can reload like OSU, which is the reason for the lower expectations.  Our last two classes were elite, but the 2014 and 2015 classes were ranked 20th and 37th nationally.  The 2015 class is particularly tough, because the top player in the class is no longer with the program (Brian Cole), and the 4th best player is out for the year with injury (Newsome).

The Bama and OSU style reload comes from an elite class every single year, where you always have highly ranked talent entering their upperclassman years.  We're not quite there yet.  


July 6th, 2017 at 2:03 PM ^

Ballers, seniors, rabid Wolverines ... just give Harbaugh a roster of 22+ who want to hit someone, and I think they'll be fine.

It's football; they're kids. Anything from 15-0 to 6-6 can happen in my mind. Hopefully it's something toward the former as I'd like to celebrate more in A2 this year than Stadium Blvd. actually being a road one can drive on.


July 6th, 2017 at 2:15 PM ^

Predictions for the season are all over the map so far in mid-summer, and unlike the OP I haven't seen 8-4 predicted much at all. I have seen some people say that 8-4 is the "floor," but while I tend to lean 9-3 (with higher an option if the young talent comes together, but not a smart thing to predict) I think of floor as a worst-case scenario and I think 7-5 (OL isn't great, has an injury, pretty bad most of the year; receivers are ok but have reliability problems; Peters isn't ready to step up and Speight continues to be inconsistent; the ultra-young secondary gives up a lot of big plays; the team loses a fluke game to a lesser team due to turnovers/mistakes/bad luck) embodies the worst case options more accurately, losing all of the toss-up games plus a headscratcher.

Opinions that use the premise "EVERYONE seems to..." are usually working from a bad premise. Usually. 

I Like Burgers

July 6th, 2017 at 3:33 PM ^

Yeah, I'm with you.  I've just watched way too much CFB to know that shit happens you weren't expecting far too often during a season.  People get hurt, guys you thought were going to contribute don't, teams play different on the road...CFB is weird, man.

I mean hell, whose to say under Fleck that Minnesota game doesn't turn into a slug fest and Maryland gets their shit together by November and suddenly that road game at Maryland turns into a trap game because we're looking ahead to Wisconsin.

And before someone argues "BUT MARYLAND IS CRAP", remember on the road Michigan struggled to put away an awful MSU team and lost to Iowa.  Things happen.


July 6th, 2017 at 5:29 PM ^

Harbaugh would never allow that to happen.  We have one of the best game managers in the FBS, one of the best offensive playcalling systems, and THE best college D-coordinator in the country, bar none.  They may have to use a lot of gum and duct tape to pull out wins against inferior talent if the team doesn't gel on schedule, and they're not perfect (who is), but I've been overall very impressed with their bag of tricks.

Also keep in mind that Brown's defense is unique, which means much of the defense was starting over in '16.  We have less experience in terms of technique, but MORE experience in terms of familiarity with scheme.

Last season we lost one game due to injuries and bad guard play.  We lost one game due to crappy officiating.  And the team played one truly bad game where nothing went right and Iowa played out of their minds.  But the worst I've seen Harbaugh do is maybe gamble and lose, and in doing so not quite will the team to victory.  That's as bad as it gets.  We'll drop a couple, at least.  But we ain't gonna have a 27-for-27 or Gary Nova throwing 400 yards on us type situation this upcoming season.


July 6th, 2017 at 8:58 PM ^

but excuses/explanations for losses last season are just as much a threat this fall. Games will be poorly officiated, there will be injuries and games where nothing clicks. If a senior laden team couldn't play over those things I'm not at all certain this squad will.


July 7th, 2017 at 11:13 AM ^

Thing is. . . we lost those games last season.  So, because we lost so many upperclassmen, for the sake of argument, we go from losing bad-luck games to. . . losing bad-luck games.

How does this presumed lack of change take us down from 10-3 to 7-5?  It could happen, but if we go 7-5 due to otherworldly bad luck, that will be apparent in its own way and have little to do with underclassmen being underclassmen.  The main concern is if we'll sludgefart more games, and I'm saying Harbaugh is one heck of a mitigating factor there.  We'll drop 2-3 due to bad luck and injury, if only due to lack of depth, but I can't imagine Harbaugh standing by while we sludgefart 3-4 games on top of that.


July 6th, 2017 at 2:20 PM ^

OP, I agree 100%with your predictions! We will be an 11-1 Wisconsin team in BigTen Championship game.

Playoff 4: Alabama, Michigan, Florida State, and ???


July 6th, 2017 at 2:26 PM ^

Predictions are a silly exercise anyway, so they should be (and, generally, are) taken with a grain of salt and a helping of unserious good humor. There is a lot that is unknown, even the week before a mid-season game, and things that are thought to be predictable often aren't.

Who can predict that a mediocre Ole Miss team will give almighty Alabama a huge scare, every season? Who could have seen a barely .500 Pitt team winning AT Clemson? All national champions subsequent to the all-conquering 1995 Nebraska team have had at least one major scare in the regular season, often unexpected. That famous Ed Reed pick-six against BC? That was a bad BC team driving to score with a chance to beat that great MIami squad. Prior to its stunning upset at the hands of Texas, the all-powerful 2005 USC Trojans barely escaped a home game against Fresno State. Alabama's recent string of national titles has rarely come without a loss on their schedule.

There may be 8 programs on Michigan's schedule that Michigan is definitely better than, but that was true last year and we still almost lost to Colorado (a game NOBODY thought would be close in preseason) and completely spit the bit against Iowa. 

Weird stuff happens. This Michigan team could be great, it could be wildly frustrating and inconsistent. And it could have a surprisingly bad season, hobble into Thanksgiving weekend with four losses, no identity, and a QB controversy, and upset an undefeated Ohio State team.

After all, it's happened before.

AA Forever

July 6th, 2017 at 2:27 PM ^

Even If we are 90% favorites to win each of the 8 "easy" games (and we won't even be that high), the chances of winning all 8 are less than half. Do you need a list of how many games even really good Michigan teams have lost to teams they were better than? It's a long list, trust me. Upsets can and will happen, even more so with inexperience,a patchwork Oline and a non running, just OK passing QB.


July 6th, 2017 at 2:37 PM ^

a fair average since some of them are probably more like 95+ percent (Cinci, Air Force, Rutgers) which balances out the games that are lower. But the point remains that we are more likely to go 7-1 than 8-0 in those games.

I Like Burgers

July 6th, 2017 at 3:32 PM ^

ESPN's FPI, which has been fairly accurate with respect to Michigan the last few years, gives this for their odds:

Florida -- 47.4%

Cincy - 94.8%

Air Force - 95.5%

@Purdue - 92.6%

Michigan St. - 88.8%

@ Indiana - 74.7%

@ Penn St - 27%

Rutgers - 95%

Minnesota - 90.2%

@ Maryland - 83.7%

@ Wisconsin - 31.4%

Ohio State - 17.8%


In general, FPI doesn't like Michigan on the road against good teams because nearly all of their recent history against good teams on the road is bad.

Yost Ghost

July 7th, 2017 at 4:39 PM ^

You think 17.8% at home is decent? After only 2 victories in the last 16 years (yes I fucking hated typing that) and no victories over the Buckeyes in Harbaugh's tenure as coach I think our chances are better than 17.8%!


July 6th, 2017 at 3:35 PM ^

an 18 point spread is equivalent to a 95 percent win probability, which seems about right.  You'll win about 19/20 games in which you're favored by that much. You don't think we'll be around 18 point favorites against Air Force and Cinci at home?

Agree that Maryland on the road will be more like 80-85 percent.

Source: http://www.bettingtalk.com/win-probability-percentage-point-spread-nfl-…


July 6th, 2017 at 2:48 PM ^

Yep, we've had finer and more veteran squads fuck up a game vs lesser teams all the time - that was a Carr special.   That said it often happened on the road so the trap games I guess are @ Indiana, and @ Maryland to do an epic f--- up.  Indiana is earlier in the year and we all have made it a 100% win vs when their old coach was there when we'd have SOME trepidation since they'd have a high octane offense vs Debord.

That said again - this is why Harbaugh was brought in.  He is being paid like Saban Meyer or better in the latter case.  OSU fans don't worry about losses to lesser teams - OSU has just become automatic vs anything remotely inferior (I think 5 losses in regular season in his regime and 2 of those were in title games?  Something ludicrous like that)


Ron Utah

July 6th, 2017 at 2:34 PM ^

While I don't see a lot folks predicting 8-4, I will say that I believe the board is underestimating the difficulty of the Penn State game.  While PSU is not as talented or well-coached as Ohio State, they are still an experienced team with top-tier talent at key positions.  And the game is on the road.  And almost certainly a night game in a very tough environment.

Ohio State is the best team we'll play; Penn State is the toughest game on the schedule, IMO.  Don't let last year's trouncing in Ann Arbor fool you--Penn State is very good and that game will be tough.

That said, I would disappointed in anything worse than 10-2.  Harbaugh has the train rolling.


July 6th, 2017 at 5:28 PM ^

Fans have to stop believing that mattters. Championship teams win wherever they play. Championship coaches Coach where ever their teams play. That road game crap doesn't mean what fans think it means. Kids are excited to go out and rain on home team parades. The fans and those white shirts don't play the game.


July 6th, 2017 at 11:31 PM ^

Fans don't play. Signs come in from the sidelines. The noise really isn't that big of a deal and it depends on what type of kids you have on your team. If you have scary ass kids who don't respond well to wild or imposing environments....sure. if you have kids that don't walk in fear, then it doesn't matter. @ Penn STATE in [email protected] in 06 just for an example. Championship level teams kick ass wherever the game is played.


July 6th, 2017 at 4:40 PM ^

They would've lost last year by 21 points.  If OSU special teams don't implode at Happy Valley, there wouldn't be this ridiculous hype train.  If not for the train wreck in EL, I would've expected PSU to finish 4th in the B1G East.

Tyrone Biggums

July 6th, 2017 at 5:24 PM ^

Did you watch any of their games last year? Penn State is starting 7 true sophmores or freshman in the Oline 2 deep that was average at best last season. They lost the one big play receiver that bailed out their arm punt specialist qb on numerous occasions.

Their defense gave up an average of 47 points in their 3 losses, 52 in their last game with a 17 point offensive shutout in the 4th quarter of the bowl game. Saquon Barkley is legit but he's been corralled in each matchup against our D. Franklin can recruit but is an absolutely horrible in game coach.

This is year 3 of Harbaugh and year 2 of Don Brown! One of the clearest and observable changes in the team is the meritocracy and the will to win. There isn't anymore "wins are a stat" on the team.

Now that all of the best players from the Hoke regime have transitioned this is our first opportunity to see a real (hungry) predominately Harbaugh rostered team. OP is right the talent level is as high as it's been in a decade, BALLERS (talent + will to win) and fully I expect to see this team fly around the field, make big plays and get better every week. 

Do you want to see Harbaugh have a sideline meltdown and subsequent intervention?... because 8-4 is how that happens. The ball is oblong and bounces in funny ways, usually to our disadvantage. Time to return to the mean.

Our return to the BTCG is what Harbaugh is here for and I'm positive there isn't any talk in camp of anything but taking that 2017 B1G trophy and placing it along with the 42 others in Schembechler Hall. 

12-1 is realistic, you don't have to believe, they do. Ready for the season to start.


July 6th, 2017 at 2:37 PM ^

I mean I don't know about all the stuff up there in OP but I do know the OSU game should not be a loss at this point.  Not saying it will be an easy win, or not a dogfight but this is one Michigan needs to win.

OSU lost their whole damn team (yeah yeah I know they had some "young guys with game experience but damn they lost like 14 guys to the NFL the prior April) and went into a pretty decent Oklahoma last year in game 1 in August and WON.  None of this "we need a year to get better" or "we'll be better in November so just wait til then".  They just do it.   Harbaugh will have had the equivalent of a full season to prepare for OSU and get all these young guys into "young veteran" status by then, a lot of guys will have double digit games under their belt incl road games at Madison and Happy Valley.  So there is no excuse anymore. 

Sorry if Harbaugh can't win this game in year 3 AT HOME with a roster of HIS GUYS, it will be a mark on him.  The guy was hired to win red letter games and he is supposed to be a messiah.  Starting your career 0-3 and hoping to win on the road in year 4 in Columbus is not what anyone should be expecting for the money paid to the guy.


July 6th, 2017 at 3:10 PM ^

People keep acting like OSU exists in a vacuum, that they don't also have one of the top 3 coaches in college football, a near-unbroken line of elite talent retention and coaching for over a decade, a fertile recruiting ground and history of national success, and oodles of talent everywhere.  Michigan nearly won in Columbus last year, probably would have comfortably on a neutral field.  Even when Hoke beat OSU in 2011, the teams never felt that competitive.  But Michigan had farther to come back from, and OSU isn't slowing down or giving them any breathing room.  Jim Harbaugh is paid lots of money to win these gamUrban Meyer is paid just as much to win his, and he sure as shit isn't going to make it easy.  I am not going to judge a coaching staff based on their ability to win 1 game this early in the tenure.  Apparently that makes me a shitty fan, but so be it.  


July 6th, 2017 at 3:29 PM ^

I said this in the deleted thread and I'll say it again: The players in Harbaugh's first full class will be 2nd-year guys (redshirt freshmen / true sophomores) this year. 2014 and 2015 were small classes. OSU has been a top tier team for a few years. Harbaugh does NOT have to beat them this year. He's not playing with a similar deck. Next year? I'd be open to having the conversation.


July 6th, 2017 at 4:31 PM ^

That's been my view as well.  At some point he needs to win these games, but I think OSU being able to steamroll Michigan for the better part of a decade makes people believe it's easy, that Michigan should be able to return the favor.  But Michigan made OSU's job easy through some bad hires, incompetence, and bad luck.  OSU has no duty to return the favor, and as long as Meyer is there I sorta doubt that'll happen.  Michigan and Harbaugh will have to catch them, and that's going to take more than 2 years.


July 14th, 2017 at 12:39 PM ^

Saban is obviously number one.  So who do you think is better than Meyer?  IMO he is clearly the second best coach in the BCS era and CFP era so far.  3 national titles at 2 different schools.  



So in your opinion when can we expect Harbaugh to beat OSU?  


If he starts 0-3 against them that is pretty bad. 


July 6th, 2017 at 4:26 PM ^

"His guys" are mostly freshmen and sophomores. He's recovering from a two-year recruiting hole.

I mean, I'm not willing to write off the OSU game either; this is not the RR era, Michigan has athletes, there is almost no scenario in which we do not enter that game with me thinking we have a chance to win.

But last year was "the year" for real roster-related reasons and we happened to play OSU in Columbus and the combination of a poor OL and a redshirt sophomore 3-star QB with a bad shoulder meant the game came down to, literally, one inch of ground in OT.

I'll be disappointed if we lose, yeah. But I'm not going to start questioning Harbaugh's capability over it. This season would have to be a major disaster for me to start wondering if he's worth they hype and money.


July 6th, 2017 at 2:41 PM ^

I have given up trying to tamp down expectations, but "We are deeper and more talented than Penn state and Wisky" is at best, a deeply hypothetical statement and, in all honesty, is probably wrong.  

Michigan was going to have depth and talent issues this year, as the end of the Hoke era meant a drop-off in class size and talent relative to expectations.  Doesn't mean they'll be bad, but this is a team having to replace something like their top 4 pass catchers, a handful of offensive linemen, most of their secondary, a decent chunk of their defensive line, and assorted other pieces.  Yes, there's talent there behind them, but there are still question marks and there is a 100% certainty that some of those answers won't be positive.  

8-4 isn't bad.  It really isn't.  I think 9-3 is more likely, but trying to get wins at Wisconsin and at PSU is tough in any year, let alone a rebuilding one.  And no, Michigan isn't Alabama or OSU; they aren't in a position to just reload.  They will in the near future with Harbaugh, but it isn't there yet, and sticking your fingers in your ears and screaming that it isn't true doesn't change it.  

I think Michigan loses a close game to PSU, beats Wisconsin and UF, and is in a toss-up against OSU this year.  I also think they'll gag a game against someone else on the schedule people claim is a gimme because when was the last time that didn't happen.


July 6th, 2017 at 2:58 PM ^

That's fine.  It's also pretty young/unproven talent at a lot of positions.  Sure, I'd rather the team win 10+ games and move on to another dominant stretch in team history.  But last year's team went 10-3 and had basically an NFL defense and some very talented offensive players.  You lose games sometimes, and let's say they finish 9-4 with a bowl win, I'd be fine with it provided you could see a number of the younger players emerging as playmakers in 2018-2019.  


July 6th, 2017 at 6:59 PM ^

but that's an excuse that would work for 10ish of the B10 teams, and Michigan is not one of them.  They have everything they need, top facalities, some of the best/highest paid coaches in the game (in fact outside of the head coach 3 of them are making 7 figure salaries), a DC that has made chicken salad out of chicken shit year after year with talent maybe 70% of what he's working with now, and they have top level talent across the board.

A place like Michigan will always consider 8-4 a failure.  Previous coaches have said anything other then a B10 championship is a failure.


July 6th, 2017 at 2:42 PM ^

Agree with the OP that there are only 4 teams on the schedule with a pulse. We have to at least split with those 4. 1-3 or 0-4 against those teams would mean this team is average to below average. I don't think they are.

10-2 should be the floor for the season.


July 6th, 2017 at 2:45 PM ^

Critical games are Florida, @PSU, @Wisconsin, and Ohio State. 


@PSU is a lean win.  Florida is a tossup.  @Wisconsin and OSU are lean losses IMO.


Therefore I expect Michigan to have 9 or 10 wins depending on the result of the Florida game.  




July 6th, 2017 at 3:04 PM ^

I'd flip Wisconsin and PSU on that list.  PSU is not a top-5 team, but they have a higher ceiling than Wisconsin in my book.  I'm not a big Paul Chryst fan as a coach, and they have issues in the backfield as well as at QB, to say nothing of a secondary that probably won't be as good as they were last season.