Until sometime Saturday evening, Michigan’s season was somewhat of an enigma. Entering Big Ten play the anecdotal evidence for the season was a mixed bag. Good performances against bad teams, weak performances against good (Air Force offense and Notre Dame) and great (Alabama) teams. Purdue entered Big Ten play with a similar resume. Big wins against three bad teams and a close loss against Notre Dame. Vegas installed Michigan as a slight road favorite more on preseason expectations than what has happened thus far.
Michigan responded with an old school MANBALL beat down and the picture is starting to become clearer. This is not a juggernaut Michigan team that can contend with the top teams in the country, but it is also a team that hasn’t faced a major let down the likes Michigan St, Iowa, Nebraska and the rest of the Legends division have seen already this year. Michigan’s remaining schedule shows only one team rated higher than them on offense and defense (Ohio St) and three teams that eclipse them on offense (Nebraska) or defense (Michigan St and Iowa).
Projected Michigan Wins
[After THE JUMP, where does Denard rank among 2012 NCAA QBs?]
Michigan probably still has some losses on the board but losing more than 2 more games is becoming less likely and there is nearly a 40% chance of losing 1 or less to finish out Big Ten play. At 6.3 projected Big Ten wins, Michigan is comfortably in the driver’s seat of the Legends division. Nebraska sits almost a full game back and Michigan State is a full game and a half projected behind. A win at Michigan Stadium in a week and a half could be an elimination game for the Spartans.
Over five games we have seen good Denard and bad Denard, good Borges and bad Borges. At the end of an up and down stretch Denard sits at +6 EV with only six quarterbacks sitting between the totality of what he has done and the now immortal Geno Smith.
|1||Geno Smith||W Virginia||4||9.8||200%|
|2||Johnny Manziel||Texas A&M||4||8.5||107%|
|3||Seth Doege||Texas Tech||4||7.7||81%|
|4||Collin Klein||Kansas St||4||7.5||122%|
|6||Braxton Miller||Ohio St||6||7.0||202%|
This is where I just lose people who talk about benching Denard. There are going to be a few times you want to pull your hair out cheering for him, but opposing DCs (except Tim Tibesar who Toussaint keeps up at night, apparently) lose significantly more hair.
The defense has been top 10 caliber and getting better after a rough showing in Dallas. And it’s not as if Mattison doesn’t have the track to believe in the trend. In this year’s Big Ten, Michigan is by far the best positioned team going forward. Until the last game of the season I have Michigan as an underdog only once more, in Lincoln on Oct 27. A win there and Michigan is looking at a 60+% chance of entering Columbus at 9-2 and already having the Legends division wrapped up.
And there is still a very good chance Purdue is the team Michigan sees in Indianapolis. No post-season eligible Leaders team is projected to win more than 4.5 games and Purdue (4.4) and Wisconsin (4.3) are the only eligible teams projected to win more than 1-2 games.
For all the math I have, looking forward this is the equation I see:
Last week’s domination + the utter awfulness of the 2012 B1G = Good Things Ahead for Michigan
Michigan’s dominant first quarter pushed the odds up to 75% and by the time Ramon Taylor was in the end zone, the number was 90%. From there on Michigan bled it out Thomas Gordon sealed it with his interception of Robert Marve.
Offense: +14 EV, 28% WPA
Rush: +4, 12%
Pass: +10, 16%
Denard Robinson: +15, 27%
Fitzgerald Toussaint: –1, –0%
Jeremy Gallon: +2, 3%
Defense: –1, 4%
Rush: +2, 4%
Pass: –3, +0%
Ramon Taylor pick 6 (return not included in above numbers): +5, +6%
Note: WPA percentages won’t add up. There were some at stake in the second half that I didn’t include and special teams etc have a slight contribution, as well.
I must have a thing for Illinois. Last time I was in town for a game was RichRod’s final home win, the epic offensive showdown that featured 132 points. This year’s Michigan team is certainly much more complete and Illinois, well, maybe a bit more chew than in 2010. My numbers have this a 99% chance of Michigan winning. When you get to this point, the margin is a pure guess. Michigan could go conservative with an early win and you could end up with a margin like Purdue or it could just escalate quickly.
Michigan 44 Illinois 6