What did you expect? A look back

Submitted by Yo_Blue on November 20th, 2017 at 1:17 PM

Amongst the handwringing and angst following the Wisconsin loss, there seems to be two distinct camps.  First is the "Woe is me - fire everyone on offense" group  The second is the "What did you expect - everyone thought this before the season" group.

I was kind of in the middle with one foot securely in the "We saw this coming" camp.  This got me to thinking, what did we really believe before the season.  I checked back on the three biggest prediction links I could find:  The Athlon Prediction (LINK), the CFP Prediction (LINK), and the Front Page Preseason Predictions (LINK).

I was surprised, shocked even, to see the level of faith there was in this team.  I did not see the warnings that people are now claiming to have had.  I put together two charts, the first being individual predictions (I took the liberty of interpreting some comments based on the thread), and the second being people who saw Michigan in the College Football Playoffs.  Even Brian saw the season as a 10-2 to 12-0 outcome.

It was kind of fun to read the predictions, although heartbreaking in a way.  One theme was how bad Penn State sucked and that our 39 point victory in 2016 would be eclipsed despite playing them in Happy Valley, at night, during a white-out.  People universally thought McSorley could not armpunt his way to any kind of winning season and that Barkley was a sham who could be stopped without a succesful passing attack.  Another theme was how bad MSU would be this year with DrMantisToboggan predicting them to go winless but with a 6-6 ceiling as a possibility.  Of course MeanJoe07 made fart noises, but what else would you expect?

Chart 1 - Your season prediction (some added a bowl result while others didn't)

Poster W L
JWG Wolverine 10 2
not TOM BRADY 11 1
SoDak Blues 11 1
Duval Wolverine 11 1
Alton 9 3
stephenrjking 9 3
UM Fan from Sydney 11 1
ZoltanSmash 10 2
Blue Know It 10 2
uminks 9 3
Ron Utah 9 3
Tater 10 3
UMAmaizinBlue 9 4
BlueKoj 10 2
SpikeFan2016 10 2
maize-blue 10 2
HimJarbaugh 10 2
jdemille9 9 3
Ty Butterfield 8 4
markusr2007 9 3
Tuebor 10 2
Kevin13 9 3
AA Forever 9 3
CarrisMyHomeboy 9 3
Perkis-Size Me 12 0
Woodstock Wolverine 12 0
mgobob 10 2
rainingmaize 10 3
SC Wolverine 12 1
GoBlueInAlabama 11 1
Mr. Yost 11 1
Couzen Rick's 11 1
brad 11 1
Rabbit21 7 5
jabberwock 9 3
TC Wolverine 9 3
Charlie Bauman 12 2
SagNasty 12 0
Wolverine91 11 1
WolverineinDallas 10 2
Qmatic 11 1
Harbaugh's Left Elbow 10 2
Zarniwoop 10 2
Go for two 11 1
BrownJuggernaut 10 2
Apureidiot 12 1
MGoBlog worst case 8 4
MGoBlog best case 12 0
champswest 8 4
mgoblue98 12 0
Crime Reporter 8 4
Swayze Howell Sheen 12 0
MichiganTeacher 12 0

List 1 - List of posters predicting Michigan in the CFP

Go for two
Hotel Putingrad
Jack Hammer
Leroys Horde
M_Born M_Believer
Mr. Yost
Perkis-Size Me
SC Wolverine
swan flu
Swayze Howell Sheen
Woodstock Wolverine

My conclusions?  We weren't as rationale as I remembered.  I expected to see more 8-4 predictions and they really weren't there.  On the bright side, there were a number of Mr. Yost postings where he shared information he was hearing from the Submarine and they turned out to be incredibly accurate.  It may pay to listen to this man in the future about position groups and individual players (but not his CFP predictions).

Go Blue!  Beat the Bucks!


Blue and Joe

November 20th, 2017 at 1:28 PM ^

I see a lot of 2 and 3 loss predictions in there, which I think is fair. This is a 2 or 3 loss team with the starting QB playing all season. I think it's reasonable to add 1 or 2 losses on top of that for losing him and other key players.


November 20th, 2017 at 2:03 PM ^

But if the fanbase is clammoring for Peters in August can you really say they'd change their prediction if they knew Speight was going to miss the latter 2/3 of the season?  People wanted him benched.  It wasn't until O'Korn looked horrible against MSU that people realized how important Speight was.


November 20th, 2017 at 5:05 PM ^

To be a running engine of negativity toward the program. No one likes to lose, expectations at UM are high. That said, we are likely 8-4 this season. Compared to where we were in 2014, I'm very happy. Talk to FSU, Nebraska, ND last year, Texas, Florida etc. these are great programs with disappointing results of late. UM is competitive. We are winning the games we should win. We are not elite yet. If in three years we are in the same boat, we can talk. Until then, be happy with our defense and we have a shot to knock OSU off.


November 20th, 2017 at 2:29 PM ^

I predicted 10-2. I really thought going .500 in their 4 toughest game wasn't too crazy of an idea. We are now staring at 8-4, unless a huge upset occurs, and to me that is the worst case scenario for the season. Yuk.


November 21st, 2017 at 9:51 AM ^

Yep, he did, but his second string was an exceptional talent and played for the entire regular season and his third stringer wasn't a Freshman like ours is. Cardale Jones had multiple years in Meyer's system - this is only BP's second year here and Coach Harbaugh is also relatively new here and still installing his system and getting all of the players to be his recruits.


Not a fair comparison at all.



November 20th, 2017 at 2:40 PM ^

This is a little unfair, because most people, like MGoBlog, had a range of expectations. And I wouldn't be surprised if this chart represents posters' most optimistic projections, rather than what they thought was most likely.

That being said, people have been cherry picking recently to say that they expected 8-4. The reality is that 8-4 was their floor, not necessarily their actual expectation. And the difference between one win or loss this season is the difference between a bad and fine season.

The Maizer

November 21st, 2017 at 4:54 PM ^

It's not exactly cherry picking, it's just that there isn't a real metric here. You touched on it, but I think it's very significant for this that what you type on a blog to strangers does not necessarily reflect your actual expectations.

I expected we'd be 8-4 and after Florida I expected 9-3. But it's more fun to be optimistic and I would have been more likely to say we have a chance at 10-2 or 11-1.


November 20th, 2017 at 2:42 PM ^

I predicted 9-3. The only surprise for me was MSU. I figured we'd lose @PSU, @Wisconsin, and vs OSU. I thought 10-2 if we had a lucky bounce somewhere along the way. We aren't really underperforming that much as a whole, but the offense has left much to be desired - for many reasons.

Ghost of Fritz…

November 20th, 2017 at 2:46 PM ^

1.  Thought the offense would be better and also very different.  I bought into the 'Pep is bringing 5 wide spread passing concepts' Koolaid.  Nope.

2.  Thought the corners would be a problem.  Did not see how the D would work as well without a total shutdown corner (Lewis).  Turned out to be a really strong position group, perhaps second only to the d-line.

3.  Thought Penn State would regress (hence I predicted a M win).

4.  Thought we would beat MSU.  Shoulda beat MSU.  But terrible game plan. 5 turnovers.  Monsoon.

5.  Thought 10-2 was most likely (based in above incorrect predictions), then 9-3 next most likely based on dropping a game that we should have won, such as IU or MSU). 



November 20th, 2017 at 3:02 PM ^

When Brian does his season preview, he phrases his worst case as "not counting massive injury issues".  I feel like we're approaching that territory now.  First string QB out.  Second string QB ineffective.  Third string QB out.  Early leading reciever out.  Two most veteran recievers nagged by injuries.  Two of top three tailbacks nagged by injuries.  I know every team has to deal with them, but we don't have the depth right now to plug and play.


November 20th, 2017 at 4:11 PM ^

There's only so much reading about Ohio State I can stomach in an effort to answer that question.  However, it looks like they have a starting lineman on each side of the ball out for the year, plus a couple other injuries.


November 20th, 2017 at 3:04 PM ^

Great post. I think some of the frustration we're feeling isn't just how the season is ending compared with preseason expectations, but rather how it's ending compared to expectations after Week 1 vs. Florida. When we destroyed Florida in the second half, I had high hopes for this year. I didn't realize that Florida was garbage, our defense looked like world beaters, and our offense looked functional. 

Ecky Pting

November 20th, 2017 at 3:33 PM ^

Excerpted from B1G Expectations Preseason Redux post on Aug. 13:

With the exodus of so much talent and experience from Team 137, it appears that the fancy-stats love affair with Michigan under Harbaugh has come to an end. The most likely records range from 9-3 (S&P+) to 7-5 (the Power Rank), but with a slight lean in the PR distribution toward 8 wins. Michigan gets just a modest beneficial effect from its schedule (w.r.t. the PR distribution), as the games break to an 8-4 (5-4) record. Michigan is favored by double-digits in 8 games by both S&P+ and FPI, but in only 5 games by PR. PR also shows M with margins of less than one score in 5 games, which means volatility. Florida, Wisconsin, Penn State and Ohio State at this point are favored by PR with UM being more than a one-score dog to PSU and Wisconsin. The opener against Florida looks like one of the closest matchups on the season, and so will be critical from the standpoint of getting UM off the schneid and setting the tone for the remainder of the season. Meanwhile, the tussle with fellow bubble team Indiana is M’s tightest match of the year, with a margin of only 1.6 points.

Here are some sobering statistical observations:

  • Chances of Michigan improving on last season (i.e. winning 11 or more): 1-12%.
  • Chances of a Michigan losing season: less than 2% to about 11%.
  • Chances of Michigan going undefeated: less than 2%.


  • S&P: 9-3 (6-3)
  • PR:   8-4 (6-3)
  • FPI:   8-4 (6-3)


Harbaugh's Lef…

November 20th, 2017 at 5:02 PM ^

I'm not too sure about that. This team is not going to lose many players, all while growing a year older and better, while doing it together.

While Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State are all on the road, the schedule actually breaks down in a more favorable manner. Yes, Notre Dame to start the season but then they don't leave Ann Arbor, finishing OOC with Western Michigan and SMU and opening Big Ten play again Nebraska until heading to Evanston. Maryland the following week before the toughest two week stretch in my mind, Wisconsin at home and Michigan State in EL. Off week right before Penn State and then @Rutgers and home to Indiana before The Game. 

Even with those three tough road games, not as bad as it could be.


November 20th, 2017 at 7:40 PM ^

I expected 10-2 with losses to PSU and Wisconsin. The season is a disappointment not only for the loses but for the lack of progress offensively. They haven’t improved all year


November 20th, 2017 at 8:14 PM ^

I did not submit a prediction because I wasn't willing to put anything less than division champions in writing and I don't like being foolish.  I dismissed all 12-0 predictions as either homerism (I get it) or woefully biased.  I am sure many of us assumed we would have a slightly improved Wilton Speight for the whole season.

I did pay attention to those who said 9-3 and 11-2 with a hope to split Wisconsin and PSU as tough road games and then losing to the safety net school of central Ohio.  Many suspected the occurrence of an unexpected loss.  I congratulate MSU for grinding out another victory but I didn't expect it and I don't think they could count on 5 turnovers and a key holding call if the game were played again.  Our Wolverines were on their way to victory over Wisconsin before attrition set in.  (Sometimes the deeper team wins.)  My personal opinion is that the September Wolverines would win in Madison 2 of 3 times.  But no one should care about that.

I was really taken in by the Don Brown bandwagon.  After reading several articles on how great Don Brown's defenses are in year two regardless of class rank and experience I was rather stunned that anyone scored on the Wolverines at all.  I attributed early scores on poor offensive performance putting the defense in bad positions.  Little did I grasp that even Don Brown and Greg Mattison with Mone, Gary, Hurst, and Bush cannot stop all offenses all the time.  I should have known better as advanced stats don't lie.


November 20th, 2017 at 8:16 PM ^

I predicted 9-3 with losses to: OSU, one of PSU/Wisconsin, and one stupid game we shouldn’t have lost ( most likely Indiana). I expected wins over UF and Sparty, but Sparty turned out to be the stupid game.


November 21st, 2017 at 10:01 AM ^

Yup. I thought 10-2, with a win over Florida (correct) and going 1-2 against PSU/UW/OSU (technically still could happen-of those three I thought PSU was the most likely loss and Wisconsin was the most likely win). The MSU loss was always my best chance for an upset, but I really thought we'd win a close one and not lose at home.

Great post.


November 21st, 2017 at 5:38 PM ^

We are FANS, after all, which means we have all the objectivity of a bunch of 14 year-old girls lined up for a boy band show.  So what if we went in wildly over-optimistic?  That's kind of what we're supposed to do.  At the same time, we need to have a little perspective when things don't work out.  This shit is supposed to be fun.  Don't jump off a bridge when a game we have ZERO control over doesn't go as hoped.  Screaming "UNACCEPTABLE!!!" ain't gonna change anything.