2013 Phil Steele Top 40 Countdown: #24 Michigan & #23 MSU

Submitted by Leaders And Best on May 31st, 2013 at 9:26 AM

2013 Phil Steele Preseason Top 40 Countdown revealed he has Michigan #24 and MSU #23. More importantly, you can get a PDF preview of his writeups on both teams on his website. I still think Steele's previews are the best of all the preview mags just for the stats page.

Countdown: http://www.philsteele.com/miscpages/2013Top40Countdown.html

Michigan (#24): http://www.philsteele.com/Pdf/2013Top40Countdown/24Michigan.pdf

MSU (#23): http://www.philsteele.com/Pdf/2013Top40Countdown/23MichiganSt.pdf

The links for previously covered teams are still active if you are interested. Some teams of note:

Northwestern (#32): http://www.philsteele.com/Pdf/2013Top40Countdown/32Northwestern.pdf

Penn St (#34): http://www.philsteele.com/Pdf/2013Top40Countdown/34PennSt.pdf



May 31st, 2013 at 9:30 AM ^

I am not getting how MSU is getting such love relative to our team. I think their place here is about right but we should be about ten spots above them, no? Maybe I am too much of a homer.


May 31st, 2013 at 10:02 AM ^

NW is just very pesky. I agree that they are improving and they are a team that if you don't bring it on that day they will beat you. However, I do not think that they will rise to the top of the conference, just continue to be that pain in the ass team that gives alot of teams a hard time.


May 31st, 2013 at 10:51 AM ^

Northwestern was +14 in TO margin last year according to Steele's write up. That alone probably contributed to at least 1 or 2 extra wins last season. Their schedule is more difficult this season as well. While they could finish 9-3 in the regular season, I think 7-5 is a lot more likely.


May 31st, 2013 at 9:38 AM ^

It's all about the schedule. They would probably have an extra 2 losses with our schedule.

They also have a top 10 defense nationally with a lot of starters returning. Offense will struggle for sure, but won't need to score a ton to win games. They also lost a lot o close games last year so if their "luck" reverts back to the mean, they may take an extra game or two.


May 31st, 2013 at 10:04 AM ^

They had a top 10 defense last year and couldn't do squat with their offense.  I'm not sure why this year will be different.  While they lost a lot of close games, they won an equal amount of close games.  Schedule shouldn't be taken into account when determining who is the best team.  Preseason rankings don't mean much anyways.  In 2011, I thought we were criminally underrated when everyone was talking about how we'd win 6 games.  In 2012, I knew we were overrated.  Now, in 2013 I feel the same as 2011.


May 31st, 2013 at 2:30 PM ^

People always harp on MSU's close losses last year, but their record in close games was 4-5 which is almost exactly what you would expect. UM's was 2-3. Not only was their offense weak last year, but their one difference-maker (Bell) is gone. Their passing game was inept. Maxwell might be better this season, but as a 5th year senior he has limited room to grow and their OL looks like a mess.

Also agree on schedule strength. It should be considered when predicting a team's record, but should have no bearing on rankings.



May 31st, 2013 at 10:02 AM ^

will be hard to score on, but Burbridge better go all Braylon if they are going to move the ball.   Staee has to run more complex stuff on offense.  They do not have the horses to simply grind it out and win.  They try to play Alabama football with, well, Michigan State talent and they just bang their head into the wall.  They are going to be the things they are, stout, gritty, clingy, and personal foul-ly.  I think they are ranked about right.

As for us, who the hell knows.  I will tell you when I know what Devin is.

Leaders And Best

May 31st, 2013 at 10:37 AM ^

I think they play more of a Jim Tressel Ohio style with MSU talent. But only a couple teams on their schedule have the talent to expose them: Michigan, Notre Dame, and Nebraska. Maybe Northwestern. Split a couple of those games and hold serve and they could sneak into a 9 win season.


May 31st, 2013 at 10:08 AM ^

I'm with ya. I think they are still riding the coat tails of there past resonable success in the past 4-5 years. Their defense should be pretty good again but nothing about their offense grabs any attention. I may predict that they will be worse on offense this year than last. I we win convincingly this year this should knock them back to the middle of the pack where they should be.


May 31st, 2013 at 9:55 AM ^

"UM got better his next 2 yrs going 5-7 and 7-6 but I had set the magic number at 8 for Rich Rod to keep his job and despite getting to 8 wins, he was let go after a 52-14 bowl loss."

Leaders And Best

May 31st, 2013 at 10:42 AM ^

I only use his magazine to reference the projected depth charts and the schedule/stats page. A nice mag to complement watching games on Saturdays. With the internet, the need for it is declining although it is nice to have all that stuff crammed on one page.


May 31st, 2013 at 9:56 AM ^

Eh -- I'm not seeing it with MSU.  Barring a huge improvement at the QB position, their offense will be pretty bad.  They didn't lose a lot of numbers on defense, but the few that they lost were their best players. 


May 31st, 2013 at 9:56 AM ^

MSU should win at least 9 games this year with their schedule. I think they'll bounce back from their mediocre season last year. Defense will be pretty good, don't know if the offense will be as bad. Though they did lose Bell and their OL depth is pretty much absent.

Leaders And Best

May 31st, 2013 at 10:12 AM ^

Last year before division realignment with an extremely favorable schedule. He returns a defense loaded with multiple year starters and seniors. They should have an experienced OL to start the season (3 seniors). He needs to get MSU to the Big Ten Championship Game in 2013 or his program could suffer a huge setback.

MSU will be in full rebuild mode in 2014 and will have to do it in the new Big Ten East while drawing Nebraska in 2014 & 2015. It could be years before they have another shot at the Big Ten title.


May 31st, 2013 at 11:52 AM ^

but MSU (and Wisconsin to a degree) benefitted from either not playing Michigan or Ohio State or playing them when they were awful. Penn State is going to be turrible for a while, but even given that, MSU isn't going anyway with Michigan and OSU being in their division.

Wisconsin OTOH still has a delightfully fluffy schedule and may continue to be 'elite' until they actually have to play Michigan or Ohio State


May 31st, 2013 at 10:18 AM ^

I think 9 wins is probably their ceiling but their floor is probably 7. Not a lot of variance for them next season unless something really weird happens. I think they will go 8-4.

Likely losses: @Notre Dame, @Nebraska and @Northwestern

Toss ups: Michigan and @Iowa

Likley wins: WMU, USF, YSU, Indiana, Purdue, @Illinois and Minnesota


May 31st, 2013 at 10:45 AM ^

While I agree with you re: Northwestern being overrated (see my post specifically about NW going 7-5), I think that game will still go in the Cats favor as it is the home finale for NW and I think NW will be able to score in the low 20's against MSU's defense which is almost certainly enough to beat Sparty with their putrid offense.

I also agree that Iowa could be really bad, that doesn't mean that they can't beat a pretty "meh" MSU squad in Iowa City. I believe they played MSU close in EL last season IIRC. Thus my labeling the game a "tossup".  Heck, I think Iowa could beat Michigan in Iowa City this year and UM will probably be much better than MSU.



May 31st, 2013 at 10:23 AM ^

With regards to the schedule...

Based on Massey's algorithm, Michigan State stands a greater than 80% chance against six of the teams on their schedule and anywhere from a 50% to 79% chance with another two. The only four games in which they would be estimated to be underdogs are Northwestern, Michigan (really almost a tossup with a slight edge to Michigan), Notre Dame and Nebraska. On the other hand, we have five games where our chances would be estimated at 80% or better, but also five games in the 50% to 79% range. Actually, Massey has three games (Penn State, Michigan St. and Northwestern) that would probably be considered tossups by this output. 

Looking at Sagarin's numbers from last year (most recent), Michigan State also has only four teams (ND, Michigan, Northwestern and Nebraska) with a number superior to their own. We only have two such teams, but our distribution is not nearly as skewed towards the lower end of the ratings as State's seems to be. 

As for Bell, it should definitely be noted that he was responsible for about 40% of their total offensive production last year, and overcoming that will certainly be no small feat for the Spartans.  

Ali G Bomaye

May 31st, 2013 at 10:07 AM ^

Phil should take note that he doesn't need to worry about computers running out of pixels, and start writing in full words.  Trying to decipher a convoluted abbreviation every third word is maddening, and makes me feel like I'm texting with a high schooler who just happens to have an encyclopedic knowledge of stats.


May 31st, 2013 at 10:07 AM ^

Unless MSU is fielding the greatest defense ever, they're not going to be that good. They're going to be like last year but possibly even worse on offense. A lot of 13-6 games (wins and losses)


May 31st, 2013 at 10:08 AM ^

I actually think their offense could be worse.  I've watched most of their games from last year and it was all Bell.  If Bell isn't doing well, the offense was incedibly ugly.  Dion Sims is another huge loss.  According to my Sparty friends who are close to the program, the RB and TE situations are terrible.

Ali G Bomaye

May 31st, 2013 at 10:17 AM ^

I am unclear why he includes a review of some units (e.g. the rushing defense) back to 2006, seeing as we have an entirely different coaching staff and set of players now.

Benoit Balls

May 31st, 2013 at 10:22 AM ^

they have Michigan tied for 11th most likely to wind the MNC at 28/1 and Sparty at 100/1, so I don't understand all these preseason publications/rankings that have Michigan just barely (if at all) in the top 25.

Like some others above have said, thats fine. I remember pundits talking about how Colorado was going to beat up on us in 1997.


May 31st, 2013 at 10:29 AM ^

Did I see a different MSU team than everyone else. They didnt look good at all last yr and the only production that they did have on offense left. I also think that Michigan is underrated.