2018 FPI Preseason Ratings

Submitted by Ecky Pting on February 14th, 2018 at 5:10 PM

So the 2018 Football Power Index (FPI) Preseason Ratings have just posted, and the results are not terribly dissimilar from those posted last week by Bill Connelly of S&P+ fame, and they are not terribly dissimilar from last season's preseason's ratings for that matter, with the exception of Sparty, who has bounded back up into top-tendom.

These ratings are based on the following criteria:

  • Team performance over the past four seasons (most emphasis on last season)
  • Returning starters at quarterback, on offense overall and on defense
  • Whether a team has a returning head coach
  • Recruiting rankings over the past four seasons

Some notables? M is looking at a bitch of schedule, playing 5 of the top 12 teams, and 3 of those on the road. What's more, the next 3 highest rated opponents are in the upper half of the rankings, and the lowest 4 are at least in the third quartile.

As for the team breakdowns, the M defense remains elite, 2nd only to Clemson. M is also remarkably the elite-est in Special Teams! Offense looks to remain on the dicey side, and is what is clearly pulling this team down overall.

So here's a grab of the top 25 of the rankings, along with M's 2018 opponents in bold, including M, since if M is going to stand any chance of beating these other teams, the first thing they're going to have to do is not beat themselves.

Rank Team FPI Off. Def. S/T
1 Clemson 25.5 7 1 27
2 Alabama 23.2 4 8 8
3 Georgia 23.1 2 9 9
4 Ohio State 22.4 6 7 3
5 Notre Dame 22.3 11 3 10
6 Washington 22.3 8 6 5
7 Auburn 20.1 18 4 13
8 Penn State 19.9 3 18 14
9 Oklahoma 19.0 1 30 35
10 Michigan State 18.8 15 10 6
11 Michigan 18.8 32 2 1
12 Wisconsin 17.4 10 17 16
13 Stanford 16.4 5 34 7
14 Miami (FL) 16.2 23 11 20
15 USC 15.0 28 13 4
16 Mississippi State 14.8 19 15 56
17 Texas 14.2 58 5 2
18 Florida State 13.1 16 27 52
19 Oregon 12.5 20 24 40
20 Texas A&M 12.5 25 23 23
21 Oklahoma State 12.4 13 35 43
22 Florida 12.2 31 16 36
23 Virginia Tech 11.5 46 14 17
24 Georgia Tech 10.8 9 50 67
25 Iowa 10.6 38 21 18
32 Northwestern 8.5 57 20 19
50 Nebraska 4.0 49 63 15
60 Maryland 1.2 43 81 38
66 Indiana -1.4 79 70 48
68 Rutgers -1.8 90 54 29
72 Western Michigan -2.6 55 96 49
90 Southern Methodist -6.7 80 95 107



Indy Pete - Go Blue

February 14th, 2018 at 5:42 PM ^

I don't see what you are talking about, we are playing 5 top 12 teams.  Just because we are in the top 12 does not mean we are playing ourselves. Now, hypothetically, I do think we may have managed to lose that game in the 2017 season. Hopefully our fortunes will change and we don't beat ourselves this year (or lose to ourselves?)

Arb lover

February 14th, 2018 at 8:24 PM ^

Interesting quote from Calvin Anderson yesterday. Sort of looking like a two-fer, or none. 

“I’ll leave it at this, I want Shea Patterson to play.”

I feel like most people don't say things like that unless they want to play for the team in question, especially if you might otherwise face him in the CFP.


February 14th, 2018 at 5:25 PM ^

I am a little surprised that they had Michigan as the number 1 ranked special teams as we had many downsides last year like several muffed punts, inconsistent punting, and good, but inconsistent kicking from Nordin.

We return so much talent, we really should have a quality team.

If our offense really will be ranked #32 that is a big deal with how good our defense should be.

Eye of the Tiger

February 14th, 2018 at 5:34 PM ^

These are equation-generated lists, and no one should expect them to be fully accurate. But usually there are a few placements that seem more dubious than others. 

Reasoning: while PSU has recruited well over several cycles, they are losing (a) their one game-changing athlete, (b) their one unblockable passing threat, (c) the guy who designed their offensive turnaround over the past 2 seasons and (d) most of their veteran defensive players. 

They will replace that with (a) a very talented RB who is nevertheless a step down from Barkley, (b) some okay WRs and TEs, (c) a "Franklin guy" from his Vanderbilt years and (d) guys whose performance will probably be more 2015 or 2016 than 2017. 

They will still be pretty good, and will still be a tough out for us, but they won't be the same team they've been since mid-season in 2016. 




February 14th, 2018 at 6:00 PM ^

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing.  They lose quite a bit that made their offense so dangerous, and even with 85% quality replacements I'm not sure that equates to a top-8 team.  It's also weird to see Michigan's offense so closely tied with USC, as while the Trojans haven't had face-melting offenses in recent years I like their skill position players more than Michigan's even with a new QB.

Also, I don't quite understand where MSU's #15 offense comes from considering last year's unit was statistically worse than Michigan's per S&P+ and also lost their #2/#3 WR in Rison and a good RB in Madre London.  Maybe Lewerke makes a leap and plays out of his mind, but he already was the second-leading rusher on that team and obviously their best passer.  So them being placed in the same general offensive vicinity as Auburn, FSU, Oklahoma St., etc. seems a bit of a stretch.

As for Michigan, this feels a bit high, just because of the uncertainty on offense.  They absolutely have top-8 talent as a team, but so much is unknown on offense right now that I couldn't tell you how they'll look.  I know it's fashionable to shit on the OC and playcalling, but a fully operational Michigan offense would look a lot of last year's unit (running the ball was solid the back half of the year) with more downfield completions.  And assuming normal maturation by players, that's a real possibility this year provided they can get some even passable pass blocking.


February 14th, 2018 at 6:44 PM ^

MSU’s O is better than the numbers say. If you watch them play, they call the game extremely situationally—there’s a scoring offense when circumstances dictate and an ultra-conservative approach when they don’t.

It sounds crazy but Lewerke has a lot in common with JT Barrett. Runs it 10 or so times a game, decent intermediate passer, not that fast or accurate but good enough at everything that it’s hard to stop.


February 14th, 2018 at 7:20 PM ^

Michigan State's offense was worse than ours this year lol they threw the ball well but they couldn't really run the ball and were constantly behind the sticks. Yes, I realize that they won more games than we did, but their schedule was easier and their D was just as good as ours (I actually think they have a bigger weakness than our D does but nobody attacked it well last year, save for OSU). Their offense was actually worse than ours.


February 14th, 2018 at 7:50 PM ^

I thought he would have left by now too, I think he's very good. However, with London leaving he's really the only RB with experience now. If he can stay healthy he can play himself into a much higher draft stock (I'm sure teams have taken note of the fact that he's an idiot). However, if he can't stay healthy MSU has no one at RB. 


February 14th, 2018 at 8:45 PM ^

I hear this said a couple of times, that Lewerke and MSU's offense is better than the numbers, and maybe they are a bit.  But there was situational reason for throwing the ball 14 times, completing 2, for 20 yards against Maryland.  It was a rough game with the weather (if memory serves me right), but still, 2/14 for 20 yards is atrocious.  He was also 11/22 for 94 yards against Michigan, and (I believe) threw more passes in the second than Michigan until that final drive.

Also, I think people overrate his running a bit.  He's fine running the ball, but their line gave up a number of sacks (21 on the year) and a number of those runs were broken plays where Lewerke got free.  JT Barrett can consistently get yards with designed runs; Lewerke is much more boom-or-bust runner, though that can be effective in doses.  He's also their only real rushing threat for long stretches of the year, and I do wonder if they'd run him as much if Scott wasn't AWOL for the first half of the year.

I think he's a good QB, and he'll be a pain in the ass for a year or two more.  But their offense is as janky as Michigan's and my guess is if they started their second/third-string QBs for most of the year, their offense would have looked demonstrably work than Michigan's which is pretty amazing.

Arb lover

February 14th, 2018 at 10:55 PM ^

Actually of all the top 12 teams that we play we play Penn State after most everyone else gets to them (minus Wisconsin), and generally have first dibbs at the other topish teams, with the exception of OSU who we expect to be still ranked high when we play them.

I'm saying it's going to be good if Penn State is overranked and Sparty knocks them off while they are still decently rated (4-1 with a loss to OSU), and gets a boost before we play MSU, (potentially allowing a #7-8 and 6-0 sparty vs Michigan). Words cannot describe how much I would love to beat a #7 6-0 sparty in EL. Wisconsin's only two tough games are vs us and Penn State. The Conference championship needs to *look* like a good matchup/rematch and as logically we can't have all the B1G top teams win out; PSU losing to all the top teams does us the most favors. 


February 14th, 2018 at 5:39 PM ^

If we have the #2 defense and #1 ST this year we are going to win 11 or 12 games, and we're certainly going to beat Notre Dame in week 1. Their offense will not be the 11th best in the country - they lost a lot on that side of the ball. 


February 14th, 2018 at 7:53 PM ^

It would be irrational not to expect a large improvement from the passing offense when we had our 3rd string QB and mostly freshman and sophomore receivers, and our best WR broke his foot. 


We don't need a top 10 offense to win double digit games, so long as our D is top five, which it will be. We just need the offense to be top 40, at least.


February 15th, 2018 at 7:57 AM ^

I think conventional wisdom would agree with you.  But, I would have thought the same thing after 5 weeks of practice before the bowl game against S. Carolina, yet no improvement occurred and in fact regression did.


We don't need a top 10 offense, but we do need an effective one that can throw the ball effectively and protect the QB.


February 14th, 2018 at 5:53 PM ^

I am really disappointed with Manuel. The next year's schedule is a joke. Why schedule ND on the road when the last ND game was on the road as well before they dumped us? B1G is just screwing with us on schedule (like consecutive road MSU games) and we are just taking it.

No wonder we are just punching bags, it starts from the very top.


February 15th, 2018 at 2:29 PM ^

Then Harbaugh is an idiot, if insider claims are true.  He's the one who wanted the game.  I'm not happy with it, but it isn't "idiotic."

It can't be overstated that it is far better to play MSU away the same year as OSU than it is to play PSU away the same year as OSU.  We are going to play two out of three on the road in any given year. 


February 14th, 2018 at 9:15 PM ^

I’m sick of this logic. They come out of it with 1-2 losses and still somehow make the big championship and win how do you keep them out of the playoffs. To be the best you have to beat the best. The schedule might not be as daunting as the season goes on too. Teams sometimes are not what you thought they were, or unfortunate injuries occur that change circumstance. Those teams have to play Michigan too, but this whole attitude of awww the schedule is so tough is a cop out


February 14th, 2018 at 6:18 PM ^

Could be wrong, was that still Brandon? If Manuel, a big screw up, 3 rivalry games on the road. We have to win at least 1. At least. And sweep the rest.


February 14th, 2018 at 7:04 PM ^

Am I still reeling from Jan 1? YES. I can’t be the only one gun-shy from watching us get whacked by S. Carolina while realizing that nearly the same team will take the field next fall and charge into one of the toughest schedules in college football. And, this winter has been a dumpster fire so far. I wouldn’t put us in the top 25, let alone top 11. Why should I think otherwise?


February 14th, 2018 at 7:10 PM ^

Because teams never improve, especially young teams. I find that young teams, as they get older and more experienced, actually get worse. You're definitely correct. You definitely can't point to any teams in close proximity to Michigan that recently had dramatic win total improvements from just one season to the next.


February 14th, 2018 at 7:45 PM ^

I'm torn on that one.  Conventional wisdom would lean toward improvement.  Although I'm not sure MSU (I think who you're referencing in close proximity) is a good measuring stick to UM.  They are not at all similar to UM in the past decade.  But, having expected improvement in last year's bowl game only to be disapointed, I'm taking the approach that I'll believe it when I see it.  I'll expect only what I've seen so far from last season.


February 15th, 2018 at 12:50 AM ^

(Looks west)

This winter has been relatively drama free. Add Winovich. Add Patterson. 2018 looks brighter already.

The only drama has been fan-based hysteria in reaction to an average recruiting class (2018 impact minimal) and no coaching changes - at least not the ones certain MGoBlog whiners wanted.

Jeez - the talent is adequate to beat anyone on our schedule. And so is the coaching.

Dumpster fire? Please cuz!


February 14th, 2018 at 7:26 PM ^

I'm a little surprised ND is that high.  They are replacing 4 of their 5 starting o-lineman, TE, RB (NFL), and QB who is a very good runner, but not a great passer.  On defense they are replacing 5 starters.