Michigan's record as an underdog

Submitted by BannerToucher85 on November 20th, 2017 at 2:32 PM

The diary on coins landing tails got me wondering where is our Iowa vs. OSU type moment since upsets seem like fairly random events. I don't follow odds, so I settled on this site for some historical information, and ran the following query for several Big Ten teams:

"You selected XXXXX against anyone during the regular or post season at any location over 30 games as an underdog of 1 to 60 points"

Unfortunately the results were about what I expected

Team      Record as underdog since start of 2012 season
Michigan            1-18   (Harbaugh is 0-5)
Iowa                7-19
Penn State          9-16
MSU                 11-9
Northwestern        13-17   since 10/5/13
Rutgers             5-25    since 10/25/14
Wisconsin           5-9
Ohio State          6-0

Michigan is clearly an outlier here and it suggests that this program simply doesn't win as an underdog. Is this a culutral thing? Luck thing? OP bad at statistics thing?

Edit: added OSU at 6-0 since I was counting from the start of the 2012 regular season. I had excluded the 2011 postseason.

Edit: Michigan's one win was against Northwestern in Nov 2013.



November 20th, 2017 at 2:38 PM ^

think there is an element of this that is due to the fact that Michigan simply can't sneak up on people.  Michigan walks around with a scope light on their back, and when they are down it just makes teams want to get their shot even more. 


November 20th, 2017 at 2:47 PM ^

but there are other big names who still unexpectedly pull out big upsets or win huge games. It feels like it's been a decade or more since Michigan's last huge win or big upset win


November 20th, 2017 at 2:51 PM ^

OSU is something like 7-1 as the underdog under Urban Meyer, that is a bullshit excuse.  We haven't beaten a team through scheme alone in a long time.


November 20th, 2017 at 5:26 PM ^

Man ain't that the truth. I've said it before and I still believe it to be true, our offensive scheme is just too complex to be effective against top level defenses without established upperclassmen who have been in the system for 3+ years. Too many points of failure on any given play vs a more spread system IMHO. 


November 20th, 2017 at 3:12 PM ^

I don't, man.  It is accurate.  Wouldn't have hurt to be able to kind of come into Wisconsin under the radar, barely in the CFP ranking, losses to our only ranked opponents.

Nope, instead we go to Madison and get College Gameday.

Think about it.  How often are we an underdog in a remotely winnable game for us that is not also one of the biggest games of the year for the opponent?  It almost never happens.  We never get that combination.  Also, we joke about how every team is our rival, but there is an element of truth to it. 

Michigan is never in a position to sneak up on a team.  Now, should we just flat out win some games when we are not favored?  Sure.  But this is a perfectly reasonable factor into why the record is as bad as it is. 


November 20th, 2017 at 3:17 PM ^

I uh...

People dont take weeks off vs Blue Bloods. That 1-18 isnt on the other teams that is on us. Once the game kicks off it all comes down to execution. If we execute with our talent we win. Only OSU Bama and Fsu arguably had more talent then us. This is a Michigan problem.


December 2nd, 2017 at 3:18 AM ^

And brought the “arguably” into play. Well done.

What i was saying is only three teams we have played have brought in talent at or above our level the last 5 years. 1-18 would reflect us being at a huge talent disadvantage in those 19 games.


November 20th, 2017 at 7:52 PM ^

Its this type of attitude, the unwarranted arrogance and entitlement, that make others hate the Michigan fanbase. but I think it is a problem because it probably permeates the program as well. How do you make a lame excuse while being arrogant at the same time?

3-17 against our 2 biggest rivals. 1-18 as an underdog since 2012. Haven't won the Big Ten in 14 years.

Stop making excuses. We are not special. We don't beat anyone good. This cannot be explained away as "Every team considers us a rival". We are the 5th or 6th best program in the Big Ten. 


November 21st, 2017 at 9:28 AM ^

arrogance and entitlement."  Give me a break.  There are real actual factors that play into our record against underdogs.  I am stating what I believe to be one of them. 

Or I guess you could just with "there are no reasons except for that we suck and aren't good at anything ever!! Unacceptable!!!!  Player have no heart!!  We are basically Maryland!"  Yeah, that is the move.


November 20th, 2017 at 3:37 PM ^

I would say it is more the homerism and blind optimism of Michigan fans and the number of them that are out there and betting on games.  If this is underdog as determined by point spread, the fact that people tend to irrationally bet on Michigan may be why we lose so much as the "underdog", i.e. there may be games where we are -1  to -4 that we should actually be +1 to +4.  We win those games as a "favorite" but should have actually been an underdog

I am not asking the OP to do this since this is already great info but it would be interesting to see records by banded point spreads (+1 to +4, +5 to +10, +11 to +15, etc.).

Maybe this statistic is indirect (or direct) evidence that you should always adjust spreads for the irrationality of Michigan fans when wagering on the team


Sorry - should have added seeing records on the other side as well (-1 to -4, -5 to -10, etc.)


November 20th, 2017 at 2:43 PM ^

We all kinda knew this. It is very strange. Our results in close games vs good teams/rivals and this just all show a tortured fan base. Someday itll change. God bless Harbaugh for trying. At least for now my hope is for him laying groundwork where even bad luck can derail us from at least being solid. If 4 losses is our floor from now on and 1 loss playoff birth is our ceiling maybe we need to set our expectations accordingly.


November 20th, 2017 at 2:45 PM ^

we're in a perpetual state of defeatism it seems like. When we're the better team, we seem so often to play down to people. When we're the worse team, we never, ever have one of those miraculous game where we play above ourselves and pull out a huge victory

The last time that happened was the almost Borges-Gardner miracle in 2013(?) and beyond that I can't think of another time where a clearly inferior Michigan team gave a better team all they could handle. Much less pulling off a huge upset. It seems like it's just part of this program's identity to be this way


November 20th, 2017 at 3:23 PM ^

Nobody realizes how bad we actually are until the game is over. Then we reset back to the same thinking again and again. Until we change these perceptions with actual Ws this will probably repeat itself.

Case in point we should be 3 td dogs this weekend. This looks like more of a mismatch then the PSU game. Dont give me the “anything can happen” crap our best case scenario is bad weather and a close moral victory. Right now you can see why that record is off. Perception is skewed for us and MSU (last year being the exception) MSU in that time frame was a much better program but probably looked at as slightly inferior.


November 20th, 2017 at 2:53 PM ^

On the chart... Surely they've been a dog a few times since 2012, right?

Edit* they're 6-1 as dogs going back to 2012. They're 17-13 going back to 01. Fuck those guys

Guy Fawkes

November 20th, 2017 at 4:10 PM ^

The thing about OSU I've generally noticed is that when their backs are against the wall, they come out on FIRE. They're hyped up, focused, emotional, they execute. Their coaches really sell the "everyone thinks you suck". That's when you see a team beat a team that they arent supposed to. Michigan has looked frickin shell shocked in some of these losses. 


November 20th, 2017 at 5:29 PM ^


The crazy thing about that OSU stat is the fact that when they are underdogs, it's typically to another major blue blood team. Meaning, these are marquee games that they show up to and - more often than not - win. Those are the games that are on national television, with recruits and prospects on the sidelines, and they show up and deliver.

Does that mean they are perfect, no. They've obviously had some major embarressments on the national stage too. But that's kind of the difference. OSU's losses are embarressments on a national stage because they are losing to good teams (save Iowa this year, which - man - I don't know how to explain that one!). But they are winning those games too.

We are just losnig those games...


November 20th, 2017 at 2:54 PM ^

Could it have something to do with the fact that, most of the time, we've been pretty good?  We're usually only underdogs against the Ohio States and Alabamas of the world.  Rutgers gets to be an underdog against Illinois and Purdue, and get wins sometimes.


The meme always used to be that Michigan's All-Time record on games featured on ESPN Classic was abysmal.  And this is back when Lloyd Carr was the coach.  Recent years have not improved the trend.