Michigan ranked 8th in way too early statistical projections

Submitted by kmedved on February 3rd, 2012 at 4:47 PM

Bill Connelly, of Football Outsiders and SB Nation, has put together preliminary 2012 season rankings of every team. They incorporate last year's ratings, how many starters are returning, and recruiting rankings to guess how other gaps will be filled.

The F+ rankings last year were pretty kind to Michigan overall, rating the team 12th overall. Because of a high number of projected returning starters (16), and a solid recruiting haul the last two years, that ranking is up to 8th.

Unfortunately, Alabama remains #1 with a button.

Other Michigan opponents:

Air Force: 112th

UMass: Unranked

Notre Dame: 12th

Purdue: 67th

Illinois: 56th

MSU: 17th

Nebraska: 18th

Minnesota: 87th

Northwestern: 73rd

Iowa: 50th

Ohio: 16th


Obviously this is all subject to change, and much too early, but an interesting first look at how things look from a purely statistical point of view.



February 3rd, 2012 at 4:51 PM ^

Wow, I can't believe AFA is slated that low; they're not a powerhouse program by any means, but they've been decent to pretty good in the MWC the past few years. At 112 I'd bet that projects to last place in the Mountain West.


February 3rd, 2012 at 6:54 PM ^

It's the returning starters. They're bringing back 7 guys. Only one team brings back less (Boise). They're not just returning relatively few guys - they're returning basically half what a normal team returns.

It's the same reason Boise, which F+ normally loves, has dropped from 4th to 60th. That much turnover is crazy.


February 3rd, 2012 at 8:10 PM ^

I wouldn't put too much stock in that number for Air Force. Since they have a JV team, their replacements always have at least some experience. Plus their system is unique and allows them to overcome not having a tremendous amount of experience. Air Force might not be good, but they're not going to be 112th in the country next year.


February 4th, 2012 at 2:46 AM ^

There are no such thing as "football scholarships" at service academies.  Everyone gets a full ride no matter what so the recruiting rankings are very skewed in that department.  And yes, as you said, the prep school has a lot of talented kids on it that have had a full year of basically red-shirt that no one knows about.


February 3rd, 2012 at 4:51 PM ^

I stopped believing this once I saw that Notre Dame was ranked 12th. What intelligent and informed person would put that kind of faith in ol' Purple Face?


February 3rd, 2012 at 6:49 PM ^

Yeah. The implosion at Penn State is kind of screwing us as far as the balance of power in the divisions goes. We deal with Neb and MSU, which is pretty strong right now. Ohio only really has to worry about Wisco.


February 3rd, 2012 at 5:20 PM ^

MSU was an excellent team last year. They ranked 10th in F+, which was basically the same as their AP/USA Today/BCS ranking. They're bringing back 14 starters, and an OK recruiting ranking. What's wrong with dropping them to 17? Are they really clearly not a top 25 team? I don't see it.

Notre Dame looks stranger at 12 since they went 8-5, but that's just because F+ liked them a lot last year too. The Irish look very good on all the advanced metrics, because of a strong point differential, a tough schedule, and because of a statistical bias in favor of assuming fumble recoveries will equalize next year. I'm not sure they're wrong either. We were all comforting ourselves with Michigan eventually regressing to the mean in terms of turnovers. I think expecting Notre Dame to do the same sadly isn't crazy.



February 3rd, 2012 at 6:12 PM ^

Add to that a very high number of returning starters (18 - among the highest in all of college football), and a very high recruiting grade (5th), and that's a pretty strong recipe for success.

How did a 7-5 Michigan team go to 11-2? Mattison was a big part, but a ton of returning starters was a huge part too.


February 3rd, 2012 at 5:42 PM ^

Bama will obviously go into this game as more than a moderate favorite, but I'm deathly afraid of Michigan in that game. Coach Hoke and Mattison, seem to always have their team prepared, and Mattison has a lot of experience is game planning against the SEC. I think it all depends on the progression Denard Robinson makes this off season. A lot of the things he gets away with against lesser competition, won't fly against an athletic defense like Bama's. That being said, that kid seems to just find a way to win, I'm a big fan of his. I'm interested in how our offense is going to look with a new offensive coordinator, so that could make a lot of things interesting. By the way, that Ondre Pipkins, he's a monster. I was hoping so badly Bama could get him on campus, but that pull of Michigan was too strong. 


February 3rd, 2012 at 7:12 PM ^

I think you are dead on in your analysis, but that it is a two-pronged development.  Denard is learning Al's offense (which he says takes about 18 months to fully pick up, coinciding nicely with the game in Dallas) and Al is learning how to use a guy like Denard for the first time.  It seemed like we had found a nice fusion thanks to Al's adaptation toward the end of the year against Illinois (31 in high winds, despite red zone struggles and Denard leaving due to injury), Nebraska (45) and Ohio (40).  The Sugar Bowl was a big step back but I definitely think we could see Denard make the same kind of leap he made as a sophomore when he went from a guy throwing more picks than completions to a guy who finished 6th in the Heisman balloting.

On the flip side, I think the question for you guys is "What is the ceiling on AJ?"  Is he just a serviceable Greg McElroy type or can he really flourish as an upperclassman and give you guys a multi-dimensional offense?

Victor Hale II

February 4th, 2012 at 6:32 AM ^

I wonder just how much of a favorite Bama will be? 


To me, there is something extra special about this game beyond the fact that it's the opener, at Jerry's place, national TV, 2 of the most storied programs, etc.  I really think that THIS game, more than any last year, or any other in 2012, is the best measurement of UM being "back" (much as I dislike that whole notion).  


Even if the Tide wins, a strong showing by UM will mean a lot to those of us who suffered through the RR blowout losses against any team that was halfway decent.  No, I don't believe in moral victories, but considering our last outing on the big stage against an SEC team, keeping it close with Saban's boys this coming fall will impress me a lot.



Perkis-Size Me

February 3rd, 2012 at 9:01 PM ^

in my opinion we're ranked too high, and i still feel like we need to prove ourselves. we definitely deserve to be ranked, but i'll reserve my judgment on where michigan stands post-alabama.