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Tuesday, November 10, 2015


There were two main questions facing Wolverine Nation after the latest football team rankings were released:

  1. Why didn't UM move up?
  2. Why didn't UM drop down?

The first question is valid, since Michigan won its game, and teams normally rise in the rankings with wins, unless their starting point is so close to the top that it's hard to get a jump if every other team ahead of them wins. That's not the case for a team ranked in the mid-teens, though. Especially since they thrashed their opponent by 30+ points.

To answer, it was a home game against a team they were expected to beat. Michigan State has won games the same way this season and actually dropped in the polls. As for the point-spread, perhaps voters have caught on to the fact that Jim Harbaugh is routinely "running-up-the-score" at every opportunity this season. With those things considered, there was no compelling rationale behind moving UM up in the rankings.

The second question may seem inappropriate, at least until certain FACTS are considered. In this case, the highly-vaunted schedule-strength of the Wolverines must be taking a bit of a hit as the season plays out. Remember those "big wins" against Oregon State and UNLV? Those teams are now a combined 5-13. UM already played Maryland (now 2-7) and after beating Rutgers, the Scarlet Knights were left at 3-6.
Five of the seven wins for UM this year
have come against teams with losing records.

So maybe voters are slowly catching on to the fact that Michigan is playing a cream-puff schedule this year. Here are the teams UM defeated, with their current records:

  • 2-7 Oregon State
  • 3-6 UNLV
  • 7-2 BYU
  • 2-7 Maryland
  • 7-2 Northwestern
  • 4-5 Minnesota
  • 3-6 Rutgers
  • 28-35 combined season record

A glance at the list above shows that the "marquee win" for Michigan may well be its defeat of BYU in September, in a game played at Michigan during what would normally be breakfast-time for a team from the Mountain Time Zone. Since losing in Ann Arbor, BYU has run off five consecutive victories, but not exactly against a gauntlet of power-teams by any measurement. The five-game win-streak for BYU has included victories against these teams:

  • Connecticut
  • Eastern Carolina (BYU won by seven points)
  • Cincinnati
  • Wagner
  • San Jose State (BYU won by one point)

Teams in conferences cannot control their entire schedule, but BYU is an Independent. They chose to schedule Eastern Carolina, San Jose State, and WAGNER. So while BYU is a bowl-bound team, it's an open question what their season would be looking like if they played in a Power-5 Conference.

Michigan needs its vanquished opponents to win more games, and fast, to make their apparently strong season record stand up to scrutiny. They also need the teams who beat them to win out, meaning Utah and Michigan State. That must mean Jim Harbaugh is rooting for Utah, right? And therefore, he's also rooting for MSU, right?

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