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Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Strength-of-schedule was supposedly a "plus" for Michigan and a "minus" for Michigan State, at least according to Wolverine fans in September. The front-end of Harbaugh Hysteria was bouyed by the belief that his UM team was knocking off one heavyweight after another in the preseason. You know, teams like UNLV and Oregon State.

However, those two teams gave up more than a hundred points combined last weekend, and can only muster five wins between them with a week to go in the season. Not exactly, um, impressive?

But the teams MSU beat in September are now ALL BOWL-ELIGIBLE. Both MAC-teams have six wins, Air Force stands at 8-3, and Oregon has played its way back into the Top 25. Only BYU is (marginally) "relevant" on the Michigan pre-conference schedule.

Many Wolverine fanatics downplayed the early-season relevance of teams that played in a bowl the previous season, claiming it meant nothing for the current season. However, the NCAA is currently studying a shortage of bowl-eligible teams, as there are not enough of them right now to fill up all of the bowl games. So being bowl-eligible is a fundamental marker of success in any football program.

Here's a look at the teams that went down at the hands of Sparty, listed with their current season records, in the order they were played:

  • 6-5 Western Michigan
  • 8-3 Oregon
  • 8-3 Air Force
  • 6-5 Central Michigan
  • 2-9 Purdue
  • 4-7 Rutgers
  • 9-2 Michigan
  • 5-6 Indiana
  • 2-9 Maryland
  • 10-1 Ohio State
  • 60-50 combined season record (55%)

That adds up to six teams with a winning record, with one more pending from the current list, and one yet to be played this weekend. If Indiana wins their season finale', MSU will have played EIGHT BOWL-ELIGIBLE TEAMS this season, including all four from their preseason schedule (the only part that is controlled by the university).

The Sagarin Ratings have listed the UM schedule as tougher than the MSU schedule all season, but not this week. For what it's worth, MSU now has the more difficult schedule-strength according to Sagarin.

The Sagarin formula also ranks the "best victories" of the 2015 season, and the Spartans have achieved four such wins in the Top 50:

  • #2   - MSU over Ohio State, 17-14
  • #7   - MSU over Michigan, 27-23
  • #15 - MSU over Oregon, 31-28
  • #48 - MSU over Air Force, 35-21

Note that Sagarin views the Michigan State victory over UM as a "win", not a "loss" as so many Wolverines want us to believe.

Finally, just for laughs if anything else, Sagarin also ranks the so-called "quality losses", and that list does not show Utah beating Michigan. But it does rank the Nebraska upset over MSU as the "sixth-best loss" of the 2015 season. A Cornhusker upset over Iowa on Friday would likely raise that ranking.


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