After its 78-0 demolition of Rutgers on Saturday night, Michigan moved back into the top two of the updated S&P+ rankings.
The Wolverines are second in this week’s S&P+ rankings, rising one spot and jumping ahead of No. 3 Alabama. Michigan has been a mainstay in the top five of the S&P+, even climbing to No. 1 for one week. However, for the past few weeks, the Wolverines have fluctuated between No. 2 and No. 3, and last night’s beatdown of the Scarlet Knights put them back at No. 2. The rest of the top five consists of No. 1 Ohio State, No. 3 Alabama, No. 4 Clemson, and No. 5 Louisville.
The S&P+ rankings are a college football ratings systems that is derived from play-by-play data, eliminates garbage-time drives, and adjusts for opponents. It is a predictive system that evaluates teams based on their actual quality and projects how they will perform moving forward, rather than ranking teams based on records and resumes. Almost all of the preseason projections baked into this ratings system have been phased out (they will be gone next week), so these have been the best teams in 2016.
Additionally, S&P+, much like the other national statistics, ranks Michigan’s defense as the best in the country. In fact, the margin between Michigan’s defense and the next best defense (Alabama) isn’t even close. The gap between Michigan’s defense and Alabama’s defense (6.9) is greater than the gap between Alabama’s defense and S&P+’s eighth-best defense (LSU). The Wolverines are far ahead of the pack defensively.
After last night, no one should disagree with that.