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Michigan Holds Top Spot in S&P+ Rankings

Alabama’s 10-0 road win at LSU wasn’t enough for the Tide to leap ahead of Michigan in this computer ratings system.

Maryland v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Alabama will continue to be fawned over after its boring, yet well-executed and traditional deconstruction of LSU’s offense in a 10-0 night win in Death Valley. The Tide should remain No. 1 in the human polls released today and CFP rankings on Tuesday.

However, they still cannot grasp that No. 1 spot in the S&P+.

Why? The Wolverines have not let them.

Michigan holds the top position in the newest S&P+ rankings released on Sunday afternoon by SB Nation’s Bill Connelly. This is the fourth straight week and fifth week overall that Michigan has been first in the S&P+ rankings, which is a college football ratings system that is derived from play-by-play data, eliminates garbage-time drives, and adjusts for strength of schedule. Alabama is pushing Michigan from behind in the No. 2 spot, while Louisville, Ohio State, and Clemson round out the top five in that order.

In addition to claiming that Michigan is the nation’s best team, S&P+ makes a compelling case that Michigan has one of the best resumes, too. Not only are the Wolverines only one of four remaining undefeated FBS teams, they have three wins over opponents ranks in the S&P+ top 15. They defeated No. 9 Penn State by 39 points, No. 10 Wisconsin by seven points, and No. 11 Colorado by 17 points. The only other team with three S&P+ top-15 wins is Clemson (No. 3 Louisville, at No. 7 Auburn, and at No. 12 Florida State). Alabama and Ohio State have two such wins, and Louisville has one.

Further, the S&P+ indicates that Michigan is a much more balanced team than originally anticipated. For the first two months of the season, much of the discussion about Michigan has focused on its defense, which remains the nation’s best per S&P+ even if the Tide are closing the gap. However, the Wolverines’ offense has shot up into the top 10 (!!) at No. 8 after Michigan accumulated 59 points and 660 total yards at 10.0 yards per play against Maryland on Saturday. This no longer appears to be a team where the defense has to carry the offense. Both units are able to support the other.

Michigan’s next opponent, Iowa, is 49th in the newest S&P+ list. The Wolverines are expected to be projected as a big favorite over the Hawkeyes, much like Vegas thinks.

And, if Michigan follows through, it will continue to stay ahead of Alabama in the S&P+.