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S&P+ Projects Michigan Will Be the Best Big Ten Team in 2016

Even the computers like Michigan to be the Big Ten favorite next season.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan hasn't won a Big Ten championship since 2004. That may change in 2016.

On Monday, SB Nation's Bill Connelly released his S&P+ projections for the 2016 season.  During the season, S&P+ is a college football rating systems that is derived from play-by-play data, adjusts for opponents played, and eliminates garbage-time drives. It's a truer way to evaluate how a team has performed and how it will perform in the future than most models. For offseason projections, though, Connelly uses a simpler process, incorporating a team's returning production, its recent history, and its two-year recruiting rankings. Using this, S&P+ projects Michigan to be the Big Ten's best team:

Big Ten S&P+ Projections for 2016
Overall Rank School Projected S&P+
6 Michigan 19.3
14 Ohio State 16.4
22 Michigan State 13.5
26 Nebraska 11.6
28 Penn State 11.3
37 Wisconsin 8.3
38 Iowa 8.1
42 Minnesota 7.0
46 Northwestern 5.1
56 Indiana 3.9
62 Maryland 2.9
76 Illinois 0.4
87 Rutgers -3.1
88 Purdue -3.1

Michigan is the only Big Ten team in the national top 10 thanks to the large chunk of starters it returns from its 10-3 team one season ago. The Wolverines need to replace a quarterback, a fullback, a center, a defensive tackle, three linebackers, and a free safety. The two biggest question marks will be at quarterback -- hello, John O'Korn -- and linebacker -- hello, Ben Gedeon and ... and ... -- but should have experienced upperclassmen filling in most of these vacancies. On the other hand, both Ohio State and Michigan State find themselves outside the top 10 based on the substantial number of departures each team had. Thus, S&P+ likes Michigan to be the Big Ten favorite in 2016.

However, this doesn't account for Michigan facing Ohio State and Michigan State on the road next year, so Michigan may not be as much of a favorite as these rankings suggest.

Here are the other teams in the top 10 with Michigan:

National S&P+ Projections for 2016
Overall Rank School Projected S&P+
1 Alabama 26.8
2 LSU 24.4
3 Clemson 24.2
4 Oklahoma 22.0
5 Florida State 19.6
6 Michigan 19.3
7 Ole Miss 18.9
8 USC 17.3
9 Tennessee 17.0
10 Washington 17.0