Happy Thursday, folks. Welcome to Morning Brews. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been driving like a demon waiting for September 2nd to roll around. We’re heading into the final weekend before Michigan Football begins, and thankfully there are a couple games to tide us over. None of them are of any consequence for Michigan or the Big Ten, but I’ll be watching Oregon State/Colorado State and the Stanford/Rice game this Saturday. Not exactly marquee matchups, but hey - it’s college football.
This morning I talk about a couple things you should take with a grain of salt, preseason rankings and way-too-early bowl projections. Both are more art than science before the first game is played, but they can be fun to look at and contemplate what could be. Also this morning we check in with Sophomore Ben Bredeson, who will be holding down the left side of the offensive line with Mason Cole.
We also have a musical theme to this morning’s Brews. I’ll give a little hint by saying this is a pretty deep cut for an otherwise well known musician. There are four clues this morning. Fire away down in the comments.
Let’s get to it:
Preseason S&P Rankings and Bowl Projections, Because I like Throwing Darts
One of the great questions for fans as the football season approaches is “how good, really, is my team?” Without a game being played, the answers are mostly left to conjecture. There’s inherently vast amounts of uncertainty. How will young players develop? Will the team be maligned by injuries to key contributors? How will opposing teams fare? Some people rely on the “eye” test, while others rely on statistics - whether they be the FPI or any number of the others. We here at Maize n Brew like to rely on the S&P+ system to project both seasons and individual games.
Bill Connelly is one of the best college football gurus out there. He’s the guy behind the S&P+ Rankings, a statistical undertaking where he attempts to completely (or as completely as possible) account for the factors that go into winning a football game. His system produces an offensive ranking and a defensive ranking, which can then be used to predict outcomes and margins for games (there are also values for special teams and luck, but I’m trying to keep it as simple as possible). Bill’s system is the closest thing to a holistic statistical approach out there. He seeks to account for every play during non-garbage time in a football game. He attempts to quantify each play, the result, the situation, and then to project future performance from it.
About a month ago, Connelly released his season preview for Michigan; setting forth what his model suggests is reasonable to expect from the Wolverines this year. The top-line figures include a 9-3 record (8.9 projected wins), with the losses likely coming against Penn State (41% win probability), Wisconsin (47% win prob.), and Ohio State (42% win prob.). The Florida game (pre-suspensions) was projected to be a 2 point win for the Wolverines (55% win prob.). Connelly projects offensive and defensive ranks of 40 and 4, respectively, which is rather similar to last year’s final rankings of 41 and 2 despite all the roster turnover.
So what does all of that mean? It depends on how much faith you have in Connelly’s system. At this point, before any games have even been played, it really is a matter of faith. Personally, I think the S&P is shorting us two wins - Wisconsin and Ohio State. I think this young team builds off of a hardfought win in Dallas and surprises the CFB prognosticators out there. It’s hard for the S&P+, or any ranking/projection system, to model development because there are just so many variables.
Moving from one gray area to another, since we have pre-season AP and Coaches polls, we might as well have pre-season bowl projections, too. The SBNation CFB site recently released their way-too-early projection which has Michigan slated for the Outback Bowl against Auburn. Ahead of the Wolverines, they have Ohio State in the playoff, Penn State in the Orange Bowl against Clemson, and Wisconsin against Washington in the Fiesta Bowl. Other B1G teams included in the list are Northwestern, Nebraska, Indiana, Minnesota and Iowa. Slotting Michigan into the Outback bowl implies a third place finish in the B1G East (OSU, PSU, Michigan), with Wisconsin winning the B1G West and losing to OSU in the B1G Championship game.
Where do you think Michigan will finish the season? Will this young team shock the (college football) world? Or will this be a rebuilding year? If 9-3 can even be considered a rebuilding year for a P5 team... Weigh in with the poll below and down in the comments.
What will Michigan’s regular season record be?
This poll is closed
Starting as a Freshman for Michigan is the sort of stuff from where dreams are woven, and Ben Bredeson realized that dream. While he didn’t have a starting spot at the beginning of the season, Bredeson worked his way into starting the final eight games of last year. This year, he retakes his spot as a (relatively) seasoned veteran - next to Senior Mason Cole. The Bredeson/Cole combo will be key this year if Michigan hopes to have an effective running game. For more on Bredeson and his development, check out the video above.
With the season fast approaching, I’m going to close Brews with a little motivation to help get us through this final weekend before Michigan Football returns. Enjoy the clip above, and Go Blue.