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Thursday Morning Brews: Black and blue

This morning we take a look at the new S&P+ rankings, and how Michigan compares to Cincinnati

Florida v Michigan Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Happy Thursday, folks. We’re just a short while away from Michigan’s home opener against Cincinnati. As things stand right now, it looks like Ann Arbor will have perfect late Summer weather for the game - so if you’re attending, enjoy it. In this morning’s Brews we take a look at the new S&P+ rankings that were released yesterday. We also bring you news of a Wolverine great adding another honor to his illustrious collection of athletics accomplishments.

As usual, there is a musical theme to this morning’s Brews. There are at least four clues that reference a song. These clues may be words, phrases, or photos and may reference song lyrics, the band, or the album. When taken in concert (yes, that was intentional) they will reveal the song.

Let’s get to it:

Florida v Michigan Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Going statistically deep on Cincinnati, the S&P+ after week one

Getting a handle of something as unpredictable as college sports can be rather difficult. After all, we’re only ordinary (wo)men. Sometimes the “eye” test just fails us. To compensate for this, we often turn to statistics. Some statistics are better than others, and there has been a trend over the past several years towards “advanced” statistics - many of which are really predictive models. For the uninitiated, the inner workings of these model may seem as inaccessible as the dark side of the moon. The final products, however, should be more recognizable to the average fan.

As I mentioned two weeks ago, the S&P+ is one of our favorite statistical systems here at MnB. The system seeks to quantify football teams more holistically than other non-traditional predictive models, like ESPN’s FPI. The S&P+ aims to account for every play during non-garbage time in a football game. The result of this exercise is the production of offensive and defensive variables for each FBS team, which may then be used to predict the outcomes of future games (additional variables factor in, but, unless the predicted outcome is very close, they typically fine tune the predicted margin and don’t alter the outcome).

The updated S&P+ rankings were released yesterday afternoon and... not too much changed. Michigan improved one spot to no. 9, with the offense being ranked 45th and the defense being ranked second. The preseason projection had Michigan ranked 40th and 5th, respectively, for offense and defense. Limited movement in the rankings is to be expected this early in the season because, at this point, the rankings are still mostly comprised of preseason modeling (prediction); and so the data from Week 1 is but a small part of the broader picture (roughly 10%). As more games are played, more data can be introduced, and by Week 7 the system is entirely built on that season’s data.

With that being said, there were some changes in the rankings that can help illuminate how the team is differing from expectations. According to this week’s revised rankings, Michigan is projected to score 32.9 points and surrender 13.2 points in an average game. The preseason projection had those figures at 33.7 and 13.6, respectively. This indicates that the offense performed slightly worse than expected in week one (the offensive variable, which is really an adjusted scoring figure, decreased by 0.8). On defense, the Wolverines appear to be a little better than expected (the defensive variable, indicating what teams may expect to score against Michigan on average, decreased by 0.4).

To preview Saturday’s matchup against Cincinnati, the Bearcats find themselves ranked no. 73, with their offense ranked 97th and their defense ranked 39th. Cincinnati’s offensive and defensive values are 25.4 and 25.8, meaning that—in an average game—they are expected to surrender slightly more points than they score. Based on these numbers, it’s not hard to see why Vegas has Michigan as a 34.5 point favorite - give or take a point, depending on which sportsbook you look at. As Trevor said yesterday, expect Michigan to dominate in all phases of the game.

We’ll have a more in-depth preview of the matchup against Cincinnati tomorrow morning, but in the meantime, how do you see Michigan performing against the Bearcats this weekend? Weigh in with the poll below and down in the comments.


How will Michigan fare against Cincinnati?

This poll is closed

  • 64%
    Cover the spread/win by 35+
    (574 votes)
  • 32%
    Win big, but won’t cover the spread
    (291 votes)
  • 1%
    Stumble, but come out on top
    (16 votes)
  • 0%
    Require last-second heroics to win
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Shocking loss
    (6 votes)
890 votes total Vote Now

Charles Woodson will be joining prestigious company when he’s inducted into the Michigan Athletics Hall of Honor this coming Spring. Woodson is one of seven inductees for this year’s class, announced on Tuesday. According to the University, “Criteria for consideration include being an NCAA champion or member of a national championship team, an All-American, Olympic medalist, Olympic team member, professional league champion or world championship team medalist/member, NCAA or conference player of the year, conference champion, record holder or all-conference award winner.” Woodson, of course, won the 1997 Heisman Trophy and was a member of Michigan’s 1997 National Championship team, in addition to being a two-time All-American, nine-time Pro Bowl selection, and Super Bowl Champion, among other accomplishments. Leaders and Best, indeed.