On Monday, Michigan finally exorcised its College Football Playoff demons by defeating Alabama in the Rose Bowl by a final score of 27-20. The win sets up what should be another excellent game in the National Championship against Washington. Despite the big win though, the Wolverines fell out of favor in the latest edition of ESPN and Bill Connelly’s SP+ rankings.
For those of you who haven’t followed along this season and might be new to SP+, Connelly describes SP+ as, “a tempo- and opponent-adjusted measure of college football efficiency.” The metric takes into account a team’s efficiencies on offense, defense, and special teams and can be used as an alternative form of ranking college football teams by predicting how many points a given team will beat (or lose to) the “average” college football team by.
For example, Michigan’s rating following the Rose Bowl comes in at 31.0, meaning the Wolverines should defeat an “average” college football team by 31 points on a neutral field.
Following the College Football Playoff semifinals and bowl season, an updated ranking was released, this time with the Georgia Bulldogs as the nation’s No. 1 team. The Wolverines slipped to the No. 2 spot after being the No. 1 team since Week 4.
On the bright side, when looking at the individual efficiency metrics, Michigan’s defense held onto its status as the best in the nation according to SP+. No real surprise given its performance against Alabama. However, the offense dropped from No. 10 to No. 12, while the special teams dropped from No. 4 to No. 7.
Looking ahead to the National Championship, Michigan still holds a sizable advantage over Washington. The Huskies checked in at No. 12 in the rankings despite a flawless 14-0 record and impressive resume. Washington holds a rating of 18.8, suggesting that Michigan should win comfortably on a neutral field in Houston on Monday.