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Michigan lands in top 10 of 2018 S&P+ rankings

Bill Connelly’s S&P+ rankings give the Wolverines the toughest strength of schedule this season.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

In an era of advanced metrics in sports, college football has been no stranger to new statistics. It is no easy feat to reduce teams to one single number, but no system does it better than S&P+.

Created by SB Nation’s Bill Connelly, S&P+ measures team efficiency in terms of adjusted points per game. Instead of looking at raw box score figures, it takes into account strength of opponent, field position, time remaining and other influential factors.

On Friday, Connelly released his latest 2018 projections, with Michigan coming in at No. 10. This is a slight bump ahead of the preseason AP poll (No. 14), cutting out qualitative adjustments such as expectations, hot seats and recent struggles against rivals.

S&P+ computes both an offensive and defensive component, and the individual rankings are not too surprising. Michigan ranks second overall in defense S&P+ behind Clemson, but sits at just 45th in offense S&P+. Of course, with a brand new quarterback at the helm, the Wolverine offense should look completely different this season.

The usual suspects surround Michigan in the rankings — No. 1 Ohio State, No. 7 Penn State, No. 9 Notre Dame, No. 11 Wisconsin and No. 13 Michigan State makes for an absolutely brutal schedule. Correspondingly, no team in the country is slated to have a tougher road this season, as S&P+ ranks Michigan’s schedule as the toughest in the nation.

The projection system gives the Maize and Blue 8.4 wins this season, which is 19th-best overall. This is a reasonable estimate given the schedule, but few fans would be satisfied with a win total this low. A couple big victories could convince the computers of Michigan’s validity, though, and projection models are simply a guess at how good a team truly is.