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Daily Brews: Michigan opens Wisconsin week as rare underdog in Harbaugh era

The latest with the Michigan Wolverines and college sports world for Sept. 16.

Michigan v Wisconsin Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Michigan football is in rare territory heading into its Week 4 matchup with the Wisconsin Badgers, as they open up as three-point underdogs for Saturday’s trip to Camp Randall Stadium.

As our old pal Drew Hallett points out, this will be only the seventh time under Jim Harbaugh that the Wolverines are an underdog for a game. The previous six did not go so well.

This has not only been a Harbaugh-era problem, as Michigan’s struggles to win the big ones has been a concern for the better part of over a decade now. To say that this has the potential to be a narrative-defining week would be an absolute understatement.

Saturday may not be a “must win” in the sense of the Big Ten title, but it feels like if they do lose Saturday, more may be on the way and the margin for error is zapped. Seeing as both teams have had two very different 2-0 starts to the season, this one could go either way.

Latest S&P+ rankings out

Speaking of Saturday’s matchup, Bill Connelly of ESPN put out his latest batch of S&P+ rankings with the Badgers coming in at No. 7, while Michigan has dropped to 16th on the list.

What does that mean exactly?

“What is SP+? In a single sentence, it’s a tempo- and opponent-adjusted measure of college football efficiency. I created the system at Football Outsiders in 2008, and as my experience with both college football and its stats has grown, I have made quite a few tweaks to the system.

SP+ is intended to be predictive and forward-facing. That is important to remember. It is not a résumé ranking that gives credit for big wins or particularly brave scheduling -- no good predictive system is. It is simply a measure of the most sustainable and predictable aspects of football. If you’re lucky or unimpressive in a win, your rating will probably fall. If you’re strong and unlucky in a loss, it will probably rise.”

In layman’s terms, Connelly’s model says that the football that Wisconsin is currently playing is more sustainable than the skin-of-your-teeth football the Wolverines have. But numbers are just numbers and Michigan can throw it off on Saturday.

Urban Meyer addresses state of Michigan offense

Another week, another take from the former Ohio State coach on the Michigan offense, whether you want to hear it or not.

Meyer’s concerns mirror those of the fans with the “Speed in Space” system not doing a good enough job getting the ball to its playmakers, but that all is not lost.

“We said this in the preseason that when you change offenses and from my understanding when you watch them it’s a drastic change – it’s takes a moment to get going,” Meyer said Friday on The Colin Cowherd show. “Yeah it’s been very disappointing and Shea Patterson the one fumble was inexcusable. Don’t give up on this offense, in Donovan Peoples-Jones gets back that’s a big time weapon.

We will have to wait and see how it looks after a bye week and if some of those critical mistakes have been cleaned up.

National Brews