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Discussion: How does Michigan’s 2022 football team rank amongst other championship-caliber Michigan teams?

Let’s deep dive into some of Michigan’s history to see how this season’s team measures up to some of the greats.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 03 Big 10 Championship - Michigan vs Purdue Photo by Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The No. 2 Michigan Wolverines are on pace to have their best season ever. For years, Michigan has been striving to get back to this level of competing for championships. Now that it’s before us again, I started to question which team was better between 2021 and 2022. Then, I decided to look beyond that. Was this 2022 team better than every other squad in the Jim Harbaugh era? Were they better than the most recent national championship team? Where did they fit amongst the 100+ Michigan teams in the school’s storied history?

Now this can be as subjective or objective as you would like. I am curious on where you think this team stacks up amongst the dozens of teams Michigan has had. For myself, I broke it down to some simple defining aspects. I also limited myself back to the 1997 team, but feel free to share further back.

The first thing to ask is what is a championship-caliber team? Is it based on win-loss records? Perhaps consensus All-Americans or potential Heisman candidates? Does it include strength of schedule or point differential? How far back should we go to compare?

I will use the answers to above questions as metrics of comparison to see how 2022 measures up.

For starters, 2022 has the best simple rating system (SRS) of point differential and strength of schedule of any team in the 21st century. That is derived from the combination of the two in terms of points above/below zero. The 2022 team, despite having the lowest strength of schedule rating since 2009, has the highest SRS since 1997.

Obviously the 1997 team went 12-0 and then won the Rose Bowl to claim a National Championship. They boasted one consensus All-American who was also Michigan’s last Heisman winner, Charles Woodson. Their SRS was 20.14 with a 4.47 strength of schedule. To summarize what most of us know already, this was a dominant team that put up points and gave up little.

It would also help to add the 2021 team, as they earned a CFP berth. For the more modern day teams, this is obviously something that has to be met. But like many of us can argue, there have been teams that were championship-caliber that unfortunately were left out of the playoff. The 2021 team went 12-2 and also boasted two consensus All-Americans and a Heisman candidate. Their SRS was 19.80 with a 6.23 strength of schedule.

For me, the team that kickstarted this modern day dominance in Michigan was the 2016 team. They’re the third-highest team in terms of SRS (17.56) under Harbaugh after finishing 10-3. The team had three consensus All-Americans, the most of any Harbaugh squad. At the time, those three were the first in five years for the Wolverines. For me, I still think about what could have been for this team.

Now 25 years later, Michigan sits at a program best 13-0. Two members of the team, Blake Corum and Olu Oluwatimi, recently earned consensus All-American status. I think we agree that if Corum hadn’t gone down with injury against Illinois, he would’ve been in New York as a Heisman candidate.

To add on, this team is absolutely smothering its opponents the majority of the time. Their SRS currently sits at 21.36. That’s the highest in two decades. To put it another way, this rating is 22nd amongst all Michigan teams. The teams above them are mainly from the 40s and the most recent in the top 20 was from 1985. From a year perspective, it seems that Michigan has finally locked in on its storied success in the modern era.

Is this Michigan football team the best one this century? Where do they rank amongst some of Michigan’s modern day teams? What about the teams from their storied past? Share with us your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!