ESPN released its preseason FPI rankings (Football Power Index) on Tuesday morning and you can already hear the coaches inside Schembechler Hall printing and hanging the bulletin board material around the facility.
The Michigan Wolverines are ranked No. 6 (21.4 rating) in the poll and have been given a 26% chance to reach the College Football Playoff, and a 4% chance to win the National Championship. Furthermore, the Wolverines are projected to go 10-2 and have been given a 4.3% chance to go undefeated. Here is the ESPN FPI top 10 with percentages for reaching the CFP and winning a title:
- Ohio State (31.5), CFP: 82%, Title: 37%
- Alabama (28.2), CFP: 62%, Title: 20%
- Georgia (27.4), CFP: 63%, Title: 19%
- LSU (22.1), CFP: 24%, Title: 4%
- Texas (21.9), CFP: 34%, Title: 6%
- Michigan (21.4), CFP: 26%, Title: 4%
- USC (19.9), CFP: 25%, Title: 3%
- Clemson (19.4), CFP: 24%, Title: 3%
- Notre Dame (18.4), CFP: 16%, Title: 2%
- Penn State (17.5), CFP: 11%, Title: <1%
Initial takeaways start with the Ohio State Buckeyes, who are well clear of the second-place Alabama Crimson Tide. The gap between 1-2 (3.3 points) is more significant than the gap between 4-8 (2.7 points). The rankings love the Buckeyes, despite the unknown of a new starting quarterback, have given them a 34% chance to go undefeated (11.9% higher than anybody else) and project a finishing record close to 12-1.
However, the greatest gap between two positions resides after the FPI’s established triumvirate at the top of the rankings.
Ohio State, Alabama and Georgia are at the top of the list — albeit in a different order — for the second straight season. The Bulldogs are 5.3 points clear of No. 4 LSU, and all three of the top teams are expected to finish no worse than 11-2.
Moving down the list, it is hilarious how much the computers love Texas. The Longhorns are ranked No. 5 overall and have been given the fourth-best odds to win the title. Texas has only won 10 games once since 2009 and with a road game at Alabama on Sept. 9, questions will quickly be answered regarding the Longhorns.
For the past two seasons, no team ranked inside the top two of the preseason FPI rankings has won the National Championship. Where will Michigan finish?