Updated ESPN FPI rankings predict Michigan's remaining games
The Michigan Wolverines did not start the season as expected, and that’s bad news for Jim Harbaugh because his team is squarely in the crosshairs.
Coming into the game ranked No. 14 in the AP Top 25, the Wolverines fell to a very game No. 12 Notre Dame on the road in South Bend.
A loss was not all that surpassing considering the fact that Notre Dame is, in fact, a good team and the Wolverines were playing on the road, but the way in which Michigan lost may have drawn some eyebrows. They came back in the fourth quarter to make it somewhat of a respectable game, but for three-quarters of that game the Fighting Irish absolutely dominated the Wolverines. They made Michigan look unprepared to play football on offense, and simply pedestrian on defense.
This is a defense that many expected to be elite, mind you. It’s also an offensive unit that came into the season with much hype due to Shea Patterson’s transfer from Ole Miss.
No, it wasn’t a good showing for Michigan and the upcoming AP Top 25 will likely reflect that.
With that said, the ESPN Power Football Index actually looks a bit better for the Wolverines. They were ranked No. 11 in the preseason FPI with a 8.4-3.8 win-loss projection, with a 7.2% chance to win the conference. After the Notre Dame loss, Michigan is ranked No. 9 in the FPI with a 8.1-4.0 win-loss projection and a 8.9% chance to win the Big Ten.
What’s the takeaway here? Well, losing to a highly-ranked non-conference team didn’t necessarily hurt the Wolverines in terms of the Big Ten, and that’s really what Harbaugh and the Wolverines need to focus on moving forward.
Four of Michigan’s Big Ten opponents are highly-ranked though — highlighted by a three-game stretch against Wisconsin, Michigan State and Penn State, with OSU, of course, rounding out the season — so there is still a lot of work to do for the often-hyped team in Ann Arbor.
The FPI sees a few more losses, and those aforementioned ranked teams won’t be easy.