Friday, October 8 2021

After winning in Wisconsin, 38-17, on Saturday, you wouldn’t expect any predictability of Michigan football’s victory according to ESPN FPI, but here we are. The chances of the Wolverines winning some games have increased, while a few notable games have declined, even as Corn and Blue have moved from ESPN FPI’s seventh team to No. 5 in the country.

Again, FPI is an advanced analytical model looking to the future, and Michigan has gone from a probable 8-4 squad according to ESPN to now an expected loss of 10.1 to 2.2 won in 2021 – which would only mark the third time in Jim Harbaugh’s tenure that the Wolverines would win 10 regular-season games, if that were to happen.

With five games on the books, here’s how ESPN FPI predicts the last seven to play.

Week 6: in Nebraska

(Photo by Steven Branscombe / Getty Images)

Previously: 67.9% win in Michigan
Now: 63.2% win in Michigan

The context

The upcoming opponent has shown increasing tenacity, despite the 3-3 record. While a 63% chance of winning still indicates it’s highly likely, Nebraska’s three losses were just one score. This is a night game in hostile territory, which makes it all the more difficult. Michigan will need to continue to have a full game to come out undefeated.

Week 8: Northwest

Photo: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Previously: 92.9% win in Michigan
Now: 96% win in Michigan

The context

Northwestern established themselves as the worst team in the conference by a wide margin. If Michigan doesn’t easily win this game, something has gone horribly wrong.

Week 9: at Michigan State

Photo: Lansing State Journal

Previously: 54.6% win in Michigan
Now: 57.9% win in Michigan

The context

The Spartans are close to a mirror image of the Wolverines this year, but with two big caveats. First, the pass defense is excruciating. Second, the seemingly good adversaries the state has faced so far have turned out not to be so great. The wins at Northwestern and Miami age badly, but you have to credit MSU for running the business. It will be tough anyway, but Jim Harbaugh has yet to lose to East Lansing as Wolverines head coach.

Week 10: Indiana

Photo: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Previously: 88.0% win in Michigan
Now: 89.3% win in Michigan

The context

Another preseason game that seemed intimidating is once again an obvious victory. Indiana’s offensive is in shambles and its defense has been intermittent. Michigan will be hungry for revenge after last year, which makes the Hoosiers’ luck in Ann Arbor all the more slim.

Week 11: at Penn State

Photo: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Previously: 53.3% win in Michigan
Now: Michigan’s 51.7% win

The context

Penn State continues to roll so the Wolverines have lost some ground. The Nittany Lions continue to appear as a complete team – offense, defense and special teams. It will take an enigmatic performance to come out of Happy Valley with a win, but for now Michigan is still favored.

Week 12: in Maryland

Photo: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Previously: 74.4% win in Michigan
Now: 83.3% Michigan wins

The context

Maryland is still a trap game sandwiched between Penn State and Ohio State, but the Terps have been exposed against a tough team from Iowa, who must lead the analysis to resolve this is the same old man. Maryland that we have seen for years. The 4-0 start now has one in the losing column, and it was a horrific implosion in the same week the Wolverines stood in hostile territory.

Week 13: Ohio State

(AP Photo / Noah K. Murray)

Previously: 53.1% win in Michigan
Now: 48.8% win in Michigan

The context

So clearly, the fact that Michigan beat Ohio State for the first time since 2011 was in large part because the Buckeyes weren’t doing compared to what Michigan was doing. Now that OSU has had a few games streaked together, especially with the rout at Rutgers, the analysis has returned to the southern rival, despite the Wolverines clearing Wisconsin on the road on Saturday.


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