ESPN FPI updates Michigan football game-by-game predictions after Week 1

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Michigan football came roaring out of the gates in 2021, looking more like the dominant Wolverines team one would expect from the winningest team of all time. But what does that mean in terms of advanced analytics?

The maize and blue moved up 15 spots in ESPN FPI and is now ranked No. 13 in that metric. While the won-loss record is still an anticipated 8-4, the margins for all of them changed. One game that was expected to be a big, obvious loss for Michigan now enters the toss-up category, for instance. Other games that were toss-ups are now very likely wins in the eyes of ESPN.

Take a look at the win expectancy for the Michigan Wolverines now that Week 1 is in the books.

Week 2: Washington

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 04: Giles Jackson #0 of the Washington Huskies is upended by Omar Hicks Onu #0 of the Montana Grizzlies during the second quarter at Husky Stadium on September 04, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Previously: 61.4% Michigan win Now: 82.5% Michigan win Context: This game got a lot easier on paper as the Huskies brought an anemic offense to the season opener and lost to FCS-level Montana. However, Washington still has a lot of talent and a solid defense. Much of what happened this week was due to three turnovers committed, but assuredly, UW will be hungry to get on the winning side of things.

Week 3: Northern Illinois

Northern Illinois quarterback Rocky Lombardi (12), wide receiver Mohamed Toure (9), tight end Liam Soraghan (83) and tight end Miles Joiner (80) celebrate a touchdown by running back Harrison Waylee (30) during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Georgia Tech on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Danny Karnik)

Previously: 92% Michigan win Now: 94.3% Michigan win Context: I’m surprised this one went up even more given that NIU went into Atlanta and upset Georgia Tech in Week 1. Certainly, the other Huskies will be upset-minded when they come to Ann Arbor.

Week 4: Rutgers

Coach Greg Schiano after leading his team in the Rutgers all mater at the end of the game as Rutgers crushed Temple 61-14 in their season opener at SHI Stadium in Piscataway, NJ on September 4, 2021.

Previously: 82.6% Michigan win Now: 79% Michigan win Context: This is the first one to go down in Michigan’s favor, because perhaps Rutgers is better than many people thought given its win over Temple. It may be a more interesting game than many anticipate.

Week 5: at Wisconsin

Photo: Isaiah Hole

Previously: 32.3% Michigan win Now: 46.5% Michigan win Context: After the Badgers lost to Penn State, though that was an evenly-played game, Wisconsin took something of a hit in the ESPN FPI. Now what had been one of Michigan’s more likely losses emerges as a toss-up, though Michigan hasn’t won in Madison since 2001.

Week 6: at Nebraska

Photo: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Previously: 52.5% Michigan win Now: 64.4% Michigan win Context: This one moved up slightly in Michigan’s favor considering the Huskers have a loss on the record. Nebraska did manage to win big against Fordham which shows that maybe Scott Frost’s team does have a pulse.

Week 8: Northwestern

(AP Photo/Tony Ding)

Previously: 63.4% Michigan win Now: 81.3% Michigan win Context: The Wildcats looked discombobulated as they got shellacked by Michigan State in the Friday night opener. This one moves from being a slight Michigan win in the eyes of ESPN FPI to an obvious one.

Week 9: at Michigan State

Photo: Isaiah Hole

Previously: 48.2% Michigan win Now: 43.2% Michigan win Context: Obviously, with the win over Northwestern, MSU is getting a bit more love from the advanced analytics. Which is fair given how sharp the Spartans appeared to be. We’ll see more down the stretch about how much they actually improved year-over-year.

Week 10: Indiana

Photo: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Previously: 57.4% Michigan win Now: 78.5% Michigan win Context: With the Hoosiers getting dominated in the season opener against Iowa, it showed ESPN FPI that IU is not as ready for primetime as many believed. It went from a Michigan lean to a Michigan certainty overnight.

Week 11: at Penn State

Photo: Isaiah Hole

Previously: 28% Michigan win Now: 35.6% Michigan win Context: The Nittany Lions managed to squeak out a 16-10 win on the road at Wisconsin. James Franklin hadn’t had a signature road win yet, and he finally got one against a ranked Badgers team. Yet, Michigan’s chances went up slightly, perhaps because the Wolverines had more explosiveness in their game than the Nittany Lions did in theirs? All the same, it’s still a likely Michigan loss according to ESPN FPI.

Week 12: at Maryland

Sep 1, 2018; Landover, MD, USA; Maryland Terrapins celebrates in the end zone holding a flag in remembrance of Jordan McNair after defeating Texas Longhorns at FedEx Field. Photo: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Previously: 61.4% Michigan win Now: 69.9% Michigan win Context: Maryland went out and beat West Virginia in Week 1, looking impressive in doing so, yet Michigan’s chances increased. To us, this is still a trap game, but for now, the Wolverines have better chances in the eyes of ESPN FPI.

Week 13: Ohio State

Photo: Isaiah Hole

Previously: 18.7% Michigan win Now: 25.8% Michigan win Context: Ohio State won by 14 at Minnesota, in a tougher than expected game. The Buckeyes will assuredly be more complete-looking by the team The Game rolls around, but it appeared as if OSU had some weaknesses. Still, until Michigan proves it can do anything against Ohio State, chances are it’ll continue to be a prohibitive underdog.

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