Phil Steele's thoughts on Michigan, its opponents, and the Big Ten

Steve Deace

Let's not bury the lede here.

If you're a Michigan fan, you're certainly hoping that Phil Steele lives up to his billing as the most accurate college football preview magazine. For he has the Wolverines, whom he ranks as his 7th best offense and defense, finishing No.3 and making the college football playoff for the first time.

But Steele also has plenty to say about Michigan's opponents, as well as the Big Ten.

What set Steele apart from his competitors early on was his trailblazing reliance on analytics as a renowned professional handicapper. Here are some of the more interesting trends Steele sees for this fall:

Teams that lost 34 starts to injury or more and had 9 or fewer wins historically have a 57% chance of winning more games the next season--Illinois, Michigan State, Minnesota, Wisconsin 

Teams with three or more close losses the previous season win the same or more games the next year historically 79% of the time--Nebraska, Rutgers 

Teams with four or more close wins the previous season historically win the same or fewer games the next year 84% of the time--Notre Dame, Ohio State 

81% chance these teams improve on last season's record based on Steele's SOS formula--Nebraska, Indiana

85% chance these teams decline last season's record based on Steele's SOS formula--Ohio State, Wisconsin 

Steele's Big Ten power ratings (the purpose of these is to figure out an accurate point spread, for example he's saying Michigan would be slightly more than a point favorite against Ohio State on a neutral field)

Michigan 128.66

Ohio State 127.47

Penn State 125.59

Michigan State 124.38

Iowa 123.60

Nebraska 121.62

Wisconsin 121.01

Minnesota 120.91

Northwestern 117.64

Purdue 115.68

Indiana 114.91

Maryland 111.17

Illinois 106.23

Rutgers 104.07

Steele's surprise teams--Indiana, Purdue, Nebraska (his number one surprise team, and Steele's track record with his top surprise team is really good),

Steele's bowl projections

Fiesta (playoff): Michigan

Rose: Nebraska

Citrus: Ohio State

Outback: Michigan State

Gator: Wisconsin 

Redbox: Minnesota 

Holiday: Iowa 

Pinstripe: Penn State

Quick Lane: Indiana

Armed Forces: Purdue 

No bowl for Northwestern