By the Numbers: Week 4 vs. Wisconsin

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LAST WEEK RECAP

The Wolverines fell flat against Indiana, losing 38-21 in Bloomington.   The loss increased considerable hot seat conversations for multiple Michigan coaches.

NEXT UP: vs. Wisconsin: 4th, 25.7

PREGAME SP+: Wisconsin by 9.8, Michigan Win Probability 29%
As a predictive system, the SP+ numbers are really handcuffed by Wisconsin.  They have only played one game, and could be missing numerous players to COVID protocol.  However, given Michigan’s struggles, the projected margin has increased by about two points since the Big Ten preseason.

Michigan Offense (30th) vs. Wisconsin Defense (2nd) 
The first question of many for the Wolverines: who are the healthiest offensive lineman?  Michigan has struggled desperately to find success in the run game in their two losses.  Even if they had the week one offensive line, the yards would be tough to come by against the Badgers’ defensive front.  Strategically, I’m still looking for Josh Gattis to utilize his skill guys to put edge defenders into conflict.  If those types of plays bring the defensive backs up into press, we need to see the fastest WRs like Roman Wilson stretch the field vertically.

Michigan Defense (19th) vs. Wisconsin Offense (12th)
This matchup is a total wild card.  Michigan is limping through key injuries up front to Aidan Hutchinson and possibly to Kwity Paye.  Missing key pass rushers does not bode well for a team trying to support struggling cover corner guys.  At the same time, Wisconsin will either have their fourth-string quarterback under center, or a QB returning from foot surgery (Jack Coan), or a redshirt freshman returning from COVID isolation (Graham Mertz).  With so much unknown in this matchup, I expect Don Brown to double down on his aggressive philosophy.  That means blitzers from all directions, and could be another challenge to some young CBs trying to make a name for themselves like freshman Andre Seldon.

PREDICTION: Sometimes the different metric systems like SP+ cannot “see” the important mitigating factors from week to week.  This game between struggling Michigan, and virus-depleted Wisconsin seems like it is wholly made up of unknown mitigating factors.  Amidst all that chaos, I am expecting that the more experienced and higher-ranked defense for the Badgers will be the greatest difference.  The Wolverines will need to find some big plays, maybe on special teams, to upset the Badgers.
Michigan 20 Wisconsin 37 (PRESEASON Michigan 17 Wisconsin 23)

MICHIGAN RESUME UPDATE (11/10/2020), 1-2

SP+ Overall: 18th (↓2), 14.0
SP+ Offense: 30th (↓1), 34.0
SP+ Defense: 19th (↓6), 19.9
SP+ Special Teams: 104th (↓27), -0.2

AP Poll: NR (23rd), 0

Coaches’ Poll: NR (25th), 0

CFP Rank: N/A

About Clint Derringer

@clint_derringer Born & raised in Warren, MI. Now in Grosse Pointe, MI with my wife Bethany and our three hilarious kids. U-M B.A. Sport Management & Communications ‘05 U-M M.S. Program & Project Management ‘18