After eleven weeks of play, the No. 4 Michigan football team has a nasty defense, steady and bullying offense and plenty to feel good about as it sits at 9-1 and in control of its own destiny for the Big Ten title and College Football Playoff. Like every week, The Michigan Insider on 247Sports break down where the Wolverines rank among 130 teams nationally in 30 key categories to gauge what the Wolverines do well, what they don’t and what’s worth keeping an eye on moving forward.
Points per game — 20th (37.2)
Points per game allowed — third (12.9)
Total yards per game — 54th (421.9)
Total yards per game allowed — first (219.8)
Yards per play — 29th (6.27)
Yards per play allowed — first (3.82)
AP Poll — fourth
ESPN FPI — fourth
Football Outsiders’ S&P — fourth
Strength of schedule so far (Sagarin) — 36th
Notes: Michigan’s 42-7 win at Rutgers did very little to change the Wolverines’ overall outlook, though it did drop their strength of schedule from 18th to 36th. The Wolverines have now allowed just seven points in each of their last three games, while scoring a combined 103 points in those three games. Michigan could look at its overall offensive output as a weakness compared to other teams, but as we outline below, there are some stylistic benefits to the Wolverines’ approach.
Passing yards per game — 87th (206.5)
Passing yards per attempt — 20th (8.5)
Passer rating — 15th (159.5)
Rushing yards per game — 31st (215.4)
Rushing yards per attempt — 29th (5.04)
Tackles for loss allowed — 19th (4.70 per game)
Sacks allowed — 31st (1.50 per game)
Notes: Michigan has yet to open up its passing game, but Shea Patterson’s efficiency has him closing on All-Big Ten status. His passer rating of 160.3 ranks 14th nationally, and only Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama), Kyler Murray (Oklahoma) and Sam Ehlinger (Texas) have better touchdown-to-interception ratios among qualified power-conference quarterbacks (Patterson’s is 17:3). I do think you could nit-pick the Wolverines’ so-so rushing effort (193 yards, 4.8 yards per carry) against a putrid Rutgers run defense, but I imagine every Michigan fan reading this would have gladly taken a line that ranks in the top 40 in sacks and tackles for loss allowed.
Passing yards per game allowed — first (116.0)
Passing yards per attempt allowed — first (4.8)
Passer rating allowed — first (87.6)
Rushing yards per game allowed — 13th (103.8)
Rushing yards per attempt allowed — 10th (3.11)
Tackles for loss per game — 28th (7.1 per game)
Sacks per game — 16th (2.9 per game)
Notes: Not much has changed here, where Michigan’s pass defense is almost certainly the best in the country for the third straight season. The Wolverines did give up a good chuck of yards (193 on 5.8 yards per carry) on the ground to the Scarlet Knights including their longest play allowed of the season (80 yards) by more than 30 yards. But in reality, anything negative taken away from a 35-point road blowout likely isn’t actually that big of a deal.
Third-down offense — fourth (50.3 percent)
Third-down defense — ninth (28.2 percent)
Red-zone touchdown rate — 40th (66.7 percent)
Red-zone touchdown rate allowed — 119th (75.0 percent)
Special teams efficiency (FEI) — fourth (0.27 adjusted net points per possession)
Penalty yards per game — 106th (68.7 yards per game)
Turnover margin — 15th (0.70 per game)
Time of possession — fourth (34:37)
Notes: While this series has made note of Michigan’s ability to put together long drives, convert on third downs and make plays on defense and special teams, it’s time we give the Wolverines’ offense its due in regards to turnovers. Michigan has only turned the ball over seven times in 10 games this season while forcing 14 turnovers. Fourteen forced isn’t anything that amazing, but seven giveaways ranks third nationally and first among power-conference teams. The program record for fewest turnovers is 11 set in 1988, suggesting that the current Michigan team is elite at hanging onto the football.
So once again, the current Wolverines team looks very much like a title contender both on the field and on paper.