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)
Ohio State 127.47
Penn State 125.59
Michigan State 124.38
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
Citrus: Ohio State
Outback: Michigan State
Pinstripe: Penn State
Quick Lane: Indiana
Armed Forces: Purdue
No bowl for Northwestern