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Minnesota Football Game Predictions: Michigan Wolverines

Predictions for the Michigan game and the upcoming B1G season for the Minnesota Golden Gophers. And beer!

Jeff Gross

Score another win for M&B over Vegas! Now the real test begins...

Models and Bottles Refreshers!


I suspect everything about this section is going to be a topic of conversation in the comments.

The M&B Top 25, with a new #1!

Rank Team Log5Prob Change
1 Baylor .911 1
2 Florida State .909 -1
3 Auburn .896 0
4 Oregon .890 0
5 LSU .875 0
6 Texas A&M .869 0
7 Oklahoma .861 2
8 Stanford .860 -1
9 USC .855 -1
10 Mississippi State .854 1
11 Mississippi .848 -1
12 Georgia .838 4
13 Notre Dame .837 0
14 UCLA .834 1
15 BYU .832 4
16 Michigan State .827 -2
17 Florida .827 -5
18 Wisconsin .826 -1
19 Oklahoma State .816 1
20 Louisville .811 4
21 Alabama .806 -3
22 Ohio State .802 1
23 Missouri .796 -1
24 Arizona .796 -3
25 TCU .787 0
37 Michigan .716 -10
44 Minnesota .694 -6

We're still dropping, though not as much from a Log5 perspective (pure performance) so many as other teams are surpassing us. Michigan, however, woof.

As for the Battle for the Little Brown Jug:

Gopher Win Probability 47.4%
Predicted Margin of Victory -1
Current Vegas Spread Gophers +12
Current Vegas Over/Under 43

Sportsbooks seem to like Michigan to trounce us, though that could be more about public money flowing into the Wolverines and an overreaction to the 1 pass game. That said, now is as good a time as any to go under the hood of M&B and unveil some of the secret sauce.

A main component of the M&B mathematical model is to adjust the prior probability against the results to date from all previous contests. It's cumulative but biased upward, opposed to a regular or arithmetic average that is biased to outliers on both/either tail. The more consistent your performance as a team is, the less one bad performance will impact your rating. On the flip side, wildly inconsistent teams with large degrees of variation will see a ratings adjustment more like a standard averaging of results.

Through 4 games, here are the game-by-game Log5 probabilities given the final margin:

Week Michigan Minnesota
1 .909 .799
2 .154 .714
3 .697 .243
4 .341 .740
Root Mean Square .603 .662

Michigan has been woefully scatterbrained this season. The revenge-filled drubbing of App State aside, the Wolverines have simply not impressed anyone -- M&B math included. If anything, the Fighting Hokester's are consistent in proving they are neither an elite team nor a very good one. Minnesota, however, has more consistently varied in the 70-80% Log5 range which has the effect of discounting the five turnover performance against TCU.

So what does this mean for Saturday? For starters, we don't know which Michigan team will show up based upon everything that's happened to date. The Wolverines have fairly high potential but haven't played up to it since week one. If they do put everything together and circle the wagons for Hoke, things could get ugly for a one dimensional Gopher team. If the Wolverines play like they have most of the year and Minnesota simply plays their game, this will be close -- very close.

I simply don't know how to feel about it. Shane Morris starting would seem to play into Claeys' hands, since Devin Gardner has been our Kryptonite for the last two seasons with his ability to buy extra time with his legs and look downfield. A less mobile and more turnover prone quarterback does not necessarily bode well against an aggressive secondary and a coordinator that loves to bring pressure from different angles.

If Minnesota wins, I suspect the game will be ugly and look similar to wins at Northwestern and Nebraska from last year.

How does M&B view the upcoming B1G schedule? Pretty, pretty, pretty good.

Gopher B1G Win Simulations (1,000,000 trials)
Mean B1G Wins 4.5
Frequency of 3+ B1G Wins 94.0%
Freq. of 5+ B1G Wins 50.0%
Freq. of 7+ B1G Wins 6.0%

/spit take

Wait, what?

Yes, M&B sees the upcoming slate of games as rather favorable. Iowa, Illinois, Purdue and Northwestern are all rated lower then Minnesota, while the Michigan and Nebraska win probabilities are 45-47% at the moment. In fact, M&B simulations place the frequency of starting the B1G schedule at least 4-1 at 47%, while opening up 5-0 occurs 13% of the time. The latter may seem low but I think most fans would take a one in six chance of starting the B1G 5-0 prior to the season.


Having spent the last several days in Vegas, I've had my fair share of bottles. That's exactly what vacations are for.

When the clock hits 2:30PM CST on Saturday, I'll be sitting comfortably at home on my couch and completely focused on the real season of college football to start. It's time to get serious, since these are the games people care about and will remember for years to come. Let's be honest, does anyone even remember what happened against Eastern Illinois (other than Berkley Edwards and the dick punch) or Western Illinois, Western Michigan or New Mexico State? Chances are, there are a handful of plays that stick out but that's it. We won those games, some more convincingly than others, and whatever grumblings arose from the Twitters have long since faded.

But everyone remembers what happens in the Big Ten. Memories have a way of searing themselves into our consciousness when the games matter that much more.

With that in mind, I can't help but recall the last million contests against the Wolverines -- especially in Ann Arbor -- and how poorly we've played. For whatever reason, this team is our boogeyman; fear manifested as a program we look completely incompetent against most seasons. Aside from a brief tilt around 2003-2005, we've been outscored approximately 1,000,000-20 over the last decade. How and why this happened makes no sense, but college football is weird and sometimes, mystique wins out.

Alas, there are times when the name on the front of the jersey means nothing and teams overcome, much like we did against Nebraska last year. With the 50 year gorilla lifted, the Huskers are no longer a team our program and fans view with trepidation but as another opponent to be respected, but beatable if we play our game. Eventually, we'll get there with the Wolverines -- and hopefully it's this season. The sharks are circling underneath, and each loss throws more chum from the rotting corpse of Schembechler-era Wolverine football into the water.

To that, we raise a bottle of Founders Breakfast Stout with the hopes of a Sunday morning aftermath celebration rather than the all-too-familiar hair of the dog from a stinging defeat.