We’re breaking down the biggest movers in our top 25 and revealing our model’s Week 11 college football predictions for the biggest matchups.
Michigan at Penn State
It seems as though the Wolverines are having to sweat out their current NCAA investigation more than they have any of their victories.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh was hit with a three-game ban by the Big Ten on Friday as a result of the sign-stealing allegations against his program earlier this college football season. The Wolverines are fighting the ban, though for now, Harbaugh is allowed at practices and other activities but cannot be “present at the game venue.”
“Like all members of the Big Ten Conference, we are entitled to a fair, deliberate and thoughtful process to determine the full set of facts before a judgment is rendered,” Michigan President Santa Ono said in a statement. “Today’s action by Commissioner Tony Petitti disregards the conference’s own handbook, violates basic tenets of due process, and sets an untenable precedent of assessing penalties before an investigation has been completed.”
Through the investigation, the team continued to roll and is now 9-0 record with an average margin of victory of 34.0 points – the largest in the nation. The Wolverines are averaging 40.7 points while allowing only 6.7 during their dominant run to the top of our TRACR rankings.
Oregon (+31.4), Penn State (+28.3), SMU (+24.1) and Georgia (+23.9) have the next largest average point differentials in the FBS.
TRACR (Team Rating Adjusted for Conference and Roster) is a net efficiency metric that evaluates how well a team performs based on who it plays. The model, which is trained on over 10 years of data, is based on an EPA (expected points added) calculation weighed by who teams play.
Michigan’s point differential is also the seventh largest in a FBS season over the past 15 years. Harbaugh’s squad is also No. 1 in our playoff potential rankings at 99.9, which means it’s a team (between 90-100) that should be considered a favorite for a College Football Playoff spot.
Largest FBS Regular-Season Point Differential (Since 1998)
- 2013 Florida State Seminoles (+42.3)
- 2005 Texas Longhorns (+36.3)
- 2019 Ohio State Buckeyes (+36.2)
- 2019 Clemson Tigers (+35.9)
- 2002 Kansas State Wildcats (+35.1)
- 1998 Kansas State Wildcats (+34.7)
- 2023 Michigan Wolverines (+34.0)
- 2001 Miami (FL) Hurricanes (+33.8)
- 2010 Boise State Broncos (+33.1)
- 2018 Alabama Crimson Tide (+33.1)
Despite playing in the Big Ten, the Wolverines haven’t exactly had the toughest schedule. They beat current three-win teams Indiana and Michigan State by a combined 101-7 and 2-7 Purdue 41-13 last weekend. Overall, their opponents have combined average of 4.1 wins.
Michigan’s opponents on average have a TRACR that’s in the negative, making its schedule so far the easiest among all Power 5 teams.
All that changes Saturday when Michigan (No. 2 in the AP Top 25) travels to Happy Valley to take on Penn State, which is seventh in TRACR and No. 9 in the AP poll. The Nittany Lions have the third-largest point differential in the nation and their only loss was 20-12 at unbeaten Ohio State on Oct. 21.
The Wolverines have won two in a row and six of the last nine meetings, including a 41-17 home win last season. Blake Corum, who has rushed for 16 touchdowns in nine games after scoring three times against the Boilermakers, ran for 166 yards and two TDs in last year’s meeting.
Michigan ranks fourth in offensive TRACR this season (first through the air and 10th on the ground), but it might have a tougher time putting up that many points this time around. Penn State is fifth in defensive TRACR (sixth against the pass and eighth versus the run).
Still, our model gives Michigan an 86.9% chance of coming out of State College with a win.
The Playoff Picture
Our playoff potential rankings have held steady at the top with Michigan (99.9), Oregon Ducks (99.7), Florida State (99.6), Georgia Bulldogs (99.0), Washington Huskies (98.4) and Ohio State (96.6) remaining the top contenders to land a CFP bid.
But the gap between the Buckeyes and the seventh and eighth teams have certainly narrowed. Alabama (8-1) increased its rating from 51.0 all the way up to 77.0 after beating then-No. 13 LSU to stretch its winning streak to seven.
Previously mentioned Penn State (8-1) jumped from 47.9 to 75.4 in playoff potential after it cruised to a 51-15 win at Maryland last weekend. One can imagine what the Nittany Lions’ playoff chances might move to with a big victory over Michigan on Saturday.
Teams with a playoff potential rating between 90-100 should be considered the favorites for the playoff, while those between 80-90 have playoff potential, but would likely need to win out and have one team ahead of them fall. Teams between 61-80 would not be included unless there is a little chaos and those between 40-60 are probably two- or three-loss schools that would not make it barring total chaos (i.e. every team ahead of them somehow losing out).
Of course, only four teams will make it, leaving the others to play in a high-profile but otherwise meaningless bowl game.
Week 11 College Football Predictions
Which teams are the best bets? How do they compare to sportsbooks’ college football picks?
Here are our model’s win probabilities for all the TRACR top 25 college football games:
TRACR No. 1 Michigan 86.9% over No. 7 Penn State
No. 2 Oregon 86.9% over No. 23 USC
No. 3 Georgia 73.9% over No. 16 Ole Miss
No. 4 Washington 86.1% over No. 28 Utah
No. 5 Florida State 83.6% over No. 25 Miami (FL)
No. 6 Ohio State 96.5% over No. 78 Michigan State
No. 8 LSU 70.0% over No. 26 Florida
No. 9 Alabama 80.5% over No. 37 Kentucky
No. 10 Kansas State 95.2% over No. 90 Baylor
No. 11 Oklahoma 81.8% over No. 42 West Virginia
No. 12 SMU 95.5% over No. 96 North Texas
No. 13 Notre Dame is idle
No. 14 Texas 83.8% over No. 47 TCU
No. 15 Oregon State 95.9% over No. 104 Stanford
No. 17 Arizona 88.3% over No. 68 Colorado
No. 18 Louisville 31, No. 88 Virginia 24 (on Thursday)
No. 19 Texas A&M 90.2% over No. 74 Mississippi State
No. 20 Tennessee 65.8% over No. 29 Missouri
No. 21 North Carolina 56.3% over No. 24 Duke
No. 22 UCLA 89.3% over No. 84 Arizona State
On the outside of the top 25 looking in: No. 26 Florida, No. 27 Troy, No. 28 Utah, No. 29 Missouri, No. 30 Clemson, No. 31 Maryland, No. 32 Auburn, No. 33 Rutgers (at Iowa), No. 34 Texas State and No. 35 Wisconsin.
No. 36 Nebraska, No. 37 Kentucky, No. 38 James Madison, No. 39 Air Force and No. 40 Kansas (vs. Texas Tech) round out the TRACR top 40.