Michigan State is ranked No. 10, and Michigan No. 11 in ESPN’s first Football Power Index preseason rankings.
Seth Walder of ESPN’s analytics released the FPI on Wednesday. The FPI is a predictive rating system for college football teams and considers the team’s performance over the past four seasons, returning starters on offense, defense and quarterback, whether the team has a returning head coach and recruiting rankings the past four seasons.
The FPI predicts team strength. Clemson, Alabama and Georgia are the top three teams in the FPI
Walder wrote on ESPN.com he likes how Michigan State bounced back last season after a 3-9 record in 2016, and a big plus is the return of 19 starters, including quarterback Brian Lewerke.
Of Michigan, Walder wrote: “Over in Ann Arbor, the heat is starting to turn up on Jim Harbaugh, though FPI thinks the fourth-year head coach's team is looking better. The good news for Michigan: This rating does not include the possibility of Shea Patterson playing this season for the Wolverines (Patterson's eligibility is uncertain), though the model will not upgrade its rating if the former Ole Miss quarterback can play because the Wolverines already are returning a starter in Brandon Peters.”
Michigan has a challenging schedule this season and will face five teams that are among the top 12 in the preseason FPI — Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State and Wisconsin. The Wolverines face Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State on the road.