How did Michigan end up with a comedic easy schedule for non-conferences, and does it matter?

In college football today, there are many metrics to measure how well a team is. Some may argue very many. There are long-running polls, advanced rating systems, algorithms, efficiency metrics, and many acronyms like the New York Stock Exchange. With matches only coming up once a week, obsessed college football fans fill out their weekdays as they fill in these rankings and rankings, determining if their team is actually in contention for a cup, league title, or national championship.

And no matter what metric you use, Michigan’s non-conference schedule for 2022 is pathetic.

With their season opener against Colorado State, Hawaii, and this week, Connecticut, the Wolverines are playing perhaps the easiest non-conference schedule in the past 100 years. It’s the first time since 1964 that Michigan’s schedule hasn’t included a competition against at least one Power-Five or Notre Dame team, and until that season it featured two encounters against the Army and Navy. If you include the Army and Navy in this query, Michigan’s non-conference schedule for 2022 is the least challenging on paper since 1944, when World War II prompted Wolverine to face Iowa before the trip, Marquette and Benn on the non-conference list. (And technically, the Iowa Pre-Flight, the University of Iowa’s Naval School and playing at Iowa Stadium, finished season 6 in the AP Poll with its only loss to the Wolverines.)

Michigan State hasn’t opened a season so easily from the roster since 1921, when the Mount Union, Case and various Michigan State programs were subjected to a season-opening total of 139 points.

Michigan’s schedule is also, on paper, one of the easiest in the country this season. ESPN’s Football Strength Index ranks the Rams, Rainbow Warriors, and Husky teams as 120, 129, and 125, respectively, out of 131 FBS teams. Sagarin’s rankings, which includes FCS teams, ranks them 134, 162 and 149, suggesting that scheduling two good FCS competitors would have resulted in a tighter schedule. CBS Sports Ratings 1-131 He lists them 111, 123, and 124.

As a result, Michigan table strength is ranked 127 by FPI, 182 by Sagarin and 98 by TeamRankings, which does not include FCS games for teams. And all before adding the Wolverines vs Huskies match.

So far, Michigan plays like a competitor at College Football Playoff opens its season with three of the easiest games you can find. Through two games, the Wolverines have tied the Minnesota with the largest average winning margin (45.0 points) among the Power-Five schools. Michigan’s 90-point difference (107-17) is the sixth largest in school history by two games, and the Wolverines have won their first two games by at least 40 points for the first time since 1921.

If Michigan closes the difference against UConn (47.5 points), it will score the highest scoring margin in three games to open a season since 1947, and only join the 1902 team to win three consecutive games by 40 points or more to open a season. Both teams, of course, won national championships.

But even in the dominant gains, Michigan’s ease of not holding conferences removes some of the wind from Wolverine’s sails. Michigan fans may be wondering if the Wolverines are getting tested or motivated enough ahead of the tougher October-November list. Fans of other teams were not shy about describing the schedule as cowardly, weak, or dismissive of any bragging.

So how did Michigan—which has a very long history of robust non-conference scheduling—end up with one of the easiest schedulers in the country? We reconsider the steps taken to make the Wolverines schedule for 2022, how weak the schedule will be and the impact it has on Michigan.