I think it’s obvious that Florida played a tougher schedule than Michigan. Still, the comparisons are almost exclusively Apples and Oranges. Michigan played in a conference with 3 of the top 5 teams in the nation. Florida played in a conference with 5 of the best 15 teams in the nation. Better depth – similar top end quality.
Only 1 team has played both Michigan and Florida. Michigan’s first game of the season was at home vs. Vanderbilt. The game was sloppy, but UM was dominant statistically. They won 27-7. Vandy didn’t win often, but they beat Georgia and lost to Florida 25-19. Vanderbilt won one game in the conference. Illinois won one game in the conference and came as close to beating Ohio State as Michigan did. With that said, I don’t believe it means much of anything because football is about matchups, not “transferability.” If it were about transferability, one could infer many things about mediocre teams which we know to be false: like Central Michigan is really the best because of x, y and z.
Florida played five tough teams this year: Tennessee, LSU, Auburn, Georgia and Arkansas. Michigan played three: Notre Dame (looked tough on paper going in as an underdog), Wisconsin and Ohio State. Of course Penn State and Iowa are always tough, but UM is not going to get credit for those W’s. There are no other respectable teams in the Big Ten. Teams like Penn State, Minnesota, Purdue and others will really surprise people if they win their bowl games. These teams are not perceived as quality teams. Still, look at Penn State. They were smoked by ND in the 2nd game of the season. After that, they lost 3 games to opponents with a combined record of 34-2 (OSU, UM and Wis.) I don’t know how Penn State will perform in their bowl game, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they beat a team from the SEC – any team outside of Arkansas and a full-strength Tennessee. Remember that Iowa-LSU classic a couple of years ago? People don’t give the Big 10 respect, then the bowl season comes around and the battle the SEC and ACC tooth and nail. Of course, they invariably find a way to lose the Rose Bowl (unless Barry Alvarez was coaching).
Conversely, there are four SEC teams in the top 15.
It’s hard to make an argument for Michigan – even if you’ve seen them play. I feel they’re better than Florida (I’m sure many of you feel the same way), but it’s irrelevant. While Auburn fell apart in the Georgia game after beating Florida, they would probably wipe the floor with most teams in the Big 10. It’s not obvious that any Big 10 teams walk through that SEC schedule. Florida stumbled through it, but only lost 1 game. If OSU, Michigan and Wisconsin win their bowl games, folks may have to rethink this thing – but we won’t know that until January.
This anti-SEC bias is a serious and interesting thing. It’s really paradoxical. The south is widely recognized as playing the best brand of football in the country. The region is also recognized as having the best athletes in the country. The NFL certainly feels that way (see below). Of course, there is a caveat with that. The majority of elite athletes come from 3 states: Florida, Texas and California. Only UF plays in the SEC. Florida State and Miami (both of whom routinely beat the shit out of Spurrier-led Florida teams which won the SEC) were either independent (80’s), or in the Big East/ACC. I’m looking for an answer – but that seems to be a part of it. I don’t believe this bias was in place when Bear Bryant was coaching. He edged out undefeated Penn State teams in the 1970’s. This could all be a Spurrier hang-over for the conference. LSU and Auburn both went through undefeated and didn’t get a shot. How does that happen to them and not to USC? Maybe it’s because the SEC is not on ESPN. SEC games are only on CBS. In New York, there are no SEC games at noon – only at 3:30 in the middle of the afternoon. Maybe it’s the quarterback thing. USC has had big name quarterbacks. So has Michigan. The SEC, aside from the Mannings, hasn’t had too much. Think Matt Leinart vs. Jason Campbell.
Just heard on ESPN, Vegas oddsmakers make Michigan a 6 point favorite over Florida on a neutral field. Interesting. I don’t think it’s relevant. I think Florida hurdles Michigan and gets a shot. I guess that means Michigan may end up in the Rose Bowl playing USC. That could be a great game, but I honestly wouldn’t have much interest in watching. I’d rather see Michigan play LSU. I’d even rather see USC play Arkansas again. I think that would generate a ton of interest around the country since the Hogs are clearly not the same team. They couldn’t lose 50-14 again, could they??
From where I’m sitting, its not looking too good for the maize and blue.
FYI – NFL Players by College
BIG 10 –
Ohio State (40)
Penn State (31)