Behind the Numbers: Michigan in Big Ten

Michigan has been here before. The Wolverines, despite recent struggles, have been at least 4-0 each of the past two seasons. It’s what Michigan has done after those hot starts, more specifically in Big Ten play, that defines the all-time winningest program’s most recent history. It’s not pretty, and it’s something the once-again 4-0 Wolverines hope to change this season, beginning with Saturday’s Big Ten opener against Minnesota at noon ET on BTN. See the breakdown in this post.

Here’s a look at Michigan’s post-nonconference numbers following its 2009 (4-0) and 2010 (5-0) hot starts:

2-7 Michigan’s record in October

2-8 Michigan’s record in November

4-12 Michigan’s Big Ten record

8-24 Overall conference record of Big Ten teams Michigan beat

4-4 Best Conference record of Big Ten team Michigan beat (Illinois, 2010)

424-580 Michigan-Big Ten opponents combined score

7-13 Michigan’s record against FBS teams

Read more about Michigan’s struggles on the heels of hot starts in Kyle Meinke’s AnnArbor.com piece. Here’s a sampling:

“Most teams would take pride in a 4-0 start, but the Wolverines are not; which makes sense, considering they were 4-0 two years ago, 5-0 last year, then finished those seasons a combined 2-12 against FBS teams.

“‘You can see our record against Big Ten opponents, and it hasn’t been anywhere close to where it need to be,” Ryan Van Bergen said. “Who cares about being 4-0 in non-conference? Yeah, it’d be great to be 4-0 rather than 0-4, but it doesn’t matter once you start Big Ten.’”

Like the last two Big Ten openers, both against Indiana, Michigan draws a favorable opponent Saturday in Minnesota (1-3), which has lost home games to New Mexico State and North Dakota State this season. The Little Brown Jug will be up for grabs at Michigan Stadium, but the bigger story will be how Michigan looks in Big Ten play. If history is any indication — Michigan has won 41 of its last 43 Big Ten openers — the Wolverines shouldn’t have to worry about the struggles until next week’s game at Northwestern.

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