Michigan Is 4-0 After Losses Under Brady Hoke, but What Does That Really Say?

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Michigan Is 4-0 After Losses Under Brady Hoke, but What Does That Really Say?
Eric Francis/Getty Images

One of the better data points for the Brady Hoke era at Michigan (aside from his overall record of 16-5, which is objectively good) is the fact that up to this point, Michigan is 4-0 in games played after losses. He's got a chance to put that record on the line at Minnesota this week, and odds are pretty good it goes to 5-0 by 3:30 Saturday.

Here's more on the stat from AnnArbor.com

Michigan is facing adversity after failing to score a touchdown the past two games, losing its starting quarterback to injury and dropping last week's matchup to Nebraska.

On the bright side: Michigan has been at its best after losses under coach Brady Hoke. Perfect, in fact.

The Wolverines are 4-0 following a loss the past two years and have lapped the competition, doubling up opponents 142-66 after a setback.

That's prevented seasons from snowballing, which was a problem during former coach Rich Rodriguez's tenure. Michigan was 5-14 after losses in the three years preceding Hoke's arrival.

The Wolverines got off to fast starts in 2009 (4-0) and (2010 (5-0), but one loss seemed to bleed into another and those seasons were lost.

Obviously, 4-0 is better than 5-14. Heck, even 4-1 with a disastrous loss to Minnesota is miles better than 5-14. But let's look at those wins—and the losses that preceded them.

2011: Lost to Michigan State 28-14, beat Purdue 36-14
2011: Lost to Iowa 24-16, beat Illinois 31-14
2012: Lost to Alabama 41-14, beat Air Force 31-25
2012: Lost to Notre Dame 13-6, beat Purdue 44-13
2012: Lost to Nebraska 23-9, will probably beat Minnesota because LOL Minnesota 

Michigan State won 11 games and nearly beat Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship. Purdue only finished with a winning season by beating a MAC team in the Little Caesar's Bowl. Iowa went to the Insight Bowl and played a nationally ranked Oklahoma team. Illinois went to the Fight Hunger Bowl and played a nationally derided UCLA team. 

This year, Alabama is the best team in the nation. Air Force is 5-3 in a joke of a Mountain West conference. Notre Dame is another top-five team nationally. Purdue is barely in the top five of its own six-team division. Nebraska is probably the best college football team in the Big Ten Legends Division. Minnesota is probably the best college football team in Minnesota.

Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE
Everything did not go as planned for the Gophers against Wisconsin.

So let's be clear about this: Michigan's not accomplishing a whole lot more with this wins-after-losses. About the only demonstrable instance of improvement from one week to the next is the Illinois road win after the Iowa loss, considering how remarkably below-average Purdue has been the last two years.

And yeah, those losses are to tough competition (and Iowa). But if Michigan's actually "back," those are games in which the Wolverines need to be more competitive. As it stands right now, Michigan is 3-4 in games against BCS-level competition that finished (or is on pace to finish) two or more games over .500 on the season. That's pretty good, but that's it.

At the very least, yeah, Michigan's seasons aren't falling off cliffs anymore. That's something for Hoke to hang his hat on. But if the best thing you can say about your team is that the disasters have stopped, is your team really "back" at all?

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