This is maaaaybe premature there, ESPN. Maryland #1 FWIW.
|WHAT||Michigan at Penn State|
Happy Valley, PA
|WHEN||Noon PM Eastern
November 21st, 2015
|THE LINE||Michigan –3.5|
|PARKING||oh god get your OSU parking now|
|WEATHER||partly cloudy, mid 40s, 0% chance of rain|
Penn State and James Franklin looked dead for the foreseeable future after an opening-week loss to Temple in which the Owls picked up ten sacks, one of them on a two-man rush. But Temple turned out be pretty damn good and Penn State turned out to be all right themselves.
The Nittany Lions throw up offensive clunkers on the regular and occasionally get shredded on the ground, but a relentless pass rush and Saquon Barkley generally have the Nittany Lions in position for Franklin to do something bogglingly dumb at the end of the game. Prepare for a good hard fought competition with no complaints about referees from either side!
Run Offense vs Penn State
This looks grim after Michigan did little other than break a couple of De'Veon Smith runs against Indiana. Anthony Zettel (sigh) and Austin Johnson comprise one of the top DT pairings in the country. They did the above to Northwestern whenever singled and crushed inside zone. With Michigan neither overpowering one on one or particularly good at comboing through DTs they project to meet a similar fate.
But other than those two guys Penn State isn't great. Carl Nassib, their elite pass rusher, will pop big lanes open as he goes for the QB. Without Nyeem Wartman-White their LBs are a little small and inexperienced. Their advanced stats all hover around average nationally; the schedule-adjusted ones place PSU just 37th nationally against the run.
After getting blown up a bunch early Northwestern found a rhythm by running power outside the tackles and finished with 6.3 YPC. Meanwhile Illinois got crushed but Maryland ripped off 5 YPC and OSU 6.3; PSU shut down Indiana but that was without both Sudfeld and Howard and should probably be ignored. Ace sees a way forward:
after I initially though Michigan would have to lean heavily on the pass to win this game, Northwestern's growing success with power eventually had me believing the opposite. If they can simply seal off the playside DT—not always that simple, of course—there's usually room on the edge, and the linebackers aren't good at closing space and making tackles in those gaps.
Easier said than done about the DTs but power does generally remove them from doing much more than pursuing, and Penn State is weak on the edge.
Whether Michigan can exploit that is an open question. Michigan's tailbacks miss holes; the linemen outside of Cole and (until the last couple weeks) Glasgow are mostly competent but often inconsistent. It's pretty easy to see Michigan target the wrong defenders and give too much ground and generally eat dirt for big chunks of the game. On the other hand, this might be a situation in which Michigan's diverse collection of misdirection plays puts a linebacker in the wrong gap and finds a guy with glorious hair loping through the secondary.
It's probably too much to ask for regular third and two, but a chunk play or three wouldn't go amiss.
KEY MATCHUP: PULLING MICHIGAN GUARDS against GETTING HUNG UP WHEN DUDES SLANT INSIDE oh and also MICHIGAN RUNNING BACKS for pants sake PLEASE FOLLOW SAID GUARDS
[Hit THE JUMP for MOUNT HACKENBERG IS SET TO BLOW]
I can't find tickets for Ohio State! I'm freaking out! Wait, let's go back a bit to understand my play here, and how it blew up in my face, in the latest installment of this secondary ticket article I write that you apparently find useful even though you can do a lot of this research yourself and at times it's a total bald face plea for seats. Two. Any section.
Yes I emailed our sponsor, TiqIQ already. He said it'll cost:
UM/OSU currently averages $420.33 on the secondary market, and that's with a 3% price drop this week. It's the most expensive matchup between the two of the past 6 seasons in either building.
Current get-in is $230 for a single seat & $300 for a pair (each after fees).
2012 in Columbus had a nearly identical average price ($419.21) but much lower Get-in ($150)
- Highest average was on 11/4 ($432), Lowest was 9/17 ($296).
- Highest get-in was on 11/9 ($243), Lowest was 9/8 ($117).
Let me know if you want any other data.
Yeesh. The singles right now are about $220. I'm betting they stick.
Michigan's been on the road for the most part since I last checked in, and those went as planned. Emailers reported they got their Minnesota tickets for $20 outside the game, and Indiana there were a lot of free ones available despite the nice weather.
For Rutgers everything online was face right up until the time I had to leave for Ann Arbor, and around the stadium people were asking for $50 and watching buyers walk away when I went in. I had to cast around to find someone to use my other seat—I was planning to go with Demorest until he got sick, and then my brother was sick, and my friends were either sick or moving, and then I had to explain that I can't move couches because it's my job to go to a Michigan-Rutgers game. This was a common tale; there were a ton of last-minute single seats open, a thing that happens during flu season and when the weather's bad.
I ended up taking Ace's press pass for Penn State so I'm out of that market, but I've been watching it closely and, like Penn State, it performed pretty much as expected…until this week:
|@Penn State||$110||$75||$75||Now||See discussion below.|
|Ohio State||$181||$225||$225||Now||Once OSU beats State, the Bucks are comin'|
That dip was sudden and dramatic, and took place almost entirely with big groups of tickets becoming available in the northwest end zone:
Let me zoom in:
I'm not sure but I'm pretty sure those are Michigan's allotment that suddenly made available huge swaths of unused seats. I'm basing this assumption on the fact that these were where the away fans sat in 2013 when we went. This was their Wisconsin game in 2012 to show it better since their red sticks out:
See the strip of Badgers on the upper-left/two-decker side?
This is just a total guess but if there's a reason Michigan group tickets suddenly fell back into the pool it's probably because basketball plays Xavier at 9 p.m. tonight, then Penn State at noon tomorrow, so going to both would require either a constitution that doesn't require sleep or a private jet. My hypothesis is people in position to snatch up these tickets early did so, and now they can't use them.
Then there's The Game. I expect Ohio State to crush Michigan State on Saturday. If that occurs, the Buckeyes will rush to buy seats and single seats will jump $250. If Michigan loses that will put more tix on the market, but it's a market that will be moving so fast the price will stand. I think that's about the limit; the Big House has too many seats to fill to cruise over $250. If you MUST go and you can't afford that, you can try to find some greedy bastard who waited too long to make a profit 10 minutes after kickoff, but expect to end up watching in a bar.
If your friend offers to let you use his seats but he's out of town and his tickets are at home—have your buddy call the ticket office and release them to you. This can be done online as well. Sometimes folks don't realize the paper tickets they left in a drawer don't have to go unused.
BEST DEAL RIGHT NOW (that I can find on the sponsor's site because let's support people who support us okay?)
Wanna see the ONLY good non-conference game that'll be in Crisler all year? There are a bunch of mid-court upper deck seats available for under $20 right now.
You won't be able to see Doyle's sweat bubbles from there, but I can confirm Robinson's threes look sweet from 225.
P.S. Said sponsor has an app now in case you're on your phone reading this and don't have microscopic fingertips. If you're using them use the code MGOBLOG and they'll give you 10% off certain listings.
Upon Further Review still has a sponsor.
I was going to tell a story about how Matt invented the mortgage in 1745 but given the persnickety legal details that come with being a broker I think that might actually be heinously illegal, so I'll have to skip it. When Matt talks to lawyers about running within the bounds of the law it seems like he gets tossed a dusty 500-page tome and is told to memorize it. So our story dies before it can even live. But at least you can be secure in your decisions when it comes to owning a home, amirite?
FORMATION NOTES: Michigan didn't do much that was out of the ordinary for them. Indiana was very aggressive.
They had a standup end similar to the buck spot; I still interpreted him as a DE.
PERSONNEL NOTES: Pretty standard at this point. Smith, Houma, and Johnson got the only tailback snaps. Bunting has fallen out of the TE rotation. When they need a third guy they go with Hill or Poggi. Newsome only on goal line plays.
Ways got a few snaps but it was almost all Darboh and Chesson plus Perry in three wide sets.
[After THE JUMP: Rudock does okay-ish.]
I don’t have an artsy intro this week because I spent a bunch of extra time making some charts, so instead I’ll refer you to BiSB’s intro to Opponent Watch, which is excellent.
The Mathlete’s Four Factors:
Again, a quick reminder of what the factors mean:
Field Position = Expected team points based on starting field position. This accounts for all elements of field position: turnovers, special teams, drive penetration etc.
Conversion rate = [1st Downs gained]/[1st Down plays (including first play of drive)]. A three and out is 0/1. A one play touchdown is 1/1. Two first downs and then a stop is 2/3, etc.
Bonus Yards = [Yards gained beyond the first down line]/[Total plays from scrimmage]
This is an adjustment to how I have previously calculated, to account for the plays a team runs.
Red Zone: Points per red zone trip (TD’s counted as 7 regardless of PAT)
|Field Pos.||Conv. Rate (%)||Bonus YPP||Red Zone|
|Rank (B1G Rk)||84 (12)||54 (6)||43 (6)||30 (5)|
|Rank (B1G Rk)||91 (14)||30 (4)||31 (3)||27 (4)|
|Rank (B1G Rk)||59 (10)||54 (3)||39 (3)||20 (2)|
|Rank (B1G Rk)||41 (4)||39 (1)||25 (2)||21 (2)|
|Rank (B1G Rk)||36 (4)||61 (5)||36 (3)||31 (2)|
|Rank (B1G Rk)||45 (6)||51 (3)||44 (6)||3 (1)|
|Rank (B1G Rk)||46 (6)||35 (2)||43 (5)||4 (1)|
|Rank (B1G Rk)||46 (6)||11 (1)||33 (3)||13 (2)|
|Field Pos.||Conv. Rate||Bonus YPP||Red Zone|
|Rank (B1G Rk)||35 (4)||38 (6)||9 (3)||100 (13)|
|Rank (B1G Rk)||29 (5)||17 (4)||4 (1)||110 (13)|
|Rank (B1G Rk)||32 (4)||7 (2)||1 (1)||115 (13)|
|Rank (B1G Rk)||21 (4)||6 (1)||1 (1)||115 (12)|
|Rank (B1G Rk)||20 (3)||6 (1)||1 (1)||124 (13)|
|Rank (B1G Rk)||17 (3)||7 (2)||6 (2)||42 (6)|
|Rank (B1G Rk)||22 (4)||6 (1)||5 (2)||13 (2)|
|Rank (B1G Rk)||27 (5)||13 (4)||2 (2)||10 (2)|
[Hit THE JUMP for 100% more charts]
For several years I've been publishing an HTTV-like thing with the Penn State bloggers. Last year I did a VEQ with PSU blogging capo emeritus Mike Pettigano, and we had BSD managing editor Cari Greene on MGoRadio this week. The third editor of our book is Jared Slanina (@Jared_BSD), whom I saved for this.
1. Your offense is listed as "Pro-Style." Since that hasn't had any meaning for 10 years, what is it really? Under center or shotgun? Passing spread? Dink and dunk and screen? Play-action? Grab bag? A million plays or a few good ones?
I would say "grab bag" is the best description. For most of the season they over-relied on screens and short outs, which isn't really a great fit for Hackenberg and allowed defenses to load up the box and wreak havoc on our struggling offensive line. The offense started rolling during a short stretch once the staff realized the effectiveness of the vertical passing game with a pocket passer with a strong arm and a group of tall and speedy receivers.
However, against Northwestern they reverted back to the conservative style where they basically just ran Barkley and threw short passes to him, and hoped he could beat the Wildcats all by himself. Once again, the offense struggled to find much a rhythm. Using history as a guide, Penn State might again run a conservative offense that plays right into Michigan's strengths. It's almost as if the whole gameplan against a team with a stout defense is hope against hope that Barkley produces a couple big scoring plays and the defense holds the opponent to single digits.
Obviously, it hasn't been terribly effective against the likes of Ohio State, Northwestern and Temple, and certainly won't put the team in a good position to pull off upsets against Michigan or Michigan State in the final two weeks of the regular season.
2. So, how's the OL cleanup going? Are you still starting a recycling bin or has he been passed by a flesh and blood person yet?
No no your blocks are THAT way! [Eric Upchurch]
Let's start with the good news: Penn State now has an experienced offensive line filled with actual human beings! Gone are the days where they relied on stop signs and scarecrows to slow down the pass rush. While the OL has gained valuable experience, they still are the weakest link on the team. It's still a young group, but the lack of progress since the start of 2014 is disturbing. They are not quite the dumpster fire they were a season ago where they allowed the most sacks in the history of the Big Ten, but they have a long way to go before being a serious contender in the East. My feeling is that the Wolverines banged up DL will still be able to dominate Penn State's OL, allowing Michigan to control the game from start to finish.
[After THE JUMP: Dae'sean Hamilton is gonna die]
Previously: Penn State Defense
not full-blown Ghost Gardner, but definitely erratic [Fuller]
Penn State's offense looked somewhat more functional against Northwestern than they did against, say, Temple, when Christian Hackenberg looked destined to finish the season in a full-body cast. Thanks in large part to the emergence of slippery freshman running back Saquon Barkley, the PSU offense is now at least semi-functional.
It's hard to say it's much better than that, though. Here's how they did against Northwestern:
- Seven three-and-outs
- One four-and-out
- Two five-and-outs
- 8-play, 30-yard drive; interception
- 8-play, 39-yard drive; punt
- 9-play, 79-yard TD drive
- 5-play, 70-yard TD drive that should've been a three-and-out; 30 yards came from a roughing the punter and a late hit on Hackenberg after a scramble
- 5-play, 71-yard TD drive
That's two real scoring drives, another on which half the credit goes to Northwestern doing dumb things, and a lot of ugly.
Personnel. Seth's diagram [click to embiggen]:
The good news for PSU is they brought back a lot of players. You know the bad news if you watched them play last year.
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? Pro-style to a fault. Penn State's offense was most successful when they spread Northwestern out and ran the ball; they'd do this once in a while and then go right back to doomed under-center runs with an extra OL lining up at H-back. James Franklin is a great recruiter, but there's plenty of reason—and mounting evidence—to believe he's not much of a tactician.
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? Penn State mostly ran inside zone, split zone, and the occasional power. Brian asked me to check if they ran any zone stretches since Michigan struggled so badly with them against Indiana; they ran none.
Hurry it up or grind it out? In very welcome news after last weekend, Penn State is dead last in the country in adjusted pace. They're brutally slow. This should prevent them from exploiting Ryan Glasgow's absence nearly as much as Indiana did; the Hoosiers not only wore out the starting DTs, they also prevented Michigan from subbing when the backups were caught on the field for extended time. PSU's offense isn't built to do that.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]