Now that I'm back in the states and am able to attend the games, I've seen some pretty disturbing things; the "you suck" chant (Just chant the damn Down Number, if we stuff them on 3rd down, chant "4TH DOWN!", if we stuff them on 4th down, chant "1ST DOWN!"), nearly losing to Akron, nearly losing to Uconn, actually losing to Penn St. But I do love football, so I'll try to get tickets to saturday's game in E. Lansing. I must be a glutton for punishment.
What that means is I won't be able to get on here and bitch about the game until several hours after it ends. So this diary is to get all my bitching out of the way beforehand. I'm not a psychic and all predictions are guaranteed to be incorrect. So if I betray any pessimism, consider it a chance for the team to prove me wrong.
Things that will probably happen before the game:
1. I will have to ask about 20 people before I can get a good price on a ticket.
2. Someone will bring up Dickhead Gholston. Which doesn't matter much since he's long gone.
3. Someone will bring up Dickhead Narduzzi's quote about "60 Minutes of unnecessary roughness". Which does matter because that's how his defense plays.
4. MSU's Band will bring out their fake wolverine mascot.
5. MSU fans will be annoying. Conveniently forgetting anything that happened earlier than 5 years ago.
6. I might refer to the Sparty mascot being gay, not that there's anything wrong with that, and how if he wants to marry Brutus, they could elope during the Rutgers game.
Things that will probably happen during the game:
1. We will not be able to run conventionally. Period. Unfortunately, Max Bullough seems to be the real deal. Remember 27 yards on 27 attempts? This game could be that bad, at least on a yards-per-carry basis. Hopefully we won't have as many attempts. I'd be ecstatic if we threw the ball 60 times and rushed 15. That ain't gonna happen.
Denard Devin will be good for at least 3 turnovers, probably two picks and one fumble. And he'll have two or three sacks, at least one of which is caused by his reverse spin and loses 15+ yards.
3. Funchess will make an amazing play, and then we'll be frustrated the rest of the game as he mysteriously disappears.
4. The Sparty defense will be jumping our snap count and we'll take major tackles for loss because of it.
5. Devin will rush for at least 80 yards and two TD's.
6. Gallon will get 100 yards receiving.
7. Spartan players will take cheap shots that aren't flagged.
8. One of our offensive linemen will get injured.
9. MSU will put together annoyingly long drives because we won't be able to stall their running game on 3rd down.
10. MSU fans will be annoying. Some fat idiot will yell "CHEATERS" whenever a flag is thrown. A brazenly foulmouthed pre-teen will get dangerously close to being slapped by me. That's just how they raise their kids.
11. Jake Ryan will save the day.
Things that will probably happen after the game:
1. Bipolar coordinator love will swing to the defensive side, Mattison will again be a genius and Borges will be on the hot seat. This will of course have everything to do with playing MSU instead of Indiana and not actual merit. (But yes, if we can UPGRADE Borges after the season, we should.)
2. Both fan bases will be upset with the referees. MSU will have about 4 pass interference penalties called against them, 3 of which spartans will think are ridiculous. Meanwhile I'll be able to freeze-frame 8 other instances that should have been called P.I. or defensive holding but weren't.
3. MSU fans will argue that any personal fouls called on them or other dirty plays that weren't flagged were somehow justified. Insert your own non-sequitur here. I'm partial to the idea that you should always beat up frat boys while wearing ski masks, because you know, "they had it coming".
4. If MSU wins, they'll probably win the division. If we win, I'll complain about how the division title is determined by conference record instead of division record since we'll probably lose to Ohio and have our only two losses being to the other division.
5. Win or Lose, something will be set on fire in E. Lansing.
6. MSU fans will be annoying.
Points of Quantum Uncertainty:
(aka, things that will swing the game)
1. Weather. The forecast calls for 40% chance of rain. With our dependence on the passing game and pass blocking, I'm guessing the more moisture, the worse for us.
2. Connor Cook's passing. Somewhere between 3.5 yards per attempt and whatever the hell that was last week will probably determine the game.
3. Al Borges the mad magician vs. Al Borges the stubborn coach looking for a new job. Self explanatory. (If you see Fitz catching wide open swings and screens, it could be a good day.)
4. The refs. THROW THE DAMN FLAG.
5. MSU Defensive scoring. We'll probably turn the ball over a few times. But will those be turned directly into TD's or will Mattison get a chance to make Connor Cook look like Andrew Maxwell?
1. Our basketball team looks good.
2. I hate cold weather.
3. I hope they didn't screw up Ender's Game.
4. I'm gonna do a Native American dance for sunshine and clear skies on Saturday. So like, an 'anti-rain-rain dance'.
THE BIG TEN BEGINS TO SORT ITSELF OUT: YOUR WEEKLY SUMMARY
NOTE: Normally, this would have gone up yesterday, but as I was at an offsite and only intermittently available to do, well, anything for most of the day, I had to put this off until this morning. If you were looking for it, that’s what happened and I apologize for the delay.
We’re getting to a point now where some teams have now played a full two-thirds of their schedule, so the conference looks as if it is beginning to sort itself out on paper.
SCORING OFFENSE AND DEFENSE:
When it comes to average points scored, we have an interesting separation now. There are basically five teams that are averaging 40 points or more per game (39.9, 40….close enough), and then production drops quite a bit. After Nebraska and Wisconsin, the next nearest team to the top is Illinois at 30.7 points and they are the top of a wide tier of teams in the 30-27 range. Then, of course, there is Purdue.
The progression on defense, on the other hand, is fairly steady from the stingiest to the most generous, and aren’t we lucky that we get to play the stingiest team in a few short days? The point differential graph basically is the result of Ohio State’s drubbing of Penn State this past Saturday.
TOTAL OFFENSE AND DEFENSE:
There is a fair amount of stability here at this point – Ohio State, Wisconsin, Indiana and Nebraska tend to be the top four most weeks at this point. Michigan, buoyed somewhat by a prolific performance against Indiana, comes next after those teams. On the other side of the ball, Michigan State is firmly asserting itself as the most difficult team to get yards against, and it might even be the case that their average would be sub-200 if not for, well, their experience against Indiana.
RUSHING OFFENSE AND DEFENSE:
We are still one of the toughest teams to run against, so we’ve definitely go that going for us, and we sit near the mean for rushing offense, which I suppose I will take given the noted woes in this aspect of offense. The top teams in rushing offense again should not shock anyone, although Minnesota is quietly climbing that chart. If you want to be able to run the ball all day, Illinois and Indiana are the teams for you.
PASSING OFFENSE AND DEFENSE:
This aspect of the game, at least when it comes to offense, is getting to be “Indiana” and “Others” at this point, but Michigan is third here, sandwiched between Penn State and Nathan Scheelhaase’s resume of wasted performances. At the far end, you see Minnesota putting out passing numbers usually reserved for triple-option teams. If you’re just looking for Michigan’s stats by now, the passing defense numbers are, thanks to Indiana and one or two other games, not the best.
THIRD AND FIRST DOWNS:
As we know, not winning this battle makes it difficult to win the game typically. In other words, the tempo-free chart is starting to align with the story of the Big Ten this season when it comes to relative success or lack thereof. The first down differential is telling you a similar story, I believe.
SPECIAL TEAMS DATA:
Turnover Comparison: MSU is just not turning the ball over this year. With 1.1 giveaways per game, they are ranked #16 in the nation. That would be a lot better if MSU did not have an almost unbelievably poor 17% recovery rate (ranked #121) on their own fumbles. Sparty is not doing as good on takeaways with 1.9 takeaways per game – ranked #43. Overall, their turnover margin of +0.7 is excellent and ranked #18. At home, MSU is +1.0 in TOM and away they are +0.3
On paper, Michigan's giveaways are 2.43 per game and ranked #103. However, M dug itself into a huge hole with 12 giveaways in the first 4 games (an average of 3.0 per game). Over the last 3 games, Michigan has 5 giveaways (an average of 1.67 per game which would be ranked #58 ). Michigan is doing very good in takeaways with 2.14 per game and is ranked #28. At home, M is 0.0 for TOM and away we are –1.0.
Gardner threw 8 interceptions in the first 4 games (an average of 2.0 per game) but has thrown just 2 in the last 3 games (0.67 per game which would be ranked #22). Since it will be very difficult for Michigan to run the ball against MSU, Gardner will be tossing the ball around a lot.
Obviously, going into the game, MSU has the statistical advantage for turnovers. However, TOs are highly variable from game to game and are not very predictable. Almost all teams that end the year with very good TOMs have one or more games with negative TOMs during the year.
Keep your fingers crossed.
National Rankings: The chart shows Michigan's detailed turnover numbers (top 3 rows) compared to MSU's. All rankings include games between two FBS teams ONLY and are from TeamRankings except for forced fumbles which is from CFBStats. The four columns with *** show the best correlation to offense and defense (per Advanced NFL stats).
(and what to be prepared for when you succeed)
Co-authored by K.O.K.Law's oldest daughter
First and foremost, if you are the one who HAS to go to every home game, clear that with your partner. Having a spouse willing to forego going to a game(s) to take a child(ren) to other activities when conflicts arise is essential.
Take them early (age) and often:
Be Prepared: If your 3-year-old wants a better view of the band for the halftime show, be prepared to carry her down and back up to your seats in row 87.
Pro Tip: Keep them comfortable, and they will learn to stay to the end of the every game. And will even make you do so when you think Washington has the game won.
Buy them the right game clothes:
As their passion grows so will their need for accessories (socks, shoes, pompoms, facepaint).
Be Prepared: Their favorites will be YOUR old t-shirts and sweatshirts, be ready to hand them down. If you set the standard of buying them a bowl game shirt for Christmas each year, expect to get yelled at by your 21 and 25 year-old daughters the year you forget (or as you say “Oh, I didn’t think you’d still want one”).
Take them to all the sports! Baseball, basketball, hockey, and other games, whenever you can:
- College hockey at the Joe was close for us.
Be Prepared: This is where superstitions start getting serious, they will add to the clothing items they’ve acquired to create lucky outfits - for each sport.
Get a good parking spot:
Be Prepared: You need to park close, as you might have to get the rugrats back right after the game, for their sport or other school or friend function, and/or leave immediately from a morning event to make the kickoff.
Pro Tip: Get your father-in-law’s parking sticker so you can get in and out really fast.
Second Pro Tip: And, if you are lucky enough that your offspring attend U of M, make parking at their ideally located house a condition of you paying their rent.
Buy them all the treats they want at the games. Remember, it was your idea to take them:
Be Prepared: This will turn into “lucky” Lemon Chills & ice cream cones, that they will insist you pay for into their 20s (and beyond).
You might have to give up tailgating (until they’re in college), so they can do things Saturday mornings and evenings. Don’t make the choice between their stuff and U of M football, make the football fit into their lives.
Be Prepared: They may have to change into their homecoming dress (and do their hair and makeup) in the back of the mini-van after a game. You might have to make an emergency make up purchase when your daughter freaks out over forgetting sunblock and now has a big white block M on her cheek from where the facepaint was.
Share and teach the history, tradition, passion, etc:
Play your Ufer CDs and when you do the play by play along with the CD, it will amaze them. Daughter #2 turned to look at me and said, in an even keeled voice, “That’s not normal.” Tell stories about how their grandfather and Canham were buddies, how a U of M AD employee used to reserve a parking spot for Grandpa’s Bud van. Have them read Bacon’s books (and Brandy’s and Angelique’s and all of them).
Be Prepared: They will ask you questions you don’t have the answer to, especially after they read the books, so be ready to learn even more about Michigan.
Pro Tip: They will take YOUR CDs and books off to college with them, so buy them their own copies.
Take them to Columbus for a U of M v. Ohio. If nothing else, this will cause them to lose all interest in matriculating there:
There is no turnoff quite like live Buckeye behavior.
Be Prepared: You will have trouble convincing one daughter to ever go back, because U of M lost and she’s unlucky (J went over a decade before setting foot in Columbus again & still hasn’t been back for a football game), while explaining to the other daughter that “No, we can’t go to Columbus every other year for the game” and then inevitably giving in and taking her.
Pro Tip: Go on the alumni association bus trip. They have the parking spot, you can walk in and out of the Snakepit with a group of non-barbarians. Even then, one of the barbarians may try to pick a fight with your daughter.
Once the oldest is hooked, the younger siblings are sure to follow:
Be Prepared: Of course, the younger will require her own lucky outfits and Ufer CDs and books.
Pro Tip: Don’t tell them they are following the example of the older sibling! The younger won’t admit how much they look up to the older and the older will at some point get annoyed by the copy catting of the younger.
Take them to the football bust, so they can see players up close and personal:
Be Prepared: You’ll be expected to get them good seats and all the good autographs.
If you make a trip to the Rose Bowl, spend the night before the parade on Colorado Boulevard:
Camping out guarantees front row seats for the parade!
Be Prepared: If you do this once, you’ll have to do it every time. Oh and the drunk 20-somethings next to you will spill mustard all over your sleeping bags. So take the grungy ones.
Pro Tip: Bring silly string! In addition to sleeping bags, snacks, water, and cards & games, though the crowd provides ample entertainment.
Side Effects of Success
When you teach your 6-year-old to say Tshimanga Biakabutuka, you will both think it is the greatest trick ever and will insist upon demonstrating for everyone.
When Mom insists that your daughter visit Michigan State, she will wear her “Bow Down Little Brother” shirt the entire time.
They will not hide their true colors from teachers, aunts, uncles, parents of their friends, or your friends who may be MSU grads.
There will be endless superstitions: hooking pinky fingers on the inside hands for defense, outside for offense, switching seats, switching hats. Your 26-year-old daughter will no longer cut her hair during football season after making that mistake two days before the 2006 Michigan-Ohio game.
They might be the only person in their U of M friend group freshmen year who knows why we announce the Slippery Rock score at every game.
You’ll become more worried about their cardiac health on football Saturdays than your own.
For the parent:
A shared tradition of team values and integrity, good role models, teaching some of the ups and downs of life, which is sometimes unfair, people get injured, lifetime dreams die on a single play, you cannot win them all, cliches, yes, but with value to be passed on. Real people, they can see, and talk to on occasion, not just stories in books. Hopefully, you will raise someone to take you to the games in your dotage.
For the child:
The reward has been lessons in being part of something bigger than yourself and how you represent that, in loyalty, in passion, in the ups and downs of life, in making sacrifices, in bringing people together.
The reward has been the memories, the times spent with my dad related to Michigan are some of my favorites. I remember rushing from my tennis match to the Big House and from the Big House to the homecoming dance. I remember three hour road trips to South Bend, in which he sang college fight songs the entire drive and I couldn’t believe I was related to him. I remember exuberant celebrations together after a victory. I remember him setting aside his own feelings to comfort me after a particularly dreadful loss. I remember phone calls in college after games to talk about the highs & lows, to make sure I was still alive, to make plans for the next game, the next road trip.
The reward is being a (three time) Michigan alumna. Walking onto campus as a freshman, my love of Michigan became my own in a way it hadn’t been before. I learned, embraced, and loved what Michigan was beyond the Big House and Yost. That love is something I share with thousands of alumni, family members, college friends, but most of all my daddy. I know that wherever life takes us, we’ll always share our love of Michigan.
CIRCLING BACK: UPDATE ON AP POLL BEHAVIOR
Those of you that look at the polls as they are released each Sunday know that Michigan did in fact fall out of the Top 25 in the AP poll after the Penn State game. I thought, however, that this might be a good time to circle back and look at the overall picture now that we have lived through another full month of the season.
The summary data is below:
AVERAGE RANK (ALL VOTES)
The average position of Michigan’s AP vote has fallen from 14.597 to 16.836 in the last month, so basically two full points, which is considerable. The median ranking is 17thand for the time being, the mode is still 16thin the poll. The variance in the votes has increased significantly as well, from about 10 positions to nearly 15 positions now. Part of that is more votes, part of it is performance.
Below is the change in average position each week. I should state at this point that one thing I have done here is count the votes which put us in the range of the Top 25 for purposes of calculating these averages since there were still reasonably significant portions of the voters which did rank us. Still, the last two weeks are likely better stated as approximations.
Since the preseason poll, we have had quite the ride, as you can see.
Here is the tracking of the average ranking versus actual ranking and their differential. Again, the same note here – the last two weeks are approximate because of the number of “unranked” votes. I am still not sure exactly where I want to go with that differential, which I had start calling “The Hater Index”, but if it is showing anything here, it is showing that the voters are somehow kinder than the actual formula for calculating rank perhaps.
Here are the weekly distributions. These do show the number of occurrences of “unranked”, and indeed, you can see that a couple weeks ago, I started putting the actual counts on the graph. I have a separate table which contains the entire distribution, so if you are interested in precise figures, I can make them available and the next poll check will include numbers on all weekly distributions.
Here is the cumulative distribution of all votes (apologies in advance for the sizing - I can provide the direct link if anyone wants it):
So I'm finishing up the chart for the first game of the series on Wednesday night. I had Fox Sports Detroit on before I started watching the game on my DVR, which I thought nothing of because it's pretty typical for me to have Fox Sports Detroit on. After I finish charting, however, I hit stop on the recording and the Red Wings game comes on and PRETTY MUCH BURNS MY RETINAS WHY IS THIS ICE SO BRIGHT. Hockey in high def is most definitely not what Fox Sports College Atlantic or whatever it was was broadcasting for these Michigan games. Like Brian said in his post, it was basically like watching a legal stream. That wandering anecdote was my way of saying that the Corsi charts have some values that may not be perfect. I'm not really concerned though, as there are things that I may have marked a shot that missed the net or vice versa that even each other out in the overall numbers. This is why I don't change numbers in the shots column to match the official score sheet; it should work itself out when considering all of the categories.
Friday, 10/18/13 at UNH
- Things that are good: spending time not in the penalty box. Things that are bad: spending time in the penalty box. Of UNH's 37 shots 11 came on the power play. Of their misses, 7 of 21 came on the power play. Of UNH's blocked shots, 7 of 14 came on the power play. That's 29.7% of their shots, 33.3% of their misses, and 50% of their blocks. Worried about being outshot? Try to keep five guys on the ice.
- Even though Michigan was handily defeated in terms of possession, the game was a little more open than the numbers indicate. A lot of this game was played in the neutral zone, with each team trying and failing to create an offensive zone presence. An argument could be made, however, for UNH carrying the play because whoa that third period was rough. Michigan was circling and circling and circling in the defensive zone and I had to keep pausing the recording so I could mark more stuff down for UNH.
- UNH's numbers look pretty dominant in overtime but we're looking at a five minute sample. UNH had possession but I can't remember any part of OT where I thought Michigan dodged a bullet.
Saturday, 10/19/13 at UNH
- This was a game of extended periods of back-and-forth punctuated by furious bursts of offensive zone activity. Michigan looked like they were handily outplayed in the second period (especially the second half of the second period, where they couldn't clear the puck for anything) and the numbers bear this out. At one point UNH went on a tear of four consecutive shots on goal in what had to be under a minute. It looked like the tide of the game may have been turning, but the clock mercifully ran out.
- UNH picked up where they left off and generated a number of chances early in the third period. Their offensive zone time came in smaller bursts, however, and the game transitioned back to an up-and-down affair. Michigan eventually got their own extended offensive zone time and ended up with a slight advantage overall in Corsi for the period.
- Special teams were the theme of Friday night but weren't a factor after the first two periods on Saturday. In the first period 12 of Michigan's 21 shots (57.14%) came on the power play. In the second period 10 of UNH's 25 shots (40.00%) came on the power play. After that? Not even a power play opportunity for either team.
- I like Nagelvoort and his giant leg pads. They're like belly putters in golf; comedically oversized but effective in their own right.