this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Ohio State, as we all know, is 11-0. But there are some interesting statistics that came up in my research on our upcoming rivalry game regarding how OSU got to 11 wins: In 4 of their close games, OSU was outgained by their opponents.
|Total yards (opponent)||Total yards (OSU)||Turnover differential (OSU)|
The Purdue game can be thrown out because of B. Miller's injury. Of the remaining, 2/3 were decided only by a touchdown. Turnover margin for those three games collectively was +3 for OSU.
The most compelling statistic is the one against Wisconsin - a difference of 124 yards. Given that Wisconsin ranks #11 in total defense in the NCAA (against our #12), this is promising. We played a harder pre-conference schedule - Oregon State was the only tough competition for Wisco, against our Alabama + Notre Dame - and, Ohio game removed, Wisco would fall below us in Total Defense rankings.
That said, Wisconsin is very strong at defending the run (#9) and pretty good at defending the pass (#25). We are very average at defending the run (#51)* and excellent at defending the pass (#1). OSU is a team heavy on the run.
OSU is bad at defending the pass (#84) and good at defending the run (#17).* Since the advent of Devin Gardner, 63% of our yardage has been in passing yards. More than 500 of those 800 yards came against opponents ranked higher in pass defense than OSU (Iowa #58, Minnesota #16). Even correcting for strength of schedule would likely not fully resolve the parity between Minnesota and OSU's passing defenses.
Expect our run game to be stuffed but for our pass attack to move willingly down the field (Gardner starting). Expect OSU's rush to move downfield but for their pass attack to be stuffed.
Worry if our players turn the ball over. OSU will capitalize on turnovers. Gardner has thrown one interception per game since he has been the starter. Granted, that is with a remarkable play by Marcus Hyde, but nonetheless. We also had a fumble against Northwestern.
It is certain that we can outgain OSU and still lose the game. This is an important thing. At full strength, OSU has bested 3 opponents who have outgained them - 2/3 by 100 yards or more. That's unheard of by my ears. We cannot turn the ball over.
What does this tell us? OSU has come off with some miraculous wins. A +3 turnover margin still isn't that major. Being outgained by 280 yards in 3 of their wins makes those wins look remarkable and unbelievable. OSU has a stellar red zone defense. Otherwise, we learn little. Scheme is a better predictor than statistics like these, but I'm not a schematic minded fellow. Take this all with a grain of salt. Mostly, this is just interesting fluff that hopefully will help guide you in where you look today and tomorrow.
Who will win the game? I have a good feeling. I think we are clearly the better team this year. But this game is bigger than statistics. We haven't won in the Toilet Bowl in 12 years.
*It is worth noting that we have played rushing offense teams ranked #2, #16, #8, #27, and #33. OSU has played #8 and #17 in the same range. We face the #9 rushing team this weekend. Against #8 Nebraska, we allowed 160 rushing yards - significantly below their season average. #16 Northwestern put 248 up - slightly above their average. #2 Air Force hung 290 - slightly below their average. Alabama put up slightly above their average, and Notre Dame put up less than half their average. Wisconsin has only played #8 and #9 in rushing offense in the same range, holding OSU significantly below their average and Nebraska around their average.
Late last year, and then again last February Draftstreet.com let us host a freeroll for those interested in testing out their daily/weekly fantasy games. Last week we brought it back.
Remind me what this is:
It's fantasy except instead of drafting one team at the beginning of the season you build a new one each week. Enrollment in our pool is free for MGoReaders, and there's $200 in the pool paid out among the Top 12 finishers as soon as each freeroll ends.
Note: you can't be eligible for prize money, even though entry is free, if you're from Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Vermont, or Puerto Rico.
You get a salary cap of $100,000 to pick two QBs, three RBs, two WRs, a TE, and two FLEX positions. You can adjust your roster up until the contest starts on Saturday 11/24 at 12:00pm ET at which time your rosters will lock and the Live Scoreboard will be available.
About last week:
Congrats to kenchenzo, aka kenfizzle in these pages, who rode Landry Jones, Collin Klein and Tavon Austin to run up the score like an Al Borges team in the one game a year he releases the Fritzcracken. Other winners were people with Tajh Boyd or who discovered Army's rush defense, or were rewarded for Gardner/Roundtree homer picks: unbwolverine, tpsimm, mattpergo, WindyCityWolverine, kdefoor, fhcstar8, gbizz34, jacobak, imsande17, jchood, and hurt36.
Gardner was by far the Big Ten player of the week, accounting for 51.26 points. Best WR was Allen Robinson (47.7), best RB turned out to be the Lions' Zach Zwinak (28.1).
I asked Larry from DraftStreet a few questions about how they create their valuations.
How do you evaluate guys who are injured, for example Denard, or Rex Burkhead.
The salaries are usually under the assumption that the guy will be playing. Once in a while we might factor in how many reps they are getting and we might give that player a slightly discounted salary if it looks like they are getting less reps. This is usually not the case though.
What drives the values for a player? Is it based on stats, or recent success, or upcoming opponent, or all of these?
What we do is take the fantasy production historically, but recent performances are rated more heavily. Then we factor in the opposing defense, which is a big deal. For example your Devin Gardner had a huge performance last week and is mostly expected to be the starter, however Ohio State's defense is expected to be a much greater challenge than Iowa's so he remains a value pick. Conversely, Iowa's implosion last week down-rated their defense and drove Taylor Martinez's price up. Once we are done with this we have a manual process where we look through player news and injury reports and factor those things in accordingly.
CLICK HERE to register for this week's league.
The 1978 game set up as another in the Ten Year War with the winner going to the Rose Bowl. Bo lost to MSC for the first time since his rookie season, and the first time in A2, as QB Eddie Smith and Kirk Gibson rode roughshod over us. MSC lost their conference opener to Purdue, and ran the table after that, but, were on probation for some irregularities under Denny Stoltz, so ineligible for the Rose Bowl.
It was said that when Stoltz MSC assistants went into the lockerroom after the Ohio high school football all star game, some of the players started singing “Here Comes Santa Claus.”
Having had enough of Friday nights on High Street, another scalper friend and I decide to make the trip, but leave the morning of the game. We arrive in plenty of time to hustle tickets, make some money, and get in for the kickoff.
I have also moved to wearing neutral colors.
Our defense, incredibly, holds the Buckeyes without a touchdown, in their own stadium, against their archrival, for the third consecutive time.
Newt Loken, the legendary UM gymnastics coach, had a son who was on the cheerleading squad. My scalper friend, Jimmy, was friends with him.
Holding a 14 – 3 lead with about 6 minutes left in the game, Jimmy says, let's go down on the field and say hi to Newt's son.
I was skeptical, but, went along.
Times being what they were, pre 9-11, and all, we just drew his attention, and jumped on the field, in the corner by the visiting section at the closed end of the horseshoe.
Jimmy had a camera, and imposed upon junior to take our picture. He suggested that we back off the sideline, onto the field. I mean, literally, on the field of play.
The teams were around the 20 yard line at the other end of the field. We moved about ten yards out from the sideline, and the picture was taken of us with the scoreboard in the background.
I lost the damn picture years ago.
(If anyone knows Jimmy Chu, see if he can get me a copy)
This road trip thing seems to be working fairly well, two trips, two wins, so I go again in 1980. Again, the Rose Bowl on the line. Woody is gone, allegedly fired for punching that Clemson player in the Rose Bowl. But the real reason is, he lost to us three years in a row.
Earl Bruce had taken over and gone undefeated in the 1979 regular season, before adopting conference tradition and choking in the Rose Bowl.
1980 was not a good game for Ali Hadji Sheikh, our excellent kicker. He missed an extra point, and at least one field goal, but, again, incredibly, our defense held them without a touchdown, and we won 9 – 3.
In 1982, the conference schedule was supposed to be round robin, but the Suckeyes said they would not back out of any of their non-conference contracts, and so skipped playing a weak Minnesota squad.
Wisconsin came into the snakepit in the rain and stunned them, 6 – 0.
So, we came in at 8 and 0 in the conference, with Ohio at 6 – 1. The Rose Bowl was already clinched. Had the Buckeyes played and beaten the Gophers, would not have been so, but, their decision. And you know what they have for brains.
It rained most of the game, and we could not get a touchdown this time, losing 14 – 9. But Big Ten champs regardless. We lose, but our 8 - 1 record puts us ahead of the 7 - 1 Buckeyes.
So, I now have four trips, and four Rose Bowls.
The 1984 season being what it was, I skipped the trip that year, not wanting to endanger that perfect record.
1986, we are unbeaten, untied, and #2 in the nation for our last home game. Not worried about retaining the Jug, I am deer hunting in the Upper Peninsula when Ricky Foggie breaks lose for a 4th quarter 25 yard plus run leading to the winning score as the Gophers upset us.
That was the only run of longer than 25 yards that the defense alowed all season.
Undeterred by the loss, QB Jim Harbaugh guarantees a win over Ohio.
I go with a rookie, a friend from freshman year at West Quad Wenley House.
As we hit the border, I put the cruise control on 54. He protests loudly about how long it will take to get their at that speed.
I advise him it will take much longer if we go 56, because we will get a ticket. Does he think all those stories are fiction?
He says, the Ohio plated cars are all going 80 or 85 or 90, whizzing past us.
I say yes, they know they have immunity today.
Sure enough, he counts. Seven vehicles pulled over, all Michigan plates.
Being the pro, I make one trip around the stadium, checking the market, and tell him we can get a single for $50. He says that is too much, he will watch at a bar. I suggest that may be a more dangerous environment than the snakepit, but, he says he can buy beer there.
OK. I pick up a single, and stand at the top of the lower deck around the 40 yard line.
It is a gorgeous day, around 70 degrees. I think Jamie Morris has 26 carries, and Spielman has 24 tackles; they are bumping into each other all afternoon.
McMurtry loses a TD pass in the sun on our first possession, or I think we would have smoked them.
With a 26-24 lead, the Suckeyes line up for a game winning field goal attempt, about 43 yards.
I do not have a good feeling about this, but, all the Buckeye fans are screaming to go for it on 4th and long, with absolutely no confidence their guy can make the kick.
Fortunately, they are correct.
Harbaugh is right, we win, I am now 4 – 1 with 5 Rose Bowls in five trips to Columbus.
We go on to lose the Rose Bowl to Arizona State, coached by one John Cooper. The only blemishes on their record, one loss, and a season ending tie with arch-rival Arizona which put them out of the national championship picture.
In another year, tired of losing to Wisconsin, which is a quote from the Ohio AD, and thinking Cooper is a coach who can beat us, they eventually fire Bruce and hire Cooper.
They should have checked his record in season ending rivalry games, as he never beat Arizona.
And let us all be grateful: we are not Buckeyes.
Inspired by a comment in this morning's diary, I have decided to supplement today’s analysis of the Michigan offense through the last decade of so with some snapshots of the Michigan rushing offense in comparison to the conference average.
The one thing which will undoubtedly strike virtually everyone on this board is something that has been termed rather succinctly “The Denard Effect”, and indeed it is apparently in what would be, by conference standards, an abnormal and abrupt increase in Michigan’s productivity on the ground. Granted, it has decreased this season because of the offense shifting to a West Coast style, offensive line play, Denard’s injury and other factors, but it can be seen here that our ground game has been statistically very good in the conference.
Another thing that is rather interesting to me is the fact that we gave many carries to RBs (and later QBs) most years, but until recently, we have more or less piggybacked the conference average for yards per carry. We were doing more to get the same result essentially, and this is also reflected somewhat when you look at net yards – fairly average until the “Denarding”, if you will.
Someone also brought this up in my earlier diary, but the averages do smooth out quite a bit of individual variation among teams. Indeed, in passing as well as rushing, there are teams with far more interesting stories when it comes to upswings and downswings in productivity than Michigan actually.
Michigan Rushing - Total Carries - 2001-2012 (to date):
Michigan Rushing - Net Rushing Yards - 2001-2012 (to date):
Michigan Rushing - Average YPC - 2001-2012 (to date):
Michigan Rushing - Rushing TDs - 2001-2012 (to date):
Video rendition of http://mgoblog.com/content/picture-pages-one-step. Analysis courtesy Brian.
Currently the B1G and SEC are in a bit of a scheduling crisis as they transition from 10 team conferences to 16 team superconferences. One problem with this is many annual, traditional conference opponents play in a seperate division now, and many rivals go several years without facing each other, even though they belong to the same conference. Another problem is the scheduling of "gimmie games" that occasionally provide miraculous upsets, but are usually guaranteed to be uninspiring blowouts in the hosts favor. As Conferences expand from 8, to 10, to 12, 14, and even 16 teams, and the implimentation of a postseason playoff system is fast approaching, we could end up having no choice but to address these two problems.
Hypothetically: If the B1G expanded to 16 teams, and Michigan continued to play 4 out-of-conference games each year, plus it's 1 protected game against the Buckeyes, then we would never play another cross divisional opponent outside of a Conference Championship game again. We'd play 7 games in our Division, The Game, and 4 games against Western, Eastern, UConn, and Utah, and that makes 12.
It's possible to add another regular season game, maybe 2, to rotate in 7 of the B1G teams we'd otherwise never face on a semiannual basis, but it's highly impractical. Schools like Michigan, with postseason play in mind, look to play a Conference Championship game, and 2, or maybe 3 postseason games every year, if/when they expand it. This already already puts us at a 14-15 game season, adding 1 or 2 more and potentailly playing 17 games for the sake of keeping 4 realtively meaningless ones is just silly, and many B1G matchups would still be rare.
Eliminating out-of-conference play in favor of cross-Divisional play would be an easy solution. Even if we played 1 marquee O.O.C. matchup each year, plus our 1 protected game, we'd be able to rotate 3 of our 7 remaining B1G opponents each season. That'd mean even if we don't play in the B1G Championship Game we'd be guaranteed to face all our Conference members every 3 years, with the possibility of that happening every 2 years, sometimes replaying Cross Divisional opponents in the B1G Championship.
Another reason for eliminating creampuff scheduling in favor of cross-divisional scheduling is that the new playoff system takes strength of schedule into account when picking at-large teams to participate. Playing the likes of Wisconsin, and Penn State is much more prestigious, and would look much better on a postseason resume, than playing UNLV, and BYU instead, not to mention the revenue playing a B1G team generates compared to paying MAC schools a million dollars to come lose to us.
Say in a few seasons LSU has 2 quality losses, but the SEC West in general is having a down year, if they played 4 FCS schools, and only played Missouri and Kentucky, or Vanderbilt, and Tennessee from the SEC East, then their S.O.S. might prevent them from getting one of the few at-large births into the postseason in favor of a, say, 1 loss Georgia, who they could handily beat, but didn't play. Same goes for ND. If they lose to Stanford and USC in a year where they only play the 5 weak ACC teams, play Purdue and a few Big East teams over Michigan and Staee, and schedule Service Academies over the likes of Oklahoma (plus don't participate in any Conference Championship) then any 1 loss team, or 2 loss team with quality wins, will get taken over them for an at-large birth, and they'll be out of the postseason.
It would be in Michigans best interest to play as many of our cross-divisional opponents as possible, not only to enhace our S.O.S. by not playing non AQ teams, but to maintain our ties with all the B1G schools, enhance our S.O.S. over other schools with similar records, and to prevent an at-large spot from going to a cross divisional opponent we didn't play that year. We're already choosing to play Central, Akron, and ND over Penn State, Purdue, and Wisonsin next year, we should at the very least trade 1 of our OOC games for more B1G play, now. Very soon we could be choosing between them and any Leaders Division opponents at all.