I GET IT
The top three teams remain intact, with blowout wins in Lubbock (#2 Oklahoma State) and Baton Rouge (#1 LSU). The Crimson Tide also picked up a win in Starkville. Other than that, much is uncertain, as Oregon moved up, Stanford moved down, Oklahoma moved up, and Boise State moved down. If LSU wins out and Oklahoma State loses, a rematch could take place in the national title (with either Alabama or Oregon). We haven’t seen this in awhile: Four games involving FBS and FCS opponents this week.
As typical with the Watch, we’ll review the picks from last week, noting the bad picks, and point out a few games to give the underdog some credit in, even if it is only in Vegas. We’ll also look at a sure-fire favorite and attempt to preview the Michigan game.
Be sure to check out my website, Before Visiting the Sportsbook, throughout the week, for more content.
Western Kentucky (5-5) +41.5 @ LSU (10-0). Result: LSU 42 Western Kentucky 9.
Miami Florida (5-5) +9.0 @ Florida State (7-3). Result: Florida State 23 Miami Florida 19.
Kentucky (4-6) +13.0 @ Vanderbilt (5-5). Result: Vanderbilt 38 Kentucky 8.
Washington (6-4) +12.5 @ USC (8-2). Result: USC 40 Washington 17.
@ Mississippi (2-8) +2.5 Louisiana Tech (6-4). Result: Louisiana Tech 27 Ole Miss 7.
@ SMU (6-4) -8.5 Navy (4-6). Result: Navy 24 SMU 17.
@ Illinois (6-4) +1.5 Michigan (8-2). Result: Michigan 31 Illinois 14 [Props to MichNukeEng for correctly predicting that Michigan would cover]
Number 7 chipped in on two picks, with Virginia (-9.5, 31-21) and Missouri (+1, 17-5).
Trebor loves his favorites, see Michigan State (-2.5, 37-21) but an underdog cam through for him, in Oregon (+3.5, 53-30).
Northern Illinois is playing on national television for the third straight week on a Tuesday night; however, they are at home this week, playing host to Ball State (8:00 PM EST/ESPNU). Ohio teams dominate ESPN coverage on Wednesday, with Ohio visiting Bowling Green (8:00 PM EST/ESPN/ESPN3) and Western Michigan visiting Miami (OH) (8:00 PM/EST/ESPN2/ESPN3). Thursday brings us a pair of top 25 teams putting their rankings on the line, with (#20) Southern Miss visiting Legion Field, for a matchup with UAB (8:00 PM EST); North Carolina visits Lane Stadium, for a showdown with (#8) Virginia Tech (8:00 PM EST/ESPN/ESPN 3D(!)/ESPN3). (#2) Oklahoma State’s (nearly) point-a-minute offense takes the field Friday night at Iowa State (8:00 PM/EST/ESPN/ESPN3), knowing Bedlam looms; Toledo visits MAC West rival Central Michigan (8:00 PM/EST/ESPNU).
Only three games involving top 25 teams with week, again. (#18) Michigan hosts (#16) Nebraska in a Legends/Bo Division matchup (12:00 PM/EST/ESPN/ESPN3). (#5) Oklahoma puts their BCS bowl hopes on the line, visiting Waco (8:00 PM/EST/ABC); Baylor has never defeated Oklahoma (0-20). We’ll stay in the Big 12, at the same time, but different station, with (#13) Kansas State visiting (#23) Texas (8:00 PM/EST/FX); Kansas State has won three straight dating back to 2006.
@ Rutgers (7-3) +3.0 Cincinnati (7-2). The Scarlet Knights are 105th in total offense (118th rushing, 61st passing); Cincinnati is 40th (31st rushing, 66th passing). Rutgers is 21st in total defense (58th rushing, 11th passing); the Bearcats are 50th (2nd rushing, 115th passing). Rutgers is 2-4 ATS since 2005 against Cincinnati (1-5 SU). Cincinnati Coach Butch Jones is 11-10 at Cincinnati (9-12 ATS, 7-7 ATS as a favorite); Rutgers Coach Greg Schiano is 66-66 at Rutgers (67-56-1 ATS, 40-29-1 ATS as an underdog). Cincinnati will likely be without QB Zach Collaros (1854 passing yards, 63.4% completion, 14 passing TDs, but 8 INTs), who was on crutches at the end of the loss to West Virginia, last week. Sophomore Munchie Legaux (205 passing yards, 53.6% completion, 1 INT) will likely be under center for the Bearcats. Rutgers run defense against Cincinnati’s run offense is a bad matchup for the Bearcats, as is Cincinnati’s pass defense against Rutgers’ pass offense. Collaros is the second best quarterback in the Big East, needless to say, he’s a huge loss. Take Rutgers to cover, and win.
Kansas State (8-2) +9.5 @ Texas (6-3)The Wildcats are 85th in total offense (22nd rushing, 109th passing); Texas is 44th (15th rushing, 92nd passing). Kansas State is 82nd in total defense (25th rushing, 117th passing); the Longhorns are 14th (10th rushing, 48th passing). Since 1997, Kansas State is 5-2 SU against Texas (5-1 ATS). Since 2001, Texas Coach Mack Brown is 112-26 at Texas (69-65-3 ATS, 55-47-2 ATS as a favorite); Kansas State Coach Bill Snyder is 58-39 at Kansas State (51-39 ATS, 21-10 ATS as an underdog). In conference play, Texas has averaged 182.17 yards through the air (153.75 yards in the last four games). Against top 10 passing offenses, Kansas State is 1-2. Texas is not a top 10 passing offense by any means. Kansas State is 6-1 ATS as an underdog this year. Take Kansas State to cover.
@ Washington State (4-6) +3.5 Utah (6-4). The Cougars are 38th in total offense (103rd rushing, 9th passing); Utah is 109th (79th rushing, 102nd passing). Washington State is 84th in total defense (63rd rushing, 94th passing); the Utes are 27th (9th rushing, 76th passing). Since 1999, Washington State is 1-1 SU against Utah (1-1 ATS). Washington State Coach Paul Wulff is 9-38 at Washington State (22-24 ATS, 19-22 ATS as an underdog); Utah Coach Kyle Whittingham is 63-24 at Utah (39-34-2 ATS, 26-25-2 ATS as a favorite). Against teams with top 50 offenses, Utah is 3-1 against pass offenses outside the top 50, but only 2-3 against top 50 passing offenses. Washington State is 0-5 against top 50 rushing offenses, but 3-1 against rushing offenses outside the top 50. Take Washington State with the points.
Florida International (6-4) +1.5 @ UL Monroe (3-7).The Golden Panthers are 72nd in total offense (69th rushing, 68th passing); UL Monroe is 61st (70th rushing, 53rd passing). Florida International is 30th in total defense (34th rushing, 56th passing); the Warhawks are 31st (11th rushing, 83rd passing). Florida International is 2-5 SU against UL Monroe since 2004 (2-5 ATS). Florida International Coach Mario Cristobal is 22-37 at Florida International (29-30 ATS, 18-16 ATS as an underdog); UL Monroe Coach Todd Berry is 8-14 at UL Monroe (10-11-1 ATS, 3-4-1 ATS as a favorite). Florida International has averaged 25.6 points on the year (26.8 in conference, but only 16 in the previous three games before a 41-7 win last week). UL Monroe has averaged giving up 27.7 points game (25.5 in conference). Florida International has more talent and should win, but WR T.Y. Hilton (858 receiving yards, 15.1/catch, and 5 receiving TDs) needs to be productive; Hilton has averaged 54.25 yards in the last four games with 1 TD (2-2). Take Florida International with the points, and to win.
@ East Carolina (4-6) +7.0 Central Florida (4-6).The Pirates are 58th in total offense (112th rushing, 17th passing); Central Florida is 49th (51st rushing, 47th passing). East Carolina is 58th in total defense (89th rushing, 19th passing); the Knights are 10th (16th rushing, 18th passing). Since 2005, East Carolina is 4-2 SU against Central Florida (2-4 ATS). East Carolina Coach Ruffin McNeill is 10-13 at East Carolina (12-11 ATS, 8-7 ATS as an underdog); Central Florida Coach George O’Leary is 49-50 at Central Florida (52-43-1 ATS, 24-20-1 ATS as a favorite). UCF is 8-10 ATS as a road favorite under O’Leary. UCF is 3-2 when QB Jeff Godfrey (1745 passing yards, 68.5% completion, 4 passing TDs, but 3 INTs) rushes for a TD (1-4 when he doesn’t). ECU is 1-4 when QB Dominique Davis (2737 passing yards, 68.2% completion, 18 passing TDs, but 15 INTs) throws two or more interceptions (3-2 when one or none). UCF has largely been a disappointment this year. Under McNeill, the Pirates are 4-4 ATS as a home underdog (3-5 SU). Take East Carolina to cover the points.
Navy -4.5 (4-6) @ San Jose State (3-7).The Midshipmen are 47th in total offense (2nd rushing, 119th passing); San Jose State is 83rd (108th rushing, 35th passing). Navy is 85th in total defense (82nd rushing, 67th passing); the Spartans are 98th (103rd rushing, 65th passing). This is the first ever meeting between these teams. A win for Navy preserves their chances of making their 9th straight bowl game. Navy Coach Ken Niumatalolo is 31-19 at Navy (25-22-1 ATS, 9-12-1 ATS as a favorite); San Jose State Coach Mike McIntyre is 4-19 at San Jose State (11-12 ATS, 11-7 ATS as an underdog). San Jose State is 6-2 ATS as an underdog this year; Navy is 3-3 ATS as a favorite. Navy is 4-5 against non-service academies this year (2002 was the last year Navy had a losing record against non-service academies; since 2002, Navy is 16-3 against service academies). Against teams with top 60 run defenses, Navy is 1-4 this year (1-2 against teams outside the top 60 run defenses). Take Navy to cover.
Bo Pelini is 37-14 straight up at Nebraska. Coach Pelini is 11-4 on the road (3-1 this year), 21-11 in conference play (4-2 this year), and 7-8 against the top 25 (2-1 this year). Coach Pelini is 26-24-1 ATS and 11-13 as an underdog ATS (2-2 underdog ATS on the road).
Brady Hoke is 55-52 straight up (13-12 at San Diego State, 34-38 at Ball State). Coach Hoke is 60-42-3 ATS and 32-17-2 against the spread as a favorite.
Nebraska’s defense is ranked 38th (21st passing [190.70 yards/game], 66th rushing [161.30 yards/game]). Michigan’s offense is ranked 33rd (84th passing [200.40 yards/game], 11th rushing [235.89 yards/game]).
Nebraska’s offense is ranked 50th (101st passing [171.40 yards/game], 13th rushing [232.70 yards/game]). Michigan’s defense is ranked 17th (22nd passing [191.33 yards/game], 41st rushing [130.89 yards/game]).
Since 1997, Michigan is 0-1 straight up against Nebraska (0-1 ATS), with the lone meeting being in the 2005 Alamo Bowl. Michigan had averaged 400 offensive yards with 270 of those being passing and 130 rushing.
Nebraska is second in the Big Ten in average points per game, with 32.9 (Wisconsin leads with 46.5); Michigan averages 32.5, good for third. Against teams in the top half of the Big Ten in average points per game, Michigan is 1-2 (3-0 against the bottom half); Nebraska is 1-2 against the top half (3-0 against the bottom half).
Nebraska is 36th in the country in scoring defense, allowing an average of 22.20 points per game, good enough for 7th in the Big Ten; Michigan is 7th in the country, allowing an average of 16.11 points per game, good enough for 3rd in the Big Ten. Nebraska’s defense has forced 15 turnovers to date (8 interceptions and 7 fumbles); Michigan’s defense has forced 20 turnovers to date (6 interceptions and 14 fumbles).
Michigan will need to contain Nebraska’s two biggest rushers on the ground: QB Taylor Martinez (768 rushing yards, 5.0/carry, and 9 rushing TDs) and RB Rex Burkhead (1072 rushing yards, 5.1/carry, and 14 rushing TDs). The duo combined for 221 rushing yards and 2 rushing TDs against Ohio, 153 rushing yards and 2 rushing TDs against Michigan State, and 177 rushing yards and 1 rushing TD against Penn State. Burkhead has had six 100+ rushing yard games this season (four of six games in Big Ten with seven rushing TDs in Big Ten, at least one per game; averaging 108.67 rushing yards per game in Big Ten).
@ Michigan -3 Nebraska.
Michigan 24 Nebraska 14.
Who ya got?
[ED: Bump so hard. ]
FF 210 - Screen Package
FF400 - Drag and Follow
So this is what I had intended to do with the series when I started it: breaking down plays/concepts that Michigan runs and why they work, how to defend/attack them, etc. Today I’m going to break down a pass play that Michigan ran twice for first downs in the first half. This is a great play that isn’t necessarily innovative anymore, but it is still very prevalent both the college and pro game. It’s called the drag (jerk) and follow pattern.
What I will be doing today is going over this play and how and why it was successful twice against Illinois. I will also discuss how defenses scheme against it in order to stop it, plays to counter those defensive adjustments, and why Michigan went away from it when it was successful early.
The Play – Drag and Follow
This is a great play because it does two things. It gives both the QB and WR easy reads and it always makes the defense wrong, essentially putting them out of position.*
Note, I have done a fairly simple defensive alignment that isn't really that technically sound to face the run. It is an even front with the SS back. This isn't bad against the pass but against the run it would probably suffer. There are many different variations of D, and I some what change the D alignment to help prove my point. It is important to realize that the keys are still there though, I'm just attempting to teach as simply as possible, so the defense isn't always the same.
Notice the label for each receiver and the Zip presnap motion (into the formation) by the Z receiver. On defense, N is the Nickelback (don't hate me, hate the Lions) subbed in for the SAM.
The Read – Backside LB
The QB will read the backside LB (WLB).
If the he follows the drag route, it will leave the delayed follow route open in the space that that LB previous occupied. You see this the first time Michigan ran this play against Illinois.
The LB attacks downhill at the drag pattern leaving an opening where he previously was.
Year To Date Summary: For the first ten games, Michigan's +4 TOM has resulted in a whopping advantage of 35 expected points – or almost 9 EP per turnover! With an average value per TO of just 3.68 EP (for all the TOs in M games this year), this would seem to be mathematically impossible. It is explained by the following:
(1) M has returned 3 TOs for touchdowns and the opponents have returned only 1 TO for a touchdown resulting in an additional 11.8 EP (versus simply gaining the TO).
(2) M has lost 5 fumbles but gained 16 and has lost 14 interceptions but gained just 7. On average fumbles are less costly than interceptions because interceptions occur further downfield and result in a lower field position disadvantage. The average EP for a fumble TO was 3.8 and the average value for an interception TO was 3.25 EP. This added 5.9 EP.
(3) M has the advantage over the opponent in all the following categories; TOs inside opponent 30 yard line, TOs inside your own 30 yard line, TOs on 3rd or 4th down (loss of possession would have resulted due to punt/over on downs regardless of TO). This added 2.6 EP.
Meaningless Turnover and Team Turnover: Michigan lost it's first meaningless turnover of the year when DRob threw the interception from the M44 with 0:02 seconds left in the first half. I have no clue why that play was even called. It just makes the interception stats for DRob look even worse. (Michigan had gained a meaningless turnover on the last play of the ND game.)
We also had our first "team" turnover – the bad snap to DRob at 11:59 of the third quarter. Illinois also had a bad snap during this game that was classified as a "team" turnover. I guess that means all bad snaps are not charged against either the QB or the center.
Synopsis for Turnovers: For the first time this year, the official turnover margin was zero. In reality, M had a +1 TOM because of the meaningless TO at the end of the half. For the year, Michigan has lost 19 TOs (ranked #78) but has gained 23 TOs (ranked #14) for a turnover margin of +4 or 0.40 per game (ranked #35). Michigan is ranked #9 in fumbles lost but is #111 in interceptions thrown. The 16 fumbles recovered is ranked #2 and is the reason the turnover margin is excellent instead of horrible.
McColgan recovered the Illini fumbled punt and there are now 18 different defensive players that have either forced a fumble, recovered a fumble, or intercepted a pass. Kovacs forced a fumble (his second), Gordon recovered a fumble (his fourth), and Floyd intercepted a pass (his second). DRob lost 2 fumbles and had the meaningless interception (his 13th).
M QBs had 16 turnovers thru ten games last year and have 17 turnovers thru ten games this year. After ten games, M had a –7 TOM last year and has a +4 TOM this year. This +11 differential in TOM has resulted in just one additional win over the ten games.
(See the Section on Gory Details below for how the adjustment for Expected Points (EP) is calculated.)
National Rankings: Remember the chart and table below includes the WMU game and will NOT be the same as the (incorrect) NCAA Rankings.
The Gory Details
Details for Turnovers: Here is overall summary for all games by player (data in yellow was affected by this week's game).
Expected Point (EP) Analysis: Basically, the probability of scoring depends on the line of scrimmage for the offense. Therefore, the impact of a TO also depends on the yard line where the TO is lost and the yard line where the TO is gained. Each turnover may result in an immediate lost opportunity for the team committing the TO and a potential gain in field position by the opponent. Both of these components can vary dramatically based upon the down when the TO occurred, the yards the TO is returned, and whether the TO was a fumble or an interception.
Here are the details for the game.
The analysis is a bit tricky because: (A) the TO may directly result in lost EP for the offense but (B) only modifies the EP for the team gaining the TO because the team gaining the TO would have gotten another possession even without the TO (due to a punt, KO after a TD, KO after a field goal, etc.). The Net EP Gain must take into account the potential EP gain without the TO. The EP gain without the turnover is based on where the field position would have been for the next possession if the TO had not occurred.
The expected point calculations are based on data from Brian Fremeau at BCFToys (he also posts at Football Outsiders). Fremeau's data reflects all offensive possessions played in 2007-2010 FBS vs. FBS games. I "smoothed" the actual data.
Here is a summary of the smoothed expected points.
Hey, Seth created the cupcakes tag for me, so I'm beating this dead horse until the end of the season. This week, we go Ugly, Old School. That's it, I refuse to acknowledge the existence of the mid-week MAC games. They're not games. They're the old football games where the pieces would buzz around the board. They're Rock-em-Sock-em Robots. They're monkey boxing. You know, these guys
I mean, Western and Toledo scored 129 points. If you were playing a drinking game where you had to do a shot on every turnover, you'd be dead.
Florida Atlantic is the last school without a win this season. Here's their season stats: passing yards - 111th, rushing yards - 115th, points for - 120th, points against - 107. In addition, they are playing Troy, who is no slouch themselves. "Don't sell yourself short, you're an incredible slouch." Troy has two wins, against Middle Tennessee and UAB, and is also right around the 100 mark in points for and against. Why are there so many schools named Owls? Who thinks owls are menacing? (Sorry about the links, embedding is disabled for some reason).
Speaking of Owls, Rice plays Tulane. Rice is 2-4 in conference and coming off a drubbing by Northwestern. Tulane just got pantsed by Houston, 73-17. The last competitive game they played was against Syracuse, which says a lot about Syracuse. They've lost 8 straight conference games. I think this one comes down to logo, and if you squint, the Rice "R" looks like an owl facing left. So advantage Owls. "A flute without holes, is not a flute. A donut without a hole, is a Danish."
Last, we have an "I Have No Idea" game between Penn State and Ohio State. Does Penn State deserve their #12 ranking? Is Ohio State better or worse than 6-4? Can either team move the ball far enough to kick a field goal, or will we see a "Fair Catch Kick" decide the game 3-0? "Oh, this is the worst-looking hat I ever saw. What, when you buy a hat like this I bet you get a free bowl of soup, huh? "
Thanks to MGoUser Enjoy Life, my attention was drawn to the statistics available on mgoblue.com. This has allowed me to increase the historical depth of my analysis. (As usual, click on each graph to embiggen).
We'll begin with scoring defense, the strength of this year's defense. (I've removed the numbers from the WMU game):
This is incredibly impressive, especially given that this defense isn't nearly as good when it comes to yards per play:
Although the average yards per play have improved (note especially how much better we are against the pass), they are still not as good as the averages from the Carr years, which basically were 5.0 yars per play or better (excepting 2000).
Finally, here are the statistics for total yards per game. In order to make the curves comparable, I've expressed each as a percentage of the 2010 stastics. The drop-off is pretty intense. (Yes, those numbers from 2006 are right. Michigan allowed 43 rushing yards per game that year.)
The overall result is that this defense is (overall) about average for a Michigan defense during this span:
avg per rush
avg rush per game
average per pass
avg pass per game
average per play
average per game
Here is a link to my spreadsheet, based on the statistics from mgoblue.com.
So another week gone by and another win by the boys in the winged helmets. Hooray for nobody selecting Michigan lower than the Outback! Although now nobody is selecting Michigan in the BCS, either.
The chart shows the MNC and all BCS bowl game projections, followed by the Big Ten bowl game projections.
|Week 11||Rittenberg||Schlabach||Edwards||CBS Sports||CNNSI||BTN||CFN|
|Ok State||Ok State||Oklahoma||Ok State||Oklahoma|
|Fiesta||Nebraska||Oklahoma||Oklahoma||Ok State||Oklahoma||Ok State|
|S Carolina||S Carolina||Georgia||S Carolina||S Carolina||Georgia|
|Gator||Penn St||Penn St||osu||osu||osu||osu||Nebraska|
|Care Care||Iowa||osu||Penn St||Purdue||Penn St||Penn St||Penn St|
|New Era Pinstripe||NW||Iowa||Purdue|
|Kraft Fight Hunger||NW||NW|
|New Mexico Bowl||Iowa|
So yeah, that's a big chart. You can see Michigan bolded throughout. The big changes for U-M are that Dienhart no longer has Michigan in the TicketCity, Rittenberg elevates us from the Insight to the Outback, and Palm drops us from the Fiesta to the Outback. Potential bowl opponents include Georgia, South Carolina, and Arkansas.
Rittenberg is now the only one to have a Big Ten team earn an at-large BCS berth (Nebraska to the Fiesta). Last week, Rittenberg had msu-Rose and Wisco-Sugar, and Palm had Wisco-Rose and Michigan-Fiesta.
Everyone has Wisconsin to the Rose, except Schlabach, who sticks with msu. Speaking of msu, they're predicted in the Rose (1), Cap1 (3), Outback (1), and Insight (2). Michigan, on the other hand, is pretty much a concensus at the Cap1 (2) or Outback (5).
Of note is that several of these guys are predicting 10 Big Ten teams to be bowl eligible: Wisconsin, Michigan, Nebraska, msu, Penn St, osu, Illinois, Iowa, Purdue, and Northwestern. There is a clear top half and botom half, but that's just crazy, man. That's why you're seeing random bowl games like New Era Pinstripe, Kraft Fight Hunger, and New Mexico Bowl. Rittenberg can't commit, so he just puts Illinois in "Other".