B1G, if true
As I watched Game 3 of the ALDS, Yankees @ Tigers the other day, a thought began to pour over me. It reached its peak at the conclusion of the 5th inning.
Superman was beating the tar out of Doomsday. One of the few adversaries with a good chance to fight back, and it was fast becoming a good old fashioned ass kicking. Blow after blow planted squarely and fiercely in the vulnerable midsection; too fast, too powerful, too perfect for even the faintest glimmer of hope to fight back. In just ten punches, the Man of Steel had defeated evil with grace, style, perfect technique and raw power seen only beneath blue moons and in the wildest of dreams. The MVP was king of the mound, high protector of Detroit and all that is good and right in the world. A man of inhuman power and ability. A banner for truth, justice and Victory. I swear that I saw his cape fluttering in the breeze as the crowd stood together to cheer their savior, dumbstruck but to awe his power. The only question was would Doomsday even bother to pick himself up and take the rest of the beating he so rightfully had coming to him?
Welcome, sports fan, to the rationality juncture. The rationality juncture permeates our lives nearly completely. Anywhere a conflict, struggle or challenge exists that we are party to, we often end up standing before the rationality juncture, forced to pick a route. You and I both know, rationally, that the big gainer stock won’t rise forever. Conversely, rationally, we know that the economy will not perpetually tank. We know if we keep driving too fast through the hairpins, we will skid out. We know if we stick to our diet and exercise, the pounds will start to come off. We knew, rationally, that Verlander was not going to strike out 12 more batters and that things would get tight in the game. We knew that Doomsday could punch back.
That night we stood at the rationality juncture with a decision to make. Do we turn down the rational path, applaud lightly, but expect change and thereby minimize disappointment? Or do we walk straight ahead, sucking great lung-fuls of air to scream out our hero’s name? Do we expect a fight back, or do we ready our cameras for the next superhuman volley? Do we accept the chance of failure or cheer the certainty of success?
Sports fans in Michigan have spent a lot of time becoming exceedingly familiar with the rationality juncture as of late. Its twists and bends, various and diverse ways it presents itself, and its ability to inflict massive pain or incredible pleasure, or both have become common to us. It can be lightning quick (Did that play just destroy all hope?) or season long (Will the Lions go undefeated to the Superbowl?). Should we be rational and accept that it was just one play, or should we start the pity party now? Do we want to remember that the Lions are still young and will lose, or do we want to ready our Superbowl party guest list?
U of M fans stand at a unique and far reaching juncture. We’ve been to this party before. And undefeated start against overmatched opponents with a bit of luck and a lot of Denard magic. The rationality juncture stands screaming before us.
“Don’t take that road! It leads to self-delusion and eventual heartache!”
Buckeye fans now understand. They stayed straight where the rationality juncture turned, and now they’re looking for someone (Jim Bollman?) to throw their disillusionment at every time Joe Bauserman throws a pass at air. It would have been much easier to begin with tempered expectations.
Our QB is magic. Our coordinators are the best money can buy. Our coach excretes precious metals.
Our QB is magic. Our coach is a true innovator. Our team is so fast and perfectly built for our offense.
Do you not see the rationality juncture crying out, “Stop This Insanity”?
I saw Verlander’s flowing red cape. I also saw 2 runs in the first and a murderous lineup. I saw what was rational. I still believed in the cape. For all the reasons, right and wrong, sensible and ridiculous, I believed in a superhero.
The contributors of this blog will give you the numbers. They are an interesting and fascinating way to get a handle on a game or a season. They, quite effectively, tell us why something happened. They’re getting better at projecting what will happen. They are giant road signs pointing down the turn-off at the rationality juncture. But they are not why we are sports fans.
We are fans because we believed that a five foot ninja could stop North Dakota. We are fans because we believed Darius Morris would shoot successfully. We are fans because we believed in 30 seconds.
Some of these beliefs left us overjoyed. Some left us heartbroken. The rationality juncture pointed us away from all of them. And nothing could be sadder than believing that D-Mo would find iron or the clock would run out.
The team is 5-0, again. The rationality juncture beckons you to turn. Go Straight.
Believe in Superheroes.
In a previous UV, Brian called out one of Brandon’s chief marketers for saying that the players were the customers. In the UV of Oct 4, I commented that maybe the players ARE the customers. This got a few positive responses and a few negative responses. I want to expand on this idea a bit.
I work in marketing. I just returned from an internal marketing meeting. One of the ideas that our Chief Marketing Officer drove home was “there is always competition - know your competition and you will know your market.” Let’s see how this fits into the college football space.
Let’s define the customer as the end user of a product or service. Fans fit this definition. A fan can be a warm body in the stands, a warm body watching the game on TV, a warm body buying merchandise, or some combination. These are the ways that fans are customers. Let’s assume that you are a fan and you are starting to get very stingy with your entertainment dollars. You will begin to look at the competition. What does that mean in terms of college football? Does it mean you will start going to Eastern games because they’re cheaper? No. Perhaps it means you will not renew your season tickets, or you will buy fewer t-shirts, or maybe you will cancel cable TV. If you do anything, you will trim your spending. You will not forego your love of Wolverine football. Realistically, then, very little competition exists for customers as end users. This is due to extreme brand loyalty.
If you were to define a customer as the end user of a product or service, then the fans are the customers and there is no competition. But there is always competition. I define a customer as somebody who will react to changing conditions/competition. Here, the fans are not customers because their brand loyalty is basically certain. Let me give you an example. When UM hired Brady Hoke, Brian (seemingly) was pretty upset. He was a supporter of Rich Rodriguez and the idea of the RR experiment. He had previously denounced Hoke as a crony. Yet when Hoke was announced as the hire, Brian didn’t vote with his feet. He didn’t become a fan of Purdue. His loyalty is certain. He is a fan from his youth and an alumnus. He is not going to start supporting the Buckeyes.
So the question becomes who CAN vote with their feet and respond to changing conditions? The answer is student athletes. When RR was hired there may have been much dissent among the fanbase, but I doubt too many began rooting for Ohio. Yet when RR was hired Justin Boren went to Ohio. I do not know of one Michigan fan who suddenly switched their allegiance to Arkansas upon the RR hire, but I do know of one player who did.
In the business model of college football, the revenue does ultimately come from the fans as paying customers. Because of bowls and merchandising, and demand for seats, that revenue is directly dependant on the competitiveness of the product on the field. Dave Brandon knows the athletic department can count on the brand loyalty of Michigan fans. The athletic department is competing with other schools for the talents of the student athletes.
Beaverton (OR) Aloha running back Thomas Tyner is one of the top overall prospects in the class of 2013, earning a five-star rating from 247Sports, four stars from Scout, and ESPN150 Watch List honors. Tyner already holds scholarship offers from Oregon, Oregon State, and USC, and has interest from Alabama, Stanford, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and, yes, Michigan.
In just four games this season, he has already amassed 700 rushing yards on 85 carries, and in his high school career he has 2.934 yards on 333 rushes and was the 2010 Class 6A Offensive Player of the Year as a sophomore. Tyner suffered a concussion that has held him out of Aloha's last two games, but he was kind enough to do an interview via Twitter (due to his injury, a phone interview was not an option). Tyner wanted me to make sure to shout out all his Michigan followers, and you can find him on Twitter @Thomas_Tyner. Here's my discussion with Thomas:
ACE: What teams have you been in contact with so far?
THOMAS: So far my mailbox has been getting loaded with letters, along with my football locker. I just recently received a offer from USC. A lot of the schools that have been sending me letters are questionnaires.
ACE: How much has Michigan been contacting you? (Any specific coaches?) Also, will distance be a factor in your recruitment?
THOMAS: During the school year one of the coaches came to school and we chatted. I forgot the name, but I am a family man. Michigan is a fantastic school though, so if the school has high enough ratings in athletics and academics, then it's a definite possibility.
ACE: Anything else specific that you're looking for in a possible school? Also, any idea when you'd want to narrow down leaders or make a choice?
THOMAS: A comfortable environment, and [a] comfortable and strong relationship with the coaches. I'll start making my top list next year (senior year).
ACE: How's your season going, what are your goals for the year, and how would you describe your game (strengths/weaknesses)?
THOMAS: My season's going well. I've been out 2 weeks due to a concussion. My strengths are delivering a hit and break away speed. My weakness, or something I could get better at is patience.
Thanks again to Thomas for taking the time for the interview, especially while recovering from his concussion. As evidenced by his ratings, he's definitely a big-time prospect to watch, and should draw major interest from the Wolverines.
The Little Brown Jug stays with Michigan, with a 58-0 victory, the most points scored by Michigan in the series since 1993. Michigan’s victory on Saturday was the largest ever margin of victory in the series. This week, Michigan hits the road to Evanston, to face the Northwestern Wildcats. Michigan holds a 52-15-2 advantage in the series, which began in 1892, with a 10-8 Northwestern win.
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 blog, Before Visiting the Sportsbook, throughout the week, for more content.
Arizona (1-4) +13.5 @ USC (4-1). Result: USC 48 Arizona 41 [Props to: M-Glow-Blue, Picktown GoBlue].
SMU (3-1) +11.5 @ TCU (3-2). Result: SMU 40 TCU 33 [Props to: M-Glow-Blue].
@ Indiana (1-4) +17.0 Penn State (4-1). Result: Penn State 16 Indiana 10 [Props to: Gulo Gulo Luscus].
Western Michigan (3-2) +3.0 @ Connecticut (2-3). Result: Western Michigan 38 Connecticut 31 [Props to: hajiblue72, Gulo Gulo Luscus, Picktown GoBlue].
Cincinnati (4-1) -13.5 @ Miami (OH) (0-4). Result: Cincinnati 27 Miami (OH) 0.
@ Michigan (5-0) -19.5 @ Minnesota (1-4). Result: Michigan 58 Minnesota 0 [Props to M-Glow-Blue, Picktown GoBlue].
Hawaii (3-2) +3.5 @ Louisiana Tech (1-4). Result: Hawaii 44 Louisiana Tech 26.
Washington topped Utah (31-14), despite being an underdog (+7.5), props to Gulo Gulo Luscus on the call.
Alabama (-6) blew out Florida, 38-10; Trebor and M-Glow-Blue took Alabama. Trebor also had Arkansas (+3), which rallied to beat Texas A&M in Jerryworld, 42-38.
Number 7 threw out Notre Dame to cover (-12), which they did easily in West Lafayette, 38-10. Number 7 also picked Pittsburgh to win, straight up, against South Florida, and they did, 44-17.
Week 5 kicks off with a game between PAC-12 North foes, California visits (#9) Oregon on Thursday (9:00 PM EST/ESPN). (#5) Boise State visits Fresno State, seeking to extend their 5 game series win streak on Friday (9:00 PM EST/ESPN).
Saturday football kicks off with the Red River Rivalry, (#3) Oklahoma and (#11) Texas (12:00 PM EST/ABC). Florida looks to replace injured QB John Brantley when they visit (#1) LSU in Death Valley (3:30 PM EST/CBS). Upstart (#15) Auburn faces another road test this week in a visit to (#10) Arkansas (7:00 PM EST/ESPN).
Iowa (3-1) +3.5 @ Penn State (4-1). Penn State ranks 80th in total offense (61st rushing, 66th passing). Penn State has lost LB Michael Mauti to a season ending injury. Despite Penn State’s QBs passing for 271 yards, it took 36 attempts, of which only 16 were completed. Since 1999, Iowa is 8-2 straight up against Penn State (Iowa is 8-2 against the spread against Penn State), including 4-1 at Penn State. The Nittany Lions are 0-5 against the spread this year. Since 2006, the Hawkeyes are 4-1 in their first conference road games against the spread (4-0 as an underdog in those same games against the spread). With the unstable QB situation in Happy Valley, take the Hawkeyes to cover, and win.
Air Force (3-1) +16.5 @ Notre Dame (3-2).The Irish lead the series, 22-6. Since 2000, the average margin of victory in the series favors Notre Dame by 4. Teams last met in 2007, in South Bend, with Air Force defeating the Irish, 41-24. The Falcons are only 1-3 against the spread this year, but 1-1 as an underdog; the Irish are 2-3 against the spread. Air Force is 6-4 against the spread, since 2006, coming off a game against a fellow service academy (6-2 under Coach Troy Calhoun). The triple option offense has given the Irish defense fits, giving up an average of 33.2 points per game in 5 games against Navy and Air Force, since 2007. Take Air Force to cover the points.
Wyoming (3-1) +11.0 @ Utah State (1-3). Wyoming has the 34th ranked offense (27th rushing, 53rd passing); Utah State the 23rd ranked offense (5th rushing, but 110th passing). Wyoming’s run defense is ranked 91st, but the 178.50 yard per game average can largely be chalked up to playing Nebraska (Cowboys gave up 333 yards on the ground). Utah State’s RB Robert Turbin (488 rushing yards, 6.7 ypc, and 9 TD) has had three consecutive 100-yard games this year. Since 2001, Wyoming is 4-0 straight up against Utah State and 3-1 against the spread (prior to 2001, the teams had not met since 1978). Average margin of victory for Wyoming is 18.25. Utah State’s offense was impressive against BYU last week, but the defense couldn’t stop the Cougars. Utah State is 0-4 against the spread coming off the BYU game, since 2006 (0-4 straight up). Take the Cowboys to keep this one close, if not beat, the Aggies.
@ Tennessee (3-1) +1.5 Georgia (3-2).The home team has won four straight in this series; Tennessee holds an 8-7 advantage since 1997. Tennessee has the 31st ranked offense (11th passing, but 97th rushing) Georgia the 52nd ranked offense (56th passing, 46th rushing). The Vols have now had two weeks to adjust to life without WR Justin Hunter, lost for the season to an ACL injury. Georgia’s pass defense is ranked 4th in the nation, but that is largely due to the Bulldogs facing run centered offenses (Kellen Moore threw for 261 yards in week 1 against Georgia). From 2001-2005, Georgia was 32-11 (4-1 against Tennessee) in SEC play under Coach Mark Richt. Since 2006, the Bulldogs are 23-17 in SEC play (2-3 against Tennessee). Coach Derek Dooley is 28-22-1 against the spread (9-7-1 against the spread at Tennessee). Tennessee is 5-2 against the spread versus Georgia, since 2004. Look for Georgia to come into Knoxville with a false sense of security, off back-to-back wins over the Mississippi schools, the worst teams in the SEC West. Take the Volunteers to knock off Georgia.
UNLV (1-3) +21.0 @ Nevada (2-2).The Battle for the Fremont Cannon. The Rebels haven’t beaten the Wolfpack since 2004. UNLV is 5-9 against the spread versus Nevada, since 1997. Nevada’s rushing offense is ranked 14th (offense ranked 57th) but UNLV’s run defense is ranked 38th; UNLV’s run offense is ranked 76th and Nevada’s run defense is ranked 101st. UNLV has already faced a tough run offense, opening the season at Wisconsin, and covering the 35 point spread. Since 2005, UNLV has been outscored, on average, by a score of 39-20 by Nevada. UNLV was outscored by an average score of 40-18 last year (32-25 in 2009 and 32-26 in 2008); this year, UNLV is being outscored by an average score of 43-20, facing the 8th (Wisconsin), 9th (Washington State) and 41st (Hawaii) ranked offenses. Nevada will extend their streak to seven straight over UNLV, but UNLV should keep it within 3 TDs.
Arizona State (4-1) -3.5 @ Utah (2-2).These teams last met in 1977. Sun Devils are 1-4 against the spread this year (1-3 as a favorite), but have been double digit favorites in three of those games (0-3 against the spread as a double digit favorite). Utah is 1-3 against the spread this year (1-1 as an underdog). Utah will be without starting QB Jordan Wynn for the next 2-3 weeks with a shoulder injury. Coach Dennis Erickson is 25-24-5 against the spread at Arizona State (16-13 as a favorite against the spread). Utah will be playing only their third game as a member of a BCS conference, and is looking for their first PAC-12 win. Since 2006, Utah is 7-4 against the spread versus BCS conference opponents. Utah is 87th in total offense and 91st in passing defense. Arizona State boasts the 27th best passing offense. Look for the Sun Devils and QB Brock Osweiler to cover the spread in Salt Lake City.
Pat Fitzgerald is 36-31 straight up at Northwestern. Coach Fitzgerald is 20-13 at home, 18-23 against the Big Ten, and 4-10 against the top 25. Coach Fitzgerald is 26-37-1 against the spread and 21-15-1 as an underdog against the spread.
Brady Hoke is 52-50 straight up (13-12 at San Diego State, 34-38 at Ball State). Coach Hoke is 27-15-2 against the spread as a favorite and 42-23-2 overall since 2006.
Northwestern’s defense is ranked 95th (81st passing [239.25 yards/game], 89th rushing [174.75 yards/game]). Michigan’s offense is ranked 15th (104th passing [168.20 yards/game], 9th rushing [270.0 yards/game])
Northwestern’s offense is ranked 75th (105th passing [167.00 yards/game], 24th rushing [207.75 yards/game]). Michigan’s defense is ranked 32nd (14th passing [175.25 yards/game], 65th rushing [150.25 yards/game]).
Since 1997, Michigan is 8-2 straight up against Northwestern (4-6 against the spread; Michigan has been a favorite in all but the 1999 game). Michigan has averaged 394.1 offensive yards (by contrast, they averaged 435 offensive yards against Minnesota), with 203.8 of those yards being passing (by contrast, they averaged 246.3 passing yards against Minnesota).
Ignore the awful rank of Northwestern run defense. The Wildcats gave up 82 yards on the ground to Illinois, 132 to Eastern Illinois, 104 to Boston College, but 381 to Army. Northwestern will not face another triple option offense in the regular season. Boston College was without their starting RB week 1, and Illinois was forced to pass from roughly the middle of the third quarter on, being down 28-10.
Throw out Northwestern’s passing stats, as well. QB Dan Persa (123 passing yards, 4 TD, 71.4% completion against Illinois) played his first game of 2011 this past Saturday, almost pulling off the upset in Champaign. In the process, he aggravated an Achilles injury; Persa indicated the injury will not keep him from playing against Michigan. Be on the look out for Northwestern using Persa and QB Kain Colter (427 passing yards, 66.1% completion, 1 passing TD, but 4 rushing TD and 266 rushing yards) on the field at the same time.
RB Mike Trumpy (182 rushing yards, 5.2/carry, and 1 TD) and WR Jeremy Ebert (230 receiving yards, 15.3/catch, and 5 TD) are legitimate threats. Three of Persa’s four TD passes were to Ebert on Saturday (the other was to TE Drake Dunsmore).
Michigan is going to need senior leadership from David Molk, Kevin Koger, Junior Hemingway, Ryan Van Bergen and Troy Woolfolk in order to pull off the road win. Assuming Persa plays, and he says he will, look for this one to be close.
@ Northwestern +7.5 Michigan.
Michigan 31 Northwestern 30
Who ya got?
Has Michigan faced a good offense? ND has big time turnover issues, WMU and EMU are both MAC teams (although WMU seems like a very good MAC team), SDSU didn't manage very much against us and Minnesota is possibly the worst BCS conference team this year.
I took a look at each opponent on our schedule and looked at their opponents total and scoring defenses, then took a look in each box score for total yards gained by our opponent as well as final score. I added total offense and scoring offense into a year to date chart and divided actual yardage/score by their expected performance based on opponents NCAA statistics. Here is an example of part one:
|WMU||TD Yardage||Yards||SD PPG||Points||Record|
|% of Normal||130||128|
FCS teams are excluded, and I'll get to the opponents win percentage later in the diary. You can see that WMU is outperforming their total offense expectation by about 130%, and their offense is scoring 128% above par. I did this for each of our twelve opponents, and have ranked each offense by performance percentage in both scoring and total, then I try to put a finger on exactly how well each has performed to date by including an average of the two with opponents record factored in. As I write this, I have not made those calculations and do not know how accurate the list will come out. Nevertheless, I will include it for discussion's sake.
Total offense vs. Expectation:
- ND 136%
- WMU 130%
- Nebraska 115%
- MSU 112%
- SDSU 110%
- Illinois 108%
- Iowa 107%
- Northwestern 99%
- OSU 93%
- EMU 88%
- Minnesota 87%
- Purdue 79%
Scoring offense vs. Expectation:
- ND 157%
- Nebraska 150%
- Iowa 142%
- WMU 128%
- SDSU 115%
- Northwestern 106%
- MSU 105%
- OSU 95%
- Illinois 92%
- EMU 79%
- Minnesota 72%
- Purdue 62%
Average offense vs. Expectation (list 1* list 2/2):
- ND 146.5%
- Nebraska 132.5%
- WMU 129%
- Iowa 124.5%
- SDSU 112.5%
- MSU 108.5%
- Northwestern 102.5%
- Illinois 100%
- OSU 94%
- EMU 83.5%
- Minnesota 79.5%
- Purdue 70.5%
Taking out our opponent's opponent's FCS games, here is my take on SOS for Michigan's opponents 2011, based on opponent win percentage:
- SDSU .692 (Army, Washington State, Michigan)
- ND .684 (USF, Michigan, MSU, Pitt, Purdue)
- WMU .647 (Michigan, CMU, Illinois, UConn)
- Nebraska .643 (Fresno State, Washington, Wyoming, Wisconsin)
- EMU .615 (Michigan, PSU, Akron)
- Minnesota .579 (USC, NMSU, Miami (NTM), Michigan)
- Iowa .571 (Iowa State, Pitt)
- Illinois .533 (Arkansas State, ASU, WMU, Northwestern)
- Northwestern .462 (BC, Army, Illinois)
- Purdue .429 (MTSU, Rice, ND)
- MSU .389 (FAU, ND, CMU, OSU)
- OSU .3 (Akron, Toledo, Miami, Colorado, MSU)
Putting both of these lists together to try and get a clear picture as to who shows up against better opposition, here we have:
This last list very well might be useless since it's double counting data (a good defense allows less yards, a good defense wins more games as a result), but I do think it best reflects my observations so far, all things considered.
- I'm neither a statistician nor a mathematician, I fully expect this to have some issues, and I'll do my best to correct them within the framework of this diary.
- Each team is counted towards the defensive statistics. I realize that with a sample size as small as three that can get problematic, but I didn't feel like I had too much of a choice due to data and time constraints.
Synopsis for Turnovers: For the second game this year, M had no turnovers (WMU was the other game). Michigan did have one fumble by Gardner but it was recovered by Smith. Minnesota had the only turnovers and Michigan ended the game with a +2 turnover margin. For the year, Michigan has lost 8 TOs (ranked #59) but gained 15 TOs (ranked #6) for a turnover margin of +7 or 1.40 per game (ranked #11).
For the third time this year, M returned a turnover for a touchdown. Three more players added their names to the takeaway list with Countess forcing a fumble, Johnson recovering a fumble, and Avery getting the scoop and score. Amazingly, there are now 15 different defensive players that have either forced a fumble, recovered a fumble, or intercepted a pass.
Synopsis for Expected Point (EP) Analysis: Obviously, turnovers did not impact which team won the game. I've added this table that summarizes expected points lost by TO's, expected points gained by opponent's TOs, the net EP due to TOs, and the adjusted score without turnovers.
(See the Section on Gory Details below for how the adjustment for Expected Points (EP) is calculated.)
National Rankings: Remember the 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.