at least it's not just us?
Due to a cornucopia of issues the past couple of weeks, I couldn’t post a recap of the Illinois or Purdue games until this week. But in honor of ending two-year losing streaks to programs and/or coaches that sorely were in need of some comeuppance, I bring you this weekend’s win in West Lafayette, plus other notable games, as told in movies all about desert best served cold.
The Little Engine That Couldn’t
Coming of an emotional and record-setting performance against Illinois that netted the Wolverines the all-important 6th win, all the talk was about UM’s prolific offense slicing through the Purdue defense like a through, um, a porous defense. Not only was Denard, Tate and co. riding a wave of momentum after dropping 67 on the Illini the week prior, but the sheer number of injuries suffered by Purdue’s defense over the year led most observers to conclude that only those with a (or at least a fond distaste for his ACL) would ever decide to line up in the Boilermaker’s secondary. On offense, Purdue’s once-competent stable of QBs had been reduced to one guy with a sliced finger throwing/hurling dump-offs to the 4th-string QB after UM Justin Siller limped off the field with a, you guessed it, lower-leg injury injury. Plus, Danny Hope and his Moostache was riding a two-game winning streak against RR and UM, highlighted by some infamous trash-talking/detachment from reality -ed from Roy Roundtree’s *shocking* decision to choose a team and school he liked (UM) over one he didn’t (Purdue), as well as RR’s gall to point out that players not wearing the Maize and Blue should be suspended for bad behavior on the field. Against that backdrop, it came as no surprise that UM was looking for against the Boilermakers, and more than a few UM faithful were hoping that the team left a or 40 on Purdue’s scoreboard in the process.
Justifying the fears of some that Purdue should not be for granted despite their glaring flaws, Purdue forced a Denard fumble on UM’s first drive and was poised to capitalize. UM fans, burned so often by this team’s penchant for playing down to the competition, were at the when the Craig Roh burst through the line and slapped the ball from Dan Dierking’s gritty grasp and Cam Gordon oh my go…oh my go…run! run you beautiful little freshman run! to the endzone for a defensive touchdown. UM quickly followed that up with another touchdown after a shanked punt and all seemed right in the world.
But then the skies opened up like a from the heavens, turning an already-cruddy field into soup and the ball into (apparently) the slipperiest pigskin ever used in organized football. The teams proceeded to combine for another 8 turnovers, 4 each, as neither offense was able to sustain any momentum. Denard returned the defensive TD favor with a 94-yard interception return by Ricardo Allen, and this prompted Chris Martin to ramble on incoherently for 5 minutes about stuff not related to the continuing play on the field. Ryan Kerrigan, pulling off his best Brandon Graham circa-2009 impression and sprinkled with the right amount of Tebow divinity, was a , continuously harassing UM’s QBs to the tune of 4 sacks and at least 1 forced fumble. Neither Tate nor Denard were overwhelmingly effective in the sloppy conditions, and the offense kept giving short fields to Purdue. And yet, the on the defense never gave in, holding Purdue to FGs and turnovers where even a single TD could have led to calamity. The teams kept trading possessions without much scoring, as UM maintained a healthy but certainly not safe lead late in the game.
In the 4th Quarter, Will Hagerup boomed a 72 yard punt deep into Purdue territory, which Purdue’s offense inside their own 10 yard line. After a couple of stalled drives, UM marched down the shortened field for a TD by Hopkins, making it a 2-score game that was effectively a for Purdue’s comeback hopes.
The immediate response to this game spoke volumes about the toll the last few seasons have taken on the fanbase’s psyche. Some fans, including one Rogaine-deficient writer, called for RR’s head after another 5-turnover affair, while others pointed to the team’s 7-3 record and the improved play of the offense as signs of life. Legitimate questions were raised about this team’s inability to HOLD ON TO THE DAMN BALL and Denard’s current passing ability, and a similar performance against Wisconsin or OSU will render swiftly RR’s offense from terrifying to . Still, while it took a to sit through this game, it was the type of game that UM used to always win under past regimes and yet was one that has eluded RR so far; a messy, field-position contest where the offense does just enough and the defense holds the fort. Yes, Purdue’s ineptitude on offense helped, but the game never felt in doubt and, for a fan who lived through the past couple of years, that is enough. The players, especially on defense, should be this week, and hopefully that confidence will translate to improved efforts the next two weeks.
Now having vanquished two of the more nagging thorns in UM’s recent history, fans may be left wondering to whom they should direct their pent-up anger and rage toward now? Should they re-double their focus on Tressel or Dantonio? Perhaps set out on a new crusade to (metaphorically) Plaschke for his idiotic tweeting about Denard? Personally, I’ve decided that with bowl eligibility assured and some stability finally being in place for my beloved but recently-maligned alma mater, it is time to enjoy college football in the fall, reconnect with friends and loved ones, and become a better person filled with love in his heart and a hop in his step. Oh yeah, and also keep hating on Cam Newton and the rest of the SEC. Those guys are still jerks.
And As For the Rest of the Weekend
* I can only presume that the Hoosier football team was holding Bret Bielema’s favorite windbreaker and/or Packer’s Cheesehead for , as he thoroughly demolished Indiana 83-20, including scoring 45 points in the second half (including one FG late in the 3rd quarter). Give me back my stuff! indeed.
* Texas, continuing its season-long hangover from last year’s MNC loss, were shellacked by Oklahoma St. 33-16 in a game that wasn’t even that close. At least Texas fans can take a in the fact that this loss won’t even break the top-5 worst losses for the season.
* Finally, the Wildcats of Northwestern scored another impressive win in its inexplicable rivalry with Iowa, taking the lead with a very late TD pass from resident Dan Persa who, as the gods demand, immediately tore approximately 1 million tendons in his ankle and is done for the season. It’s a major blow to Northwestern’s fortunes, yet proves that the Angry Purdue ACL Hating God is not afraid to turn its jaundiced eye to the rest of the Big 10 after it ran out of victims in West Lafayette.
Here's the list of recruits that will be on hand for Michigan's final home game. As always this list will grow and shrink as I confirm more people. Looks like this won't be too big of a weekend, but it will still be important. The two official visitors are both important to this class, and would help add some much needed help in key areas.
- LB/WR Kris Frost - Kris just got back from an Auburn visit that he really enjoyed. I think Michigan is still in the lead, but I did talk talk to Kris about Auburn after his trip. He said that Auburn is making things pretty difficult as far as who he wants to choose. Each visit they've done a better job of showing him where he would fit, and how much he likes it up there. This visit to Michigan will be very important for who he picks. His team does play at 7:30pm on Friday, but as of right now he is coming.
- TE Jack Tabb - Jack's team was eliminated from the playoffs, so he will be here.
- OL Jake Fisher (Commit)
- LB Ryan Petro - Florida linebacker, hearing from Michigan and a few other bigger schools, like Nebraska.
- OL Chris Bryant (Maybe) - He's figuring out if he can come
- LB Antonio Kinard (Maybe) - Kinard may be in this weekend. Figuring things out as we speak, should know soon obviously.
- RB Juwan Lewis - Muskegon running back plans on being there. Teammate of 2011 DT Damon Knox
- DT Danny O'Brien
Twelve Vandals Vandalizing? Twelve Aggies, um, agging? Also, I avoid picking on two teams in consecutive weeks only out of the goodness of my heart.
Western pulled out a barn-burner against Eastern, locking up second place in the MAC Trophy. Signs of life from the EMUs/Eagles/Hurons for next year? Both teams were +/- 500 yards of offense, but Eastern was a more grind-it-out than the Western air raid.
Speaking of track meets, Tulane beat Rice 54-49. Our boy Sam McGuffie had 15 carries for 71 yards and a TD for the Owls. I'm not sure what a Rice Owl looks like, but can't help but wonder if it's anything like a Corn Snake.
Last, Tennessee clobbered Ole Miss 52-14 and is now awarded the title of Tennessissippi. Karma continues to catch up to Jeff Masoli, and he was 7/18 for 80 yards and 3 INTs. Tennessee was up 21-0 after the first quarter, and cruised from there.
Rutgers plays Cincinnati for sole possession of the Big East basement. That's saying something given the way the Big East has gone this year. Rutgers has lost to North Carolina, and squeaked out close wins over the likes of Army and FIU. Cinci can't point and laugh at that resume, either. Since their close loss to Oklahoma, they've been pounded in conference by West Virginia and Syracuse. Rutgers is offensively challenged, and Cinci is equally fair-to-middlin' on both sides of the ball.
Out in the WAC (slogan: The WAC is the new MAC!), Idaho plays Utah State in another leg of the Mormon Bowl. Idaho got thumped, as expected, by Boise State last week. Utah State is on a two game win streak, but the wins are against New Mexico State and San Jose State. So that's like keeping count of the number of times you hit the floor when you drop a ball. Aww yeah, three in a row, baby!
This week's "Sir Not Appearing in this Diary" award goes to Eastern and Tennessee. Eastern plays Buffalo in what is sure to be an ugly game. For no reason other than sympathy, I'll avoid making that a game to watch (or, rather, not watch). Maybe it will be snowing as well. Tennessee versus Vanderbilt also avoids the eyeball for the week, if only because Tennessee seemed like an actual football team last week, and may just paste Vandy and move on.
One last note goes to Appalachian State against Florida in the "If There's a God, Smite The Gators" bowl. I've got no good way to handicap D-IA schools, but still, c'mon, karma!
OK, this isn't a hard-core statistical analysis like the Mathlete would do, just some fun with numbers. We have a rather bipolar team this year (Offense #5 in TO, Defense #105 in TD), and I thought it would be interesting to look at what our opponents' Total Offense and Total Defense stats would look like if they hadn't played us - and what kind of a difference it would make in their overall ranking of NCAA stats.
The NCAA stats are not linear, of course, and a difference of 1 yd/gm can be a large or small difference in rankings depending on how closly spaced everyone is. So as I cautioned, this isn't a hard-core statistical exercise. It is interesting to look back at the early games and see how well we did in comparison to what other teams ended up doing against them - what seemed like a good or bad performance at the time may look different in retrospect.
Part the First: Offense
We know our offense is great, but what kind of damage has it done to the Total Defense (TD) ratings of our opponents? Here they are thus far:
|Opponent||Games||Yards Yielded||Yds/gm||NCAA Rank|
What would these guys' defensive stats look like if they hadn't played Michigan?
|Opponent||Total Offense, M||
Opp. Avg - M,
M Total Offense,
*Opponents' average Total Defense yards per game, minus the Michigan game
**Michigan's Total Offense in game as a % of the opponent's average TD minus the Michigan game
So Michigan has gained above our opponents' average yardage yielded in every game thus far, and their TD ranking has suffered as a result. What's the damage?
|Opponent||TD Rank With M||TD Rank Without M||Difference|
Average change in Total Defense ranking for all opponents: -10.1 places.
Part the Second, Defense
So the flipside of this, then, is how much has our defensive suckitude helped out our opponents stat sheet? Where would they rank in TO without having played us? We'll run the same tables again, but from the opposite tack:
|Opponent||Games||Yards Gained||Yds/gm||NCAA Rank|
First thing that jumps out at me is that none of these are world-beater offenses thus far. They're functional and solid for the most part, but even the best is merely above average. We can't really blame our bad defensive performances on having come up against a bunch of awesome offenses. Anyway, how'd they do against us?
|Total Offense, Opp||
Opp. Avg - M,
Opp Total Offense,
% of Opp Avg - M**
* Opponents average offensive performance, minus the Michigan game
** Opponents TO as a percentage of their average offensive performance, minus the Michigan game
|Opponent||TO Rank With M||TO Rank Without M||Difference|
Average boost to opponents' Total Offense NCAA ranking: +7.1 places
So we've had four really bad defensive outings (ND, Ind., MSU, Ill.) and a four decent ones (UConn, Iowa, PU, BG). The PSU game doesn't look so bad from this perspective - still not good, but far from our worst outing when compared to others.
Part the Third: Summary
Michigan's O Difference
on Opp TD Ranking
Michigan's D Difference
on Opp TO Ranking
|Connecticut||-10||+1||W, Good O, OK D|
|Notre Dame||-10||+19||W, Good O, Terrible D|
|Bowling Green||-17||0||W, Awesome O, OK D|
|Indiana||-11||+14||W, Good O, Terrible D|
|Michigan State||-1||+16||L, OK O, Terrible D|
|Iowa||-10||-2||L, Good O, OK D|
|Penn State||-8||+4||L, Good O, Bad D|
|Illinois||-20||+14||W, Awesome O, Terrible D|
|Purdue||-4||-2||W, OK O, OK D|
Takeaways from these numbers (as opposed to other numbers or observations):
- We played well at Iowa and were beaten by a better team.
- We played badly against MSU on both sides of the ball; they might have beaten us anyway with good performances, but not likely.
- The loss to PSU doesn't look like such a bad outing from this angle. Maybe PSU is better than we gave them credit for.
- Awesome offense wins, terrible defense doesn't necessarily lose.
- Our offense is better at offending than our defense is bad at defending.
- Winning is more fun than losing.
Defying the Odds: With a Turn Over Margin (TOM) of minus 7, M has defied the odds with a current record of 7-3 and a guaranteed winning season. Only 28% of teams with a TOM of –4 or worse had records of 6-6 or better (basis: all FBS AQ (automatic qualifying) teams over the last 10 years).
Synopsis for Turnovers: OMG, WTF, and Arrrgghhhh! Yeah, the weather was ugly but, for the second game in a row, M gave it away 5 times. Thankfully, the D really stepped up in this game and got 5 takeaways of their own. Leaving a net TOM of –0-.
There were 2 meaningless TOs (one by each team) – the M interception by Rogers at the end of the first half on the Purdue Hail Mary and the Hopkins fumble on 4th and 1 (because the ball would have gone over on downs anyway). [EDIT: I went back and looked at the Hopkins fumble. The blocking was there and it definitely looks like he would have had the 1st down without the bad exchange.] There was 1 meaningless TO (the M interception of the Purdue Hail Mary at the half). In reality, M had a –1 TOM.
Denard had a terrible day with 2 interceptions, 3 fumbles, and 2 lost fumbles. Similar to last year, the QBs are turning the ball over a lot. It was a total of 15 Ints, 15 fumbles, and 7 lost fumbles for the QBs last year. So far, it is 12 Ints, 10 fumbles, and 4 lost fumbles this year. This is primarily due to lack of experience (true freshmen last year and true sophomores this year).
TOs lost are now 125% of the average team and TOs gained are just 80% of average. Since we have a negative TOM, the overall ranking actually improved but is still FUGLY at #103. Just two weeks ago, M had a #31 national ranking in TOs lost but 10 TOs lost in the last 2 weeks has dropped that to the current #96. The 5 TOs gained improved M's ranking from #106 to #77 in TOs gained. Wisconsin does not turn the ball over (ranked #1 in TO lost) but also does not get many TOs (#88 in TO gained). So – HOLD ON TO THE GOD DAMN BALL AND THROW THE GOD DAMN BALL TO OUR RECEIVERS!!
BTW, blocked punts, blocked field goals, on-side kick recovered by the opposing team, roughing the kicker penalties, etc. are not considered to be "official" turnovers but have the same effect. I will continue to track these also.
Synopsis for Special Teams: Hagerup continued to launch punts into orbit with a 72 yarder and an average of 47 yards per punt. Despite a net 11 yard punt by Denard and a net 19 yard punt by Tate, M ended with a net of 40 yards per punt. Purdue had one return for a –9 yards (and a fumble). Hagerup put one KO into the end zone and M remains very good on KO return yards allowed (#27) with opponent average starting position the 30 yard line. The attempted FG wasn't even close and both KO returns and punt returns remain anemic (M did not return any punts – probably due to the weather).
Details for Turnovers: Here is the Summary by Game. According to the folks at Football Outsiders a first down TO is worth 5 points, second down TO is worth 4.5 points, and a third down TO is worth 4.0 points (regardless of field position!).
The extrapolation is a straight line [Totals] X [13 Total Games / Games Played]. AQ Best and AQ average is over the past 10 years. AQ Best is kind of funky because the team with the "best" in each category is different so the numbers don't add. But, it does provide a point of reference.
Here is the detail of each fumble/interception and a comment providing insight if the turnover (or lack thereof) was significant. Note, blocked punts are not considered a turnover and an interception of an extra point is not considered a turnover (player does not get credit for a interception).
Here is the overall summary by player (data in yellow was affected by this week's game).
Details for Special Teams: Here are the Punting and Kickoff statistics. (Touchbacks are included as –20 yards when determining net yards.)
Remember here are the correlations of TOM to WLM at season's end.
With two games left in the regular season the total picture is starting to come into focus, and it’s right where a lot of us thought it would be going in, 7-8 wins for the season. With a home date against Wisconsin this week and then a trip to Columbus, I have a 46% shot at staying at 7, a 48% chance of splitting and going 8-4 and a slim 6% chance of running the table.
Sure we got a little carried away after another hot start and we got doom and gloom during the rough October stretch, but with two games left, at the top level this team is where many of us expected. Yeah, the offense has been better than we hoped at times and the defense has been worse than we feared at times, but add it all up and for the most part it makes sense.
With all the turnovers generating field position for the offenses, this game had a 32-29 advantage for Michigan in terms of expected points based on field position. The offenses responded with essentially a 21-9 result. Michigan offense under performed the field position by 11 points (12 if you count the special teams costing an extra point) and Michigan’s defense held Purdue 20 points below their expected points, not too mention adding a touchdown of their own. Yakety Sax it was.
Michigan rush: +2
Michigan pass: +2
Purdue rush: +0
Purdue pass: –13
Denard: +8 pass, +1 rush, –1 punt!
Tate: –2 pass, –1 rush
V Smith: +2
S Hopkins: –1
M Shaw: –1
R Roundtree: +8
D Stonum: +0
J Hemingway: +5
K Koger: +3
M Webb: +3
Big Ten Race
Based on remaining win probabilities and my best understanding of the tiebreaker procedures, here are my Big Ten Auto-berth odds:
Michigan St: 30%
Ohio St: 19%
15% chance that everyone ends with at least two losses and craziness really ensues.
Based on suggestions last week I moved to a loss-penalty (-5 pts PAN) and am now ranking teams based on a loss-adjusted PAN.
|5||Oklahoma St||Big XII||19.6||2.95||1|
|8||Ohio St||Big Ten||15.2||-0.40||1|
|10||Michigan St||Big Ten||13.3||2.36||1|
|15||Texas A&M||Big XII||20.6||4.91||3|
FWIW Michigan checks in at #33