mesmerism! presidential assassinations! circuses on fire!
Yet another low-action week. Action since last rankings:
9-28-10 Notre Dame gains commitment from DaVaris Daniels.
If you see any errors in the individual tables, please let me know. I'm tempted to move Indiana down a bit, but their averages per commit are about even with (or only very slightly behind) the teams nipping at their heels, and they have more commits.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Avg|
Rivals rankings are on the "RR" scale, which is on a scale from about 5 to about 6.1. Unrated prospects are given a 5.1 rating, on par with the worst of any Big Ten commit last year. Scout is on the 5-star system (unranked players earn one star), and ESPN uses grades out of 100 (unranked is 40 or 45).
|#1 Ohio State - 17 Commits|
No change for the Buckeyes.
|#2 Notre Dame - 20 Commits|
|George Atkinson III||S||CA||5.8||4||79|
Irish pick up DaVaris Daniels, son of
former current NFLer Phillip Daniels.
|#3 Nebraska - 13 Commits|
No change for Nebraska.
|#4 Michigan State - 16 Commits|
Nothing new for MSU.
|#5 Michigan - 10 Commits|
Ready for something to happen here plz.
|#6 Indiana - 21 Commits|
IU is pretty much done.
|#7 Iowa - 14 Commits|
|#8 Northwestern - 13 Commits|
No change for Northwestern.
|#9 Minnesota - 15 Commits|
No changes for the LOLphers.
|#10 Wisconsin - 11 Commits|
No change for Wisconsin.
|#11 Penn State - 4 Commits|
They have to get some commits sooner or later, right?
|#12 Illinois - 16 Commits|
|#13 Purdue - 7 Commits|
No change for Purdue.
"I don't mean much to you, but you mean everything to me."
- Nearly Every Michigan Opponent, 2010.
After reading the excellent diaries prescribing proper fourth down etiquette according to the numbers, odds, and expected values, it makes sense to me that when you have the nation's leading rusher on a 4th and 1, you go for it. Period. But this isn't about our offense's decisions.
Most defenses must put together three consecutive good plays. Michigan's defense has a hard enough time doing that as is, but for whatever reason I've noticed this year that our defense has faced an usually large number of aggressive opponents making the (tactically correct) decision to go for it on 4th down. Part of me thought this was just me being paranoid. But tonight after the game I wanted to see the actual numbers, and boy was this hunch right.
Here is a chart with Michigan and our Big10 opponents in 2010 and the number of 4th downs each team has had to face:
Chart of Opponents Going For It On 4th Down
|Average Per Game||Total||Converted||
Does that jump of the page at you? It should.
Michigan, through five games, is facing almost twice as many fourth down conversion attempts as the next team (MSU) and three times or more as many as the rest of our Big10 opponents. Our defense is facing an enormous task of shutting down these hyper aggressive teams.
Does that mean our defense is just bad?
Contrary to that, I assert that it is an underlying trend in the games that Michigan plays, one that reconciles nicely another statistical blip coming from my stats on Normalized PPG and YPG, wherein our opponents typically far exceed their season standards when playing against Michigan.
Our opponents most of the time play their best game of the year against us.
Michigan is by far and away the red-letter, circled-twice, highlighted, make-or-break game of the year for every single team we have played. This will likely continue through Ohio State. Our opponents each and every week have thrown (and will throw) the whole playbook at us, and take risks when they normally would not - for a chance at knocking off Michigan.
- UConn wanted ever so badly to bust open it's season as a Big East Title contender.
- UMass wanted to be The Horror II.
- BGSU wanted to be Toledo.
- Indiana was absolutely out for blood big time.
Only Notre Dame, with their new head coach and coming off of a win and playing us at home, (despite us being rivals neither ND nor Michigan believes the other to be THE big rival), doesn't fit the bill of someone willing to sell their own mother in order to beat Michigan....and Notre Dame was 0 for 0 on 4th downs this year.*
There is playing to win and then there is playing as if the season ends today, and that is what we often times find ourselves facing on defense.
Can anyone really argue against the notion that the four teams listed above weren't playing their lights out when they played Michigan this year? Indiana's season, for all intents and purposes, is now over. They had hopes for an eight win season, now it's likely they will struggle to reach six. I have a hard time believing Indiana is going to come out anything but flat next week @osu.
Looking ahead, can we take some positive away from this?
As a direct result of our opponents being hyper aggressive against us this far into the season, it inflates our opponents' PPG, YPG, and TOP. Don't get me wrong, what UConn, UMass, and Indiana did was absolutely the correct strategy - but from a Michigan perspective we don't want our opponents to play correctly by the math. We would much rather them settle for 3 or punt the ball back to Denard. All of these things result in less of our defense on the field, less points for the opposition.
And if our big remaining opponents do that we will allow fewer PPG, and this gives our offense a better chance to equalize for the win. PSU, Iowa, Wisconsin, osu - all of these teams could fit the bill as a more "stodgy" and "conservative" Big10 school. (MSU has already shown a preponderance for trick plays and going for it on fourth down).
Ok. Sounds good to me, but I'm still pissed off about our defense!
Fine. Do yourself a favor and only read the offensive UFR and only watch the youtube highlights of Every Offensive Snap. It does wonders for the blood pressure. Understand that our defense performed precisely to expectations today, but so did our offense!
But seriously, in the meantime, take a deep breath. We now have three road victories in as many years. Road games in the Big10 are brutal (PSU lost, Wisconsin lost, OSU/UM/NW all nearly were upset). And for godssakes get excited! It's MSU week!
*In other years, the UM/ND game builds up differently and everyone lets loose, but this particular year it did not set up that way.
If you're keeping track, Michigan is recruiting RB Demetrius Hart, S Roderick Ryles, and S Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix from Dr. Phillips for the 2011 class. As I said yesterday, Roderick Ryles was just offered by Michigan and will be visiting for the Wisconsin game. They're also very much in the conversation with 2012 QB Nick Patti. You can add another teammate to the list with 2011 WR Chris Gallon (6'5", 205 lbs.):
Michigan is starting to come after me hard. They're looking at my senior film right now, and they said after that they might offer. Coach Smith has been in constant contact with me. He said they like me a lot, I just have to wait until they see my film.
Chris sent the Michigan coaches his junior film, and the first three games from this season. Gallon said they are recruiting him as a wide receiver, and if they offer, Michigan has a good shot with him.
I was supposed to go up to Alabama this weekend with Dee (Hart) and HaHa (Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix), but I'm taking my SAT so I didn't go. I'm going to be going to Michigan for the Wisconsin game though. We're all going up there together.
Gallon, Ryles, Patti, and as of right now Demetrius and Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix are all planning on being at the Michigan game, when they take on Wisconsin.
In his season review, THE KNOWLEDGE has already shown that Michigan will lose just a game this season, before moving on to trounce the BS Broncos in the National Championship game
THE KNOWLEDGE had also stated that Michigan will win all OOC games. As per usual, that was shown to be true by time, and THE KNOWLEDGE has basked in glory
After Michigan wins tomorrow against PSI, everyone will be saying things like “these are the exact 5 games they won last year”, “they lost to all the remaining 7 teams last year”, etc
And if they are Michigan fans, they continue to worry about Michigan losing many games in the Big Ten. These people clearly don’t understand THE KNOWLEDGE. As noted earlier, those that follow THE KNOWLEDGE shall be worry-free
Now that Michigan’s 7-1 record in the Big Ten has been made clear, we’ll move on to what will happen to the rest of the teams
- Bottomfeeders Minn, Purdue and Illinois will have a combined 3 wins between them
- Indiana will suck as well going 3-5
- MSU will finish 4-4
- PSU, Iowa and Wisc will all finish 5-3
- NU will have a good run, especially since they don’t play Michigan and osu; will end up 6-2
- osu will finish 6-2
For the curious souls, Michigan will handily defeat osu
As time progresses and these results come to fruition, THE KNOWLEDGE shall soar
and leave every doubter in a trail of dust
THE KNOWLEDGE advises all his protégés to tag along in his wake
You may have noticed I did not do an Over/Under post last week for the Bowling Green game. Frankly, I didnt know what to do. The week before I got all cute and mocked up some totals for some of Michigan's backups, expecting them to play a bunch against UMASS. Yeah, didnt happen. In fact, I'm convinced I nearly jinxed the Wolverines with my bravado and bold statements towards the second stringers production. Rather than test fate, I skipped last week. But, I'll put something together for fun as a supplement to all the other great previewing going every Friday in advance of Michigan's game. Speaking of great previewing, check out the JCB. We have several new posts up already today, setting you up for all the college football and EPL soccer action this wekeend. I'll have a couple more posts over there later today with picks and everything else in between, so if you need a non-MIchigan sports fix to set your weekend up, please stop over. And, we'll have the Pick-4 categories up shortly as well.
Plugs aside, let's get into this game a little bit. It's always a tough day for me when Michigan and Indiana square off in any sport. For me, I never want to see my alma mater lose a game. I want them to win every time they play. But, if you cut me, I do bleed more Maize and Blue than anything else. I never want Michigan to lose either. I always want them to win. I try to enjoy Michigan-Indiana games for the pure sport of it, as a result. When the chips are down, however, I end up pulling for who needs the game the most. In 2010, the direction of the Michigan football program is on the line. While it would be a tremendous moment for the IU kids should they spring an upset, I feel Michigan is primed for a major breakthrough finally under Rodriguez. They need to keep this train going in the right direction. They have my unconditional support tomorrow down in Bloomington. But, if they lose, dont fault me for hustling down there to enjoy the party. Anyone want to watch my dogs if that happens?
With that half-assed explanation of loyalty out of the way, let's move on to the Over/Under games I have cooked up for the Big 10 opener tomorrow.
Ted Bolser, total receiving yards: O/U 49.5
I know what you're thinking. Who? He's Indiana's Tight End and a redshirt freshmen. Get to know him because there's a good chance he's going to stick a couple daggers into the Michigan defense. We all know Michigan's struggles keeping tabs on the tight ends, especially in big moments, over the last few seasons. Bolser is third in catches and yards for the one of the nation's more prolific passing attacks, so you know he's part of the gameplan and that the Hoosier brain trust think they call his number and get a productive play. Bolser was the 52nd ranked played in the state of Ohio in 2009, playing high school ball at Indian Hill, a surburban Cincinnati school, probably more known athletically as a quasi baseball power.
In this case, they appear to have a grown a Big 10 offensive weapon. At 14.2 yards per catch, Bolser is giving the Hoosiers some kick with his catches. He has four touchdowns already. His other catches include momentum swinging grabs on key drives that helped swing two games. He would have done the same thing in a third game had the Hoosiers not botched their chance later in the drive. Dont be surprised if he impacts the game early. Three of his touchdowns have come in the first quarter, twice tallying Indiana's first score of the game. We've seen Jonas Mouton make some plays this year in coverage, including a pair of picks. Can he thwart a Hoosier attempt or two at getting the ball to this kid? There are plenty of other better name wideouts to set an Over/Under to for the Hoosiers. Demarlo Belcher is one of the best in the league. Tandon Doss is starting to hit a stride after battling a groing earlier in the year. Terrance Turner is flat blowing up in his senior year. I just think those guys are going to get their stats one way or another tomorrow. As long as one doesnt go bonkers, Michigan will be fine. Going to Bosler has been a strategic trump card for the Hoosiers this year, but if Michigan can block this a couple times it will probably force enough punts and field goal attempts to allow the offense to put some breathing room between the two teams. This Over/Under will go a long in determining what kind of game the Michigan defense will end up having.
Ben Chappell Total TD Passes: O/U 2.5
This is a great game to play for Over addicts. Michgian fans should ready themselves now and expect the Hoosiers to hit some big plays in the passing game. But, it doesnt really matter what kind of game evolves it can easily involve the Hoosier QB throwing a hat trick on the board. If Indiana goes step for step with Michigan, push them into the fourth quarter or even spring the upset, it almost certainly has to come from the senior signal caller's arm. But even if Michigan blows out Indiana, easily covering the pointspread, its still likely we'll see a lot of Chappell. They're going to throw, throw, throw and do so with Chappell almost to the end even if they're out of it by the second half. Would a 48-31 final for Michigan, but with Chappell tossing 3-4 TDs really be an outlandish outcome? Actually it sounds about right half the time I think about.
How good has Chappell been this year? He's top ranked in the nation in value added for all QBs, per the inimitable Mathlete's number crunching. But three TD games are not easy to come by, regardless of how strong the offense is or how weak the pass defense looks. It might truthfully be a sucker bet for Over addicts. He didnt throw a TD against the Wolverines a year ago. Chappell has only gone over the 2.5 total four times in his career. Last year against Illinois and Wisconsin and this year in the last two games against Western Kentucky and Akron. The Hoosiers are 3-1 SU, 4-0 ATS in those game, so look out kittens if he does, I suppose. It's a tricky number because he's almost a lock to get two TDs, three TDs is not easy to get, but Michigan's D might be the perfect tonic to power up your numbers. Hopefully, the IU brain trust hasnt noticed the Wolverines struggles defending the roll out.
Mike Cox O/U rushing yards: O/U 60 yards
Michigan's tailback rotation in this game will be intriguing. Starter Michael Shaw, who has been an underrated value for the Wolverines through four games, is out as is Fitzgerald Toussaint, who excited folks last week with a breakout run. Michigan's five man rotation for tailback carries has yet to really materialize with Shaw and Vincent Smith carrying most of the load, but with injuries hampering the position tomorrow and only three healthy bodies available, I would be stunned if Michael Cox and freshmen Stephen Hopkins werent a more regular part of the gameplan. I dont know if Hopkins isnt more of a role player in short yardage spots, plus he fumbled a week ago, so I am hedging that Cox will be more of a factor and making him the focus of this Over/Under game. Besides, I am trying to lure some Magnus and Touch The Banner money into the pot. Like Magnus, I too am a big fan of Michael Cox. But I am reluctant to annoint him because frankly we've only seen him in garbage duty against the likes of Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan and Delaware State. If he gets a bunch of carries tomorrow, they will represent the first touches the redshirt Sophomore will get with not only the game still in doubt, but against any Big 10 foe.
It looms as a big day, a turning point perhaps, for the young man's college career. I'm totally pulling for him. Not just because I feel he has the goods, but more because anybody who would commit to Michigan during the first week of September in 2007, amid all the crap being flung at the program in the wake of the Appalachain State and Oregon disasters and then stay through all that has happened the last two seasons since the coaching change, deserves a full round of hoarse throat cheering when he gets in the game. The Karmic side in me feels good things are coming this kid's way for sticking it out. Expect Michigan to use Vincent Smith more early on as his experience, quality blocking and nose for the end zone (he does have six scores in Michigan's last six games) will be needed to steady the game for Michigan in the first conference road game of the season. But Cox will be meshed into the mix at some point tomorrow. I'm thinking something in the ballpark of 10 carries, which would be well over 100 yards if he adheres to the YPC he's achieved in his limited time so far. But, this is a step up in play and he'll be going against starters for the first time in his career. I dont know if you can expect big numbers. But man, if does.....here's hoping Magnus lets me on the bandwagon.
Darius Willis + Michigan's leading tailback rusher, total rushing yards: O/U 160 yards.
First, a reminder. And, give me a break, folks. This is the single greatest play my alma mater has ever pulled off at Michigan Stadium. Plus, the sweet voice of Don Fisher reminds me of March basketball in the early 1990s. Cant beat that:
I dont like doing two running back games out of sheer variety sake. But this one is too goofy to pass up. It comes courtesy of fellow MGoUser and Diarist mistersuits who suggested it in his tremendous blog yesterday dissecting the team's expected production in Bloomington tomorrow. And, it has the added value of including another Michigan running back in the event the Cox game is a non-starter, and I misjudged how much playing time he'll receive. The battle between the teams' rushing offenses might be an underrated key to this game. On the Hoosier side of the equation is Darius Willis. We all remember him a year ago for streaking down the sideline on a 85-yard scoring gallop that nearly won the game for Indiana in the Big House. Outside of that run, he was pretty bottled up by the Wolverines with just 67 yards on 15 carries. I dont know how good Willis really is, though. I think he's got a nice game, but he had three big time runs a year ago, one apiece against Michigan, Purdue and Northwestern. I hate to maniupluate numbers, but if you take those runs out of the equation, he only averaged 3.23 yards per carry in 2009. He's been effective this year against Towson and Akron, but couldnt get anything going against Western Kentucky. I'd like to think Michigan can perform better than those teams, but you never know when the same spot syndrome will kick in. He housed Michigan a year ago, no reason to think he cant do it again. But defending the run so far has been the good part of the Michigan defense this year. Will that hold up in Big 10 play?
Roy Roundree, total receiving yards: O/U 85.5
There's a couple of ways to look at Roy Roundtree's projected season over the next two months. You can take his 20 catches so far this season and say he's on pace for 60 receptions, which is great. However his yardage output has not been as big as last year's on a per catch basis as he's down three whole yards per catch. Or, you can go back to last year, when he emerged during the final four games and point out that in Michigan's last 8 games played he has 50 catches for just over 600 yards, a pace that extrapolated over a 12-game season would equal a 75-catch, 907-yard season with a 12.1 yard per catch average. That would be a great season for a Michigan wide receiver in any era of the program's history. Either way, its hard not to get excited about a full season out of Roundtree. The question with Roy is can he find the consistency he had to close last season and stay in that groove the rest of the year. He's alternated games in 2010 where he hasnt dented the stat sheet with star performances. He got knocked out of the opener against UConn and wasnt involved much during the Umass contest. He was clutch against Notre Dame and had 100-yards a week ago--his third 100-yard game in his last eight--against Bowling Green. Can he put forth his best back-to-back game of the season tomorrow against Indiana? Or is this offense just too varied and deep and other options take precedence? Personally, I think he has a big game. But, then again maybe he's a decoy and Stonum blows up. Or Odoms. Who knows? That's why they call it gambling.
All numbers included in this preview are using my PAN metric, Points Above Normal. PAN is essentially how many points above an average FBS team was a team/unit/player worth. For reference, an average FBS is approximately equal to Illinois or a top team from the MAC.
All games against FCS teams are excluded for all teams, as well as any plays in the second half where one team leads by more than 2 touchdowns or any end of half run out the clock situations.
At this point adjustments for strength of opponent are directional but still highly uncertain. They will be used when noted and excluded otherwise. As the season progresses almost all numbers will be opponent adjusted.
Rush Offense vs Indiana
Michigan Off, no adjustments: +13 PAN, 3rd nationally, 1st in Big 10
Michigan Off, opp adjusted: +6 PAN, 6th, 1st
Indiana Def, no adjustments: +2 PAN allowed, 58th, 7th
Indiana Def, opp adjusted: +3 PAN allowed, 101st, 11th
This should be another bloodbath on the ground. No matter how you slice it, Michigan is really good at running the ball and Indiana hasn’t been great at stopping it and they have played some terrible teams. Based on the numbers this is projected to be between a 9 and 15 point advantage for Michigan.
Denard Robinson is leading all players (including running backs) with a +13 PAN per game on the ground, nearly double the next highest quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick at Nevada and Cam Newton at Auburn who both sit at +7 PAN.
It sounds like Michael Shaw will be out this week. He has been Michigan’s leading running back but holds a relatively mundane +1 PAN on the season and is 12th among Big 10 running backs in total rushing PAN. Vincent Smith sits right behind Shaw with a +0 PAN and 13th in the Big 10.
Pass Offense vs Indiana
Michigan Off, no adjustments: +7 PAN, 22nd nationally, 4th in Big 10
Michigan Off, opp adjusted: +4 PAN, 16th, 2nd
Indiana Def, no adjustments: -3 PAN allowed, 14th, 2nd
Indiana Def, opp adjusted: +2 PAN allowed, 90th, 10th
Another big swing from Indiana’s cupcake non-conference schedule. Adjusting for opponent takes them from top 20 in pass defense to bottom 20. With a big advantage on the ground Michigan might be going to the air in large quantities but they shouldn’t have much trouble when they do. This matchup is projecting to be a 4-6 point advantage for Michigan.
With the limited throws required of Denard, his total value has been good at +5 passing, but with the success other Big 10 quarterbacks have had to dated his 54th ranking overall in passer value is 8th in the Big 10.
The limited attempts have also limited the numbers from the wideouts. Roundtree and Stonum are the two with enough catches and yards to qualify and they are a decent +4 and +2 respectively. These numbers put them at 16th and 24th in the conference.
Rush Defense vs Indiana
Michigan Def, no adjustments: +3 PAN allowed, 65th nationally, 9th in Big 10
Michigan Def, opp adjusted: +1 PAN allowed, 80th, 8th
Indiana Off, no adjustments: -1 PAN, 90th, 9th
Indiana Off, opp adjusted: -2 PAN, 84th, 9th
Indiana running the ball against Michigan’s defense has all the makings of a pillow fight. Indiana isn’t great at running the ball and Michigan isn’t great at stopping it. Don’t expect a big focus or advantage either way when it comes to Indiana running the ball.
Hoosier running back Darious Willis is the lone qualifying back from Indiana and he comes in 16th in the conference at –0 PAN per game on the season.
Pass Defense vs Indiana
Michigan Def, no adjustments: +4 PAN allowed, 70th nationally, 8th in Big 10
Michigan Def, opp adjusted: +2 PAN allowed, 85th, 9th
Indiana Off, no adjustments: +20 PAN, 1st, 1st
Indiana Off, opp adjusted: +8 PAN, 3rd, 1st
And things just got a bit scary. The secondary was a massive fear for Michigan fans everywhere coming into the season and even after accounting for their wretched non-conference opponents, Indiana’s passing game looks like a well oiled machine.
Quarterback Ben Chappell has been the man behind the entirety of the +20 PAN through the air. That feat of efficiency places him squarely at #1 in the country in value added among signal callers. He hasn’t been a threat on the ground at all, but his productivity and efficiency passing the ball have been second to none through the early non-conference slate.
His targets have included five different players with qualifying stats, three of which are ranked in the top 100 nationally. Damarlo Belcher is 8th nationally and tops in the Big 10 with +8 PAN on the season. Terrance Turner is fourth in the Big 10 at +6 and Tandon Doss is also a solid +5. The Hoosier’s fourth and fifth most productive targets have been Ted Bolswer and Duwyce Wilson, who despite having three guys ahead of them on their own team, are ahead of only Roy Roundtree on Michigan’s roster in receiver productivity. Running back Darius Willis is an occasional target as well, ranking fourth among Big 10 backs in receiving.
Because it’s still difficult to determine how much of Indiana’s success is directly due to their weak schedule, projecting this matchup seems especially difficult. Not difficult is saying that this should be a huge struggle for Michigan but in how bad is it going to be.
Special Teams and Penalties vs Indiana
Punters and punt returners will probably not decide this game. Indiana has been pretty average at both and Michigan has been above average at the punting and below average in the returning. When it comes to the frequent kickoffs and kick returns, both teams have been equally bad at both so far this season. The kicking has been a major sore spot for Michigan fans this season. After last week’s refusal to skip the field goals altogether, Michigan moves up to 114th nationally as other teams continue to trot out poor kickers. Indiana hasn’t been hit as hard as Michigan but their situation isn’t great itself. They come in at 87th nationally at –1.4 but have only attempted 2 field goals in their two FBS games.
Penalties could be interesting for these two teams as well. Both teams have been at the way wrong end of the penalties so far this year. Indiana is slightly better than Michigan at –2 and 102nd nationally versus Michigan’s 108th and –3 per game.
Predictions Almost Certain to Cost You Money if Taken Seriously
You don’t need any fancy stats to determine that this one has all the makings of a shootout. If both teams offenses continue rolling it might only take a stop or two for one defense to gain an advantage. If Michigan doesn’t lose the turnover battle they should have a pretty good shot at winning.
Michigan 35 Indiana 31
Elsewhere in the Big 10:
Ohio St 28 Illinois 13 – Ohio St goes back to a bit of Tressel-ball in Big 10 play
Iowa 17 Penn St 12 – The opposite of the Michigan Indiana game
Michigan St 28 Wisconsin 24 – Setting up a match of undefeated teams next week
Minnesota 35 Northwestern 31 – Upset of the week, the Fighting Brewsters pull one out
Alabama 21 Florida 17 - Alabama wins another one ugly
Stanford 34 Oregon 31 – Stanford knocks off the Ducks in Eugene.