Rush Offense vs Wisconsin
Michigan Off: +7, 2nd nationally, 1st Big Ten
Wisconsin Def: +1, 38th, 5th
D Robinson: +6 rushing, 1st in Big Ten, 2nd nationally
S Hopkins: +0, 7th in Big Ten
M Shaw: +0, 10th
V Smith: +0, 11th
Last week’s mud game was several points worse on the ground than any game for Michigan to date. Wisconsin’s rush defense has been good but their best performance came in the one game they lost. Will be interesting to see where Michigan’s ground game is at now with last week’s performance relatively meaningless.
Prediction: +6 Michigan – Michigan should be able to get some yards on the ground but needs to be good enough to bring safeties down and open up the passing game. Also, a big play on the ground would be nice, it’s been a while.
Pass Offense vs Wisconsin
Michigan Off: +5, 14th, 1st
Wisconsin Def: +1, 55th, 6th
D Robinson: +5 passing, 5th
R Roundtree: +6, 4th
J Hemingway: +6, 7th
D Stonum: +3, 18th
Other than blowing the doors off the Buckeyes, Wisconsin has been vulnerable to the pass during Big Ten play. The question is whether or not Denard (or Tate) can put together the consistent play necessary to take advantage.
Prediction: +4 and two get there Michigan will likely need Big Passing Plays – Interceptions to be at least +2
Rush Defense vs Wisconsin
Michigan Def: –3, 105th, 10th
Wisconsin Off: +3, 16th, 3rd
J White: +1, 3rd
J Clay: +1, 5th
M Ball: +0, 8th
After an underwhelming start in non-conference play, the Badger ground game has been consistently strong in Big Ten play. The ground game has been the backbone of the #2 rated red zone offense (92% of possible points scored) in the country. For reference Michigan is about average at 75%. Michigan will need to get off the field before the red zone because Wisconsin has not been a team susceptible to bend but don’t break defense.
Prediction: Wisconsin +6. Michigan is going to give up some plays but the key will be finding a way to get three good plays in a row to get off the field.
Pass Defense vs Wisconsin
Michigan Def: –3, 106th, 11th
Wisconsin Off: +3, 23rd, 4th
S Tolzien: +4, 7th
N Toon: +3, 16th
I don’t exactly know what to say about this matchup, we are probably doomed despite the nice number from last week. Hopefully it’s not as bad as last year.
Prediction: Wisconsin +6 and hopefully no worse.
Special Teams vs Wisconsin
Michigan: –2, 108th, 10th
Wisconsin: +2, 48th, 5th
Kicking: Big advantage Wisconsin, top 10 versus bottom 10
Michigan kicks: Slight advantage Wisconsin, Michigan is bad, Wisconsin below average
Wisconsin kicks: Slight advantage Wisconsin, Michigan is bad, Wisconsin below average
Michigan punts: Slight advantage Michigan, Michigan is really good, Wisconsin above average
Wisconsin punts: Push, both are bad
Over half of Wisconsin’s advantage comes from their kicker versus our disaster.
Predictions almost certain to cost you money if taken seriously
If Wisconsin brings their A game Michigan is done and Michigan isn’t good enough to play poorly and win.
This chart is both teams game scores ranked from best to worst. Wisconsin’s ceiling has been much higher and Michigan’s bad has been worse, but in the middle, these two teams aren’t that far apart.
In Madison our chances would be slim, but with Senior Day and home field it’s nearly a coin flip.
Wisconsin 38 Michigan 37
Iowa 26 Ohio St 24 – Iowa paves the way for Pasadena Sparty
Michigan St 28 Purdue 10 – Unfortunately Purdue doesn’t have the talent
Illinois 38 Northwestern 24 - [Name Redacted] gets a Wrigley reprieve
Penn St 31 Indiana 10 – Nothing like last week, but Indiana gets blown out at “home”
What? Is this "feature" still a thing? Yeah, it's still a thing when I have time for it. I admit, I had time last week, but Purdue frustratingly doesn't publish a transcript. I really didn't feel like listening to the audio of the entire presser. Seriously, what's up with that? The previous weeks I was just really busy and didn't get around to doing it. I've got a little time now as I relax while watching Michigan handle Bowling Green (woo basketball empty Crisler Arena!!!).
So this week, we have that big meat-head Bret Bielema and his meaty Badgers (did that just sound really wrong? At least I didn't call them yummy). Anyway, here's the link to the presser, for those who wanna read the thing over. Surprisingly, Bielema is NOT monosyllabic. Whodathunkit.
Holy crap, his intro was long. Spent a lot of time talking about how they played so many guys (11 on DL alone!). He mentions a few players specifically, like JJ Watt (who we know is very good), Aaron Henry (pick six), James White (Fr, RB), and David Gilreath. Now to the substance...
On gameplanning against Michigan...
- Michigan offensive philosophy very different than under Carr. Now have "a little bit more multiple" (I think he's referring to offensive formations?), but really clicking right now.
- Denard and Tate present different challenges (seems like they're preparing to see both). Mentions that Denard is a special runner and has "a live arm," but also that "he's had some picks, some bad decisions." Because of his running ability, gets secondary and linebackers in iso coverages.
- Tate is "savvy" and "shifty." Suggests that you know what you get with Denard, but Tate is more of an improviser, making "a lot of in-play game adjustments and decisions."
- Comparing DR and TF, he says: "They’re not the same, but there are some different play calls, but they don’t get in different sets or different philosophy, and I think they expect them both to know the plan, move them forward." (Yeah, that's just a wonderfully ridiculous sentence. Quick thinking, coach.)
- Talks about Michigan having had 5 TO's Saturday and that their "guys are aware of it." Stresses ball security on their side. Sounds like he thinks there is some opportunity to force a few TO's, what with the TO and Denard "bad decisions" comments.
- They'll use a combination of WR's and RB's on the scout team to play DR. Similar to what they did when playing ohio state (pryor).
On the game/rivalry...
- First time back to Big House since 2008, when UW lost. Have to learn from positives/negatives, but it's a different team with different leaders.
- Mentions that the road loss against michigan state was big and that they took a lot from it, taking confidence from that into the game this Saturday.
On their own team, personnel, other random stuff...
- Doesn't believe John Clay will be at full strength, but feels good about the rotation they have with Montee Ball and James White. Get good rhythm with those two and bring in a 3rd when needed.
- On UW averaging almost 40ppg, really lauds OC Paul Chryst. Says he and the other coaches have done a great job of ingraining the offense, particularly when you see the 3rd stringers coming in and having success against IU.
- Talks about how momentum in road games is huge, particularly for the road team to withstand swings in momentum to the home team. This will be a challenge against UM.
- Someone actually asked him why he thought the computer polls didn't seem to like Wisco as much as the human voters (really?). He basically said, "I dunno, but it'd be neat to find out." Then speculates that maybe it's due to computers looking at W/L and maybe not scoring margin. (So yeah, that's actually pretty close. Except for Billingsley. That guy's just an idiot. I still have no idea how his "computer poll" is in the BCS formula).
So what did we learn? That the media asks a lot of stupid superficial questions. GO BLUE! Beat Bucky!
Introduction: Why post this obviousness?
I noticed the other day a poster had mentioned that 'the line' for the Wisconsin at Michigan game was Wisconsin -4, and they were confused as to how Michigan could be favored by four. Several posters corrected him, informing him that the -4 line means that Wisconsin is favored by 4 for betting purposes. After thinking about this for a moment, it occured to me that while most of us know this, I'm not sure WHY most of us know this.
I have never in my life seen a "beginner's guide to sports betting". Of course, I don't bet on sports, so I'm sure they probably exist, but for the majority of us that do not bet on sports, it's not something we're likely to come across. As such, it is perfectly reasonable that somebody might not get the concepts behind "lines". I'm not so much talking about how they're set, which JamieMac of Just Cover has done a wonderful job of going over before, talking about the practices of vegas oddsmakers and so on. No, I mean what they, and other sports gambling terminology means. As such, I've created a little diary here I hope that anyone who never really thought about the concept of "the line" will take a moment to look over.
Well... do you play golf?
No. I'm just a temporary personification of your target audience. I don't even know what golf is unless you decide I'm supposed to.
Shut up. You now know what golf is.
I know kung-golf.
You're not Neo, though. Moving on, in golf, one often will play with a handicap. Different leagues may calculate handicap in different ways, but the basics are this: A golfer's handicap is the number of strokes over par he is expected to finish on a given 18 holes, divided by a certain number, which changes based on the courses you've been playing. The intention of a handicap is to provide a golfer of lower ability a chance to "beat" par on the golf course.
This isn't helping.
Just wait. This is going to be rough and dirty, because I don't want to include too much math. If one golfer in a twosome has a handicap of 16, and the other has a handicap of two, that would indicate that on a standard par 72 18 holes, the first golfer would be expected to finish with a score of approximately 88, and the other a score of 74.
Rough and dirty twosomes? Lines are awesome.
Quiet. Let me speak. When you subtract each golfer's handicap from their raw score, it produces their handicapped score, which is used to determine the winner. So, in those conditions, if golfer one shot an 87, while golfer two shot his expected 74, golfer one would actually win the round with a handicapped score of 71, one under par.
And this applies to football because?
Because the lines are a form of handicap! The lines are vegas oddsmakers saying that, if we gave team one an advantage of X number of points, then it puts the teams on equal footing.
I still don't get it.
Okay. Work with me here. Lets go back to the numbers for the Wisky @ Michigan game: Wisky -4; Michigan +4. This is not an expectation of the outcome. They are not predicting that either team will win or lose by that many points.
But I though-
No. They're not. What they are saying is, "If Wisconsin were put in a 4 point hole, or Michigan were spotted 4 points, then the teams should be approximatly "on par". The difference between this and golf is that the teams should be on par with each other, rather than on par with the golf course.
So the line not a prediction of who will win or really even by how much, but a prediction of how to make the teams even?
Sort of. The important thing to remember is, the oddsmakers aren't trying to predict the outcome of the game. They're trying to generate betting. So Essentially, they're saying, "We think that on this field, at this time, Wisconsin is a better team by 4 points than Michigan. Do you agree or disagree?"
So when you bet against the line, you're not... betting on the game?
Not really. YOu're actually betting on whether the oddsmakers are right or wrong about the teams. Someone betting on Wisconsin is actually saying, "Wisconsin just destroyed Indiana, a team Michigan barely beat. They're more than 4 points better than Michigan." Someone betting on Michigan is actually saying, "Michigan is way improved over earlier in the year. I don't think they're four points worse than Wisconsin."
But isn't the answer to the question decided in the game?
Yeah, it is, but you're still betting on who will win or lose with the handicap, so you're still betting against the oddsmakers. Not against one team or the other. And even more worrisome... the oddsmakers are liars.
Yes, shocking, I know. that line they set... that's not really what they think would be an accurate handicap for the teams. If I were going to set a true handicap for the teams, I'd probably give Michigan abou a 7 handicap versus Wisconsin. If you added a touchdown to Michigan's final score, I think they'd come out tied in an average game.
So then... the point of a line?
To get you to bet. To get you either nodding your head in agreement or shaking it in disagreement with the oddsmakers, and putting your money where your mouth is.
I don't have a mouth.
Uhh... shut it anyway? Lets sum up:
The line is not a means of picking a winner of a game, nor is it intended to do so.
The line is a form of handicap, suggesting that under given circumstances, adjusting the final score by X points (subtracting for the team expected to win or adding for the team expected to lose) would create a tie score. It is an attempt to put the teams "on par" with eachother.
The line is a betting tool, and is not intended to predict the score of the game.
Betting with or against the line is an agreement or disagreement with Vegas, not a belief or disbelief in one of the teams.
Good. I'm going to bed. If you have more questions, talk to one of our resident sports gamblers. At least now you won't be confused when you see Minn +16 against an opponent and wonder how they could be favored.
(original PP is at http://mgoblog.com/content/picture-pages-throwing-rock-against-slant. As always, text and analysis courtesy of Brian)
In this edition, Purdue recognizes that 8-in-the-box is like 9-in-the-box when the opposing offense is in 3-wide. But they're an enjuneerin' skool, so dey're smart like dat.
Wha'hoppon: Michigan has first and 10 on the 20 to open their third drive of the second half. They run a zone stretch left to Smith. Purdue slants the line against the stretch instead of flowing with it, which doesn't initially seem to do much except give Molk an easier reach block on the DT (one of several he had on the day, exactly as Brian predicted on MGoPodcast before the game). However, by slanting inside instead of maintaining outside contain, the playside DE forces Smith farther outside, where the MLB - the extra body Michigan can't quite block on this play - is headed at full speed. Purdue's paper, our rock, and Smith is stopped for no gain.
'Glass half-full' types will note that it required Purdue guessing right three different ways to stop this: 1) committing against the run with the 'extra' man, 2) slanting the DE inside instead of using him in contain, and 3) committing the MLB to the outside from the snap (although it could be argued that 2 and 3 are a combo meal). And the play was still just one ankle tackle away from being a big gain.
[Ed.: Instead of throwing my internet connection through a window I'm going to bump this Mathlete post. Thank you for your UFR-related patience. Also argh.]
In honor of Michigan’s final home game of the 2010 season, I decided to look a little deeper at the true value that home field holds.
The generally accepted value is that home field is worth about 3 points. Over the last 7 years that value has held fairly true. The average from 2004 to 2010 has been a 2.8 point per game advantage for the home team. 2004 and 2007 were big years for the home teams, with the home teams holding a 3.5 points per game advantage whereas in all other years the number was closer to 2.5 points per game.*
*All point references in this article are based on my PAN metric and are opponent adjusted, exclude games against FCS opponents and exclude garbage time situations.
Home field advantage is one of those things it is very difficult to pin point from game to game but it’s effects are very present over the broader scope. That isn’t to say however that there aren’t differences between how the effect plays out for different teams or even conferences.
Big House Advantage
Last year saw the Wolverines have their biggest disparity between home and road performance at nearly a touchdown per game. Most of the last several years have been between 1 and 2 points per game, less than the national average.
Michigan has seen more advantage come from the defense than the offense.
Although the overall level of home field advantage has been lower at Michigan than other places, the general splits are roughly in line. Teams tend to get a slightly bigger advantage from the defense than the offense and Michigan is near the middle of the pack in special teams and penalty disparity.
From 2004 to 2010 the WAC and Conf USA teams saw the biggest difference between the performance at home and the performance on the road. The Big East, MAC and even the liquored up SEC fans saw the lowest difference between home and road results, all coming in at less than 2 points per game over the last seven years.
For individual teams, home field has meant big things for some teams and been a disadvantage for a few. The lures of Hawaii and Las Vegas are perhaps too much for opponents as the Warriors and the Rebels lead the nation in home field advantage at more than double the national average. Bob Stoops at Oklahoma has come under fire for his road performance and rightfully so. This year the Sooners are fourth in home/road splits and they are third over the last seven years.
In The Big Ten
Since home field advantage isn’t necessarily about how well teams play at home but about how much better a team plays at home versus on the road, sometimes some unlikely teams pop to the top of the list. Iowa tops the list at over 4 points per game but Indiana and Purdue are in the top half of the spread. Michigan is one of the lowest in the Big Ten at less than 2 points per game. South Bend certainly wasn’t a decided locational advantage - the Fighting Irish are one of only five teams to average better performances on the road than at home over the last seven years.
What does it all mean
There is obviously an advantage to playing at home that affects all facets of the game. It is very difficult to pinpoint where the advantage is in any specific game but over a large set of games the advantages really start to show. Even though only five teams were worse at home than on the road over the last seven years, 102 out of 120 teams had at least one season where their road scores were higher than their home scores.
[A bit of mgofiction for a slow thursday before the game. Hope you all enjoy. Or not.
-- Coach S.]
[Fade into the locker room, just after the Wisconsin game. Coach Rod takes center stage, and starts speaking.]
COACH ROD: "I'm going to say one thing to you, men. One thing."
[Cut to the last drive of the Wisconsin game. Michigan down by 4, 35-31. 1st and 10 on the Michigan 24 yard line. 2 minutes, 13 seconds on the clock. Frank Beckmann announcing.]
BECKMANN: "Denard takes the snap, running right. Cuts back left, just tripped up! Gain of 5 on the play. 2nd and 5 coming up."
BRANDSTATTER: "He's been hard to stop today, huh Frank? Kept Michigan in this one almost by himself, over 300 yards of offense and three touchdowns. You think he has another touchdown left in him?"
[Cut back to Coach Rod, in the locker room]
COACH ROD: "It's been a long year. Remember spring practice? Remember those long weeks you put in during the summer? Well, it's been a long year for me too. Did I do everything right? Hell no. I've made mistakes. Who here hasn't? We made some honest mistakes, and get raked over the coals for it. Wasn't easy for me, wasn't easy for my family. But as Mufasa said, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Have we been killed, men? Are we dead?"
[Cut back to the game]
BECKMANN: "Denard back to pass, zings one over to Stonum, who drops it. Big third down coming up."
BRANDSTATTER: "Nice read by Denard, saw the corner playing a little off Stonum there. But gotta catch those easy ones. Don't want the drive to die here..."
[Back to the locker room]
COACH ROD: "Hell no! Not dead yet. No, not dead. And therefore, stronger. We are stronger. WE ARE STRONG."
[Coach Rod takes a deep breath, looking around the room. All eyes are on him.]
COACH ROD: "I want you all to think about what this team means to you. To be part of it. To contribute to it, no matter how big a contribution, or how small. Just like that little play out there on third down, right Kelvin?"
[Back to the game]
BECKMANN: "3rd and 5. Big play, not much time left, lots of yards to go for the win. Denard back to pass, passes down the middle to Roundtree, caught it! Roundtree dragged down from behind -- oh no, fumble! Who got it?"
BRANDSTATTER: "I saw Kelvin Grady running behind the play, and I think he just might have dived on the ball and gotten it. We'll have to see who's under that pile of white and red."
[The refs slowly peel one Badger off the pile after the other...]
BECKMAN: "Michigan ball! What a hustle play by Kelvin Grady! The play of the game! First down Michigan, ball at the 44 yard line. One minute and thirty on the clock. The Wolverines aren't dead yet!"
[Back to the locker room]
K. GRADY: "That's right coach. Like you said, never give up on the play."
COACH ROD: "That's right Kelvin. Never give up. NEVER give up. NEVER GIVE UP! This team has been down, this team has been beaten, but never once did I see any of you hang your heads. You kept fighting. The Wolverine never stops fighting, even when it's down. Even when it looks like the fight is lost, the Wolverine never quits. We fight to the end, win or lose, live or die. Right Stephen?"
[Back to the game. Michigan has advanced the ball to the Wisconsin 31, but it is now 4th and 1. Time is running out.]
BECKMANN: "Game on the line here. 4th and 1. Hopkins in the backfield, two receivers split right. Denard takes the snap, hands to Hopkins, who's hit in the backfield! He keeps his legs moving, spins, and dives, and drives the defensive tackle back. It's gonna be close!"
BRANDSTATTER: "I thought he was stopped short but he kept pushing! Depends on the spot, but he just might have gotten it."
[Refs bring out the chains...]
BECKMANN: "First down!! By the nose of the ball. What a second and third effort by Stephen Hopkins! 48 seconds left. Clock momentarily stopped thanks to the first down."
[Back to locker room. Hopkins nods at Coach Rod]
COACH ROD: "That's why we've been working this year, men. All year, every day, every hour in that weight room. It's for that yard when you need it on fourth and one and the whole game is on your shoulders. It's at that time when you see who is the better man. That is why we work so hard. THAT IS WHY WE WORK!"
[Nods around the room, and grunts of agreement. Coach Rod takes one more deep breath, and speaks again, his diction now at its peak]
COACH ROD: "But like I said, I've really only got one thing to say to you. One thing! It's not hard to guess. It's what we've been waiting for. And when the game clock ticked down out there a few moments ago, it's all I could think of. Just one damn thing!"
[Cut back to the Wisconsin Game. It's now 4th and goal, very little time left on the clock.]
BECKMANN: "4th and goal on the 2 yard line. 13 seconds left. Here it is, Michigan fans. 8-3, or 7-4? Win, or lose? What's the play call here Brandy?"
BRANDSTADTTER: "I think we all know who's getting the ball on this one, Frank. I just hope his shoes stay on."
BECKMAN: "OK, Here we go. Denard takes the snap. Takes a step forward. But then he steps back, jumps, and throws it to a wide open Koger. TOUCHDOWN MICHIGAN! TOUCHDOWN! He jump passed it on the last play of the game! Michigan is going to win, 38-35! The crowd is going crazy!"
[The stadium erupts, and then the band. The Victors will play on into the night... Cut back to the locker room]
ROD: "Just one thing on my mind after that game. Can you guess what it is? Denard?"
DENARD (softly): "Beat the Bucks."
TATE (louder now): "Beat the Bucks!"
ROD: "The rest of you all?"
TEAM (screaming): "BEAT THE BUCKS!"
ROD: "THAT'S RIGHT, JUST ONE THING: BEAT THE DAMN BUCKS! Now get outta here and celebrate. I'll see you Monday, and I tell you what, men: They better be ready down there in Columbus."
[Fade to black]