"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
This one is again created early for everyone's convenience, and in the event that I am putting the kiddos to bed when the game starts. If nothing else, we need to match the hilarity of last night's Belk Bowl thread, which was a wonderful indictment of the game itself.
What everyone has been waiting for - The Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl!
So, tune in to ESPN again at 8 PM for California (7-5) versus Texas (7-5) in another battle of so-so teams that will hopefully provide everyone some great Wednesday night entertainment.
I went Texas on this one in the pool.
Ive been watching the Sugar bowl ticket sites very closely..I wanted to upgrade my seats..TODAY the amount of tkts available went from around 8000 to 2300 in a matter of hours..What happened?...I ended up getting Club level on the Michigan Side for 71..I paid 155 for a 500 level 40yd line seat..Both are good seats but Club is MUCH better...IIll probably end up just giving my more costly ticket away..Now thats freaking CRAZY...Something HAS to be done about these bowl tickets..Ill Never go thru the UM ticket office again..and I KNOW its not their fault...What happened today for the available tkts to go from 8000 to 2300 in a matter of hours???..its been around 8000 for weeks..
Brady Hoke's first season as Michigan's head coach will come to an end on Tuesday, and most fans would agree that his rookie season at the helm has been a success. A win against Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl would tie the 2006 team's 11-2 campaign for the best record since going undefeated in 1997. I decided to take a close look at the numbers that these two teams put up this season, and try to organize them and make some sense out of them.
Here's the summary in chart form, read on for a more detailed analysis.
|Michigan Wolverines||Virginia Tech Hokies||Advantage|
|Key Wins||Nebraska 45-17 (Were #16, Now 9-3 and #21), Notre Dame 35-31 (NR, 8-4 and #26)||Georgia Tech 37-26 (Were #21, Now 8-4 and #30), Virginia 38-0 (NR, 8-4 and #33)||Slight Michigan|
|Losses||Michigan State 28-14 (Were #23, Now 10-3 and #12), Iowa 24-16 (NR, 7-5 and NR)||Clemson 23-3 (Were #13, Now 10-3 and #14), Clemson 38-10 (Were #20)||Slight VT|
5.34ypc, 235.7ypg, 31 TDs
4.53ypc, 188.7pyg, 25 TDs
4.07ypc, 129.1ypg, 13 TDs
3.32ypc, 107.8ypg, 15 TDs
8.6ypa, 187.4ypg, 20 TDs, 15 INTs
7.8ypa, 227ypg, 21 TDs, 9 INTs
6.54ypa, 188.5ypg, 12 TDs, 8 INTs
6.85ypa, 206.2ypg, 14 TDs, 15 INTs
|Special Teams- Returns||10.3yds punt return avg (#36), 19.8yds kick return avg (#99)||9yds punt return avg (#51), 19.7yds kick return avg (#100)||None|
|Special Teams- Kicking||33.7yds avg net punt (#107), 71.4% field goals (#70)||33.6yds avg net punt (#108), 82.4% field goals (#46)||Slight VT|
|Turnovers||+6 TO Margin, 0.5pg (#25)||+6 TO Margin, 0.46pg (#29)||None|
|Penalties||4.1 Penalties Per Game (#5)||5.8 Penalties Per Game (#58)||Michigan|
84% RZ Offense (#48),
69% RZ Defense (#4)
75% RZ Offense (#101),
68% RZ Defense (#3)
2.3 sacks per game (#27),
1.3 sacks allowed per game (#27)
2.9 sacks per game (#11),
1.2 sacks allowed per game (#21)
|3rd Down||48.4% 3rd Down Offense (#11), 36.1% 3rd Down Defense (#30)||46.3% 3rd Down Offense (#22), 32.4% 3rd Down Defense (#11)||None|
|4th Down||56.3% 4th Down Offense (#32), 38.9% 4th Down Defense (#21)||47.1% 4th Down Offense (#72), 31.6% 4th Down Defense (#8)||Slight Michigan|
Michigan Rush Offense vs. Virginia Tech Rush Defense
Michigan: #12 Rush Offense, 5.34ypc, 235.7ypg, 31 TDs
Virginia Tech: #17 Rush Defense, 3.32ypc, 107.8ypg, 15 TDs
Michigan has quite the two-headed rushing monster this season, with Denard being Denard -- leading the team with 1,163yds rushing at 5.6ypc, and Fitz finishing the season strong, giving the Wolverines two 1,000 yard rushers (1,011yds, 5.8ypc) for the first time in decades.
Virginia Tech, meanwhile, put up good defensive numbers against average teams, and not so great numbers against good ones. In a win over Georgia Tech they gave up 243 rushing yards, and in the two games that they lost to Clemson, they gave up 350 yards on the ground and looked bad in the process. With all the different looks they'll see from this Michigan offense, not to mention the fact that they'll be facing two legitimate running options on every single play, Michigan should be able to put up big numbers on the ground against this Hokie defense.
Michigan Rush Defense vs. Virginia Tech Rush Offense
Michigan: #34 Rush Defense, 4.07ypc, 129.1ypg, 13 TDs
Virginia Tech: #30 Rush Offense, 4.53ypc, 188.7ypg, 25 TDs
The front seven has made a pretty miraculous turnaround this season, a complete reversal of their performance last season, and has stopped some decent teams cold on the ground. We didn't have to face Wisconsin's dominant ground game this year, and Edwin Baker racked up 167yds on the ground against us in East Lansing, but other than that the run defense has been pretty solid.
The Hokies, on the other hand, have a quality talent in David Wilson, who ran for 1,627yds this season at 6.1ypc. He went off in his first meeting with Clemson, running for 123yds on 20 carries, but Clemson made some adjustments in the rematch and held him to just 32yds on 11 carries. I'm sure Mattison will be studying the film from that game very closely, and the Michigan defense should be able to keep Wilson under 100 yards on the day. Logan Thomas is somewhat of a threat out of the backfield as well, and will scramble if no one is open, but only ran for 416 yards on the year (3ypc) and is definitely no Denard.
Michigan Pass Offense vs. Virginia Tech Pass Defense
Michigan: #90 Pass Offense, 8.6ypa, 187.4ypg, 20 TDs, 15 INTs
Virginia Tech: #39 Pass Defense, 6.85ypa, 206.2ypg, 14 TDs, 15 INTs
Michigan's greatest weakness in the passing game is Virginia Tech's greatest strength defending the pass: interceptions. Denard has thrown 14 picks this season (Michigan is #97 in interceptions thrown), and Virginia Tech has picked off 15 passes this season, good enough to place them at #19 in the country in interceptions. If the Wolverines can keep a majority of their yardage on the ground, and make short, safe passes down the field to keep things mixed up, they'll be hard to stop. If Denard gets antsy and a couple of balls get thrown off his back foot, two or three interceptions might be too much for Michigan to overcome in what could end up being a close game.
Michigan Pass Defense vs. Virginia Tech Pass Offense
Michigan: #17 Pass Defense, 6.54ypa, 188.5ypg, 12 TDs, 8 INTs
Virginia Tech: #66 Pass Offense, 7.8ypa, 227ypg, 21 TDs, 9 INTs
Logan Thomas is kind of Denard Robinson Lite. He's thrown for almost 2,800yds, but has a completion percentage of 59%. He's thrown 9 interceptions, including three against Clemson, a two game series that saw him throw one total touchdown and barely completed 50% of his passes. His legs aren't anything to worry too much about, but he's an inconsistent player who shows flashes of greatness and follows them up with badly timed throws and a couple of dangerous passes into coverage.
This Wolverine Secondary isn't as much of a concern as it was early on in the season, as a couple of young players have stepped up big time, most notably Blake Countess. The safety positions have been a bit of a musical chair situation, but the players have settled into their roles and will be ready after weeks of preparation for the bowl game.
Michigan Special Teams vs. Virginia Tech Special Teams
Michigan: 33.7yds avg net punt (#107), 10.3yds punt return avg (#36), 19.8yds kick return avg (#99), 71.4% field goals (#70)
Virginia Tech: 33.6yds avg net punt (#108), 9yds punt return avg (#51), 19.7yds kick return avg (#100), 82.4% field goals (#46)
Both teams are comically bad at punting this season, and pretty average at punt returns. Kick returns are virtually identical as well (both terrible), and
VaTech has the edge at the Kicker position, but not by much. VT's starting placekicker will not play in the bowl game and will split kicking duties between the back-ups, as the starting kicker was arrested and suspended (HT: MGoShoe). This isn't last year's kicking game for Michigan. Don't expect any major plays in either direction on special teams.
Michigan vs. Virginia Tech: Miscellaneous
Michigan: +6 TO Margin, 0.5pg (#25), 4.1 Penalties Per Game (#5), 84% RZ Offense (#48), 69% RZ Defense (#4), 2.3 sacks per game (#27), 1.3 sacks allowed per game (#27), 48.4% 3DO (#11), 36.1% 3DD (#30), 56.3% 4DO (#32), 38.9% 4DD (#21)
Virginia Tech: +6 TO Margin, 0.46pg (#29), 5.8 Penalties Per Game (#58), 75% RZ Offense (#101), 68% RZ Defense (#3), 2.9 sacks per game (#11), 1.2 sacks allowed per game (#21), 46.3% 3DO (#22), 32.4% 3DD (#11), 47.1% 4DO (#72), 31.6% 4DD (#8)
Lots of fun stats to look at here, make of them what you will. Expect to see both quarterbacks get sacked once or twice, and depending on which refs will be in the bowl, assuming trends hold, Michigan could continue to be one of the most disciplined teams in the country, averaging only 4 penalties per game, compared to almost six for Virginia Tech.
Even though on paper the 2012 Sugar Bowl looks like a pretty evenly matched game, I like Michigan a lot. Clemson has given this defense plenty of film to watch, and has given Mattison the blueprint to stop both Thomas and Wilson. Michigan's ground game should be too much for the Hokies to handle, and I could see both Denard and Fitz going over 100yds on the ground, with maybe another 200 through the air.
Michigan wants to give it's seniors and first year coach a huge, program-changing victory in it's first BCS Bowl Game since 2007, and I think they're going to do it pretty easily. I'll say 38-14. What say you?
Is this an excuse to post a picture of the bowl's mascot? Yes.
Toledo vs Air Force at 4:30 in The Military Bowl presented by Northrup Grumman. Hey, it can't be as poorly played as the Belk Bowl, right?
We all know that Hoke has tried to emphasize time of possession (TOP) this season, as evidenced by his comments along the lines of "the defense plays best when they're on the sideline." So, I thought I'd take a look at the TOP numbers from this year and compare them to last year, to see if Hoke has achieved what he wanted to.
Before I get into it though, a few clarifications:
- This isn't meant to spark a debate about whether or not you think TOP is an important statistic. While that is an interesting debate, the level of importance of TOP as a stat is irrelevant right now, since I'm just trying to see how well Hoke has achieved his goal.
- This isn't meant to be a back-handed jab against RR, either. I am only comparing this year's TOP numbers to last year's to see the progression from one year to the next. Again, Hoke has made it a point of emphasis to try to control the ball on offense, and I'm just trying to see if he's achieved that goal.
- I am certainly not a math wiz, so I may be off by a few seconds in some of my calculations. I converted the "minutes:seconds" format listed in the box scores into seconds, so that I could more easily figure out totals and averages, and then converted the seconds back into minutes:seconds format to make the numbers more readable; things may have gotten jumbled in the process. If you would like to see a table with all of the numbers, I can provide that.
- My sources were ESPN's boxscores for this year, and the boxscores on MGoBlue.com for last year.
Without further ado, here's the overview:
In 13 games (I included the Gator Bowl and UMass), there were a total of 780 minutes played. Of those 780 minutes, Michigan's offense possessed the ball for 353 minutes and 14 seconds, or roughly 45% of the time. The most our offense possessed the ball in a single game was 36:52, in our opener against UConn. The least we possessed the ball in a single game was 18:13, in our win over Indiana.
As an aside, our second-lowest single game TOP came against UMass at 22:22, which is why I didn't throw out that game. Games against FCS teams typically get thrown out because they would schew things in our favor; this actually does the opposite.
Our average TOP per game was 27 minutes and 20 seconds.
In 12 games played so far, there have been a total of 703 minutes and 33 seconds played (keep in mind the WMU game didn't go the full 60 minutes. They only played for 43 minutes and 33 seconds). Of that time, Michigan's offense has possessed the ball for 384 minutes and 47 seconds, or roughly 55% of the time. The most our offense possessed the ball in a single game was 41:13, against Nebraska. The least we possessed the ball in a single game (not counting WMU) was 22:59, against Notre Dame. Our average TOP per game, not including WMU, is 33:35. If you include the WMU game, our average per game comes out to 31:10.
What does this mean?
Well, basically that Brady Hoke came out and accomplished one of the things he wanted to accomplish. Our offense increased their total TOP by 10%, which can't be a bad thing. Other than that, I don't think it really means much at all. Just another reason for Hoke and his staff to slap each other on the back and say "Good job."
What say the rest of ye?