to play football, not to play trumpet
Now that Brian has burned through the position previews and depth charts in beautiful excruciating detail, there is little for me to add to the personnel side, so I wanted to look a little deeper at the schedule portion to see how we got to the 8-4 I projected last week.
I also wanted to add a bit of addendum to the Denard struggles on passing downs meme, so to not clutter the site any further I have dropped that at the end of this column for those interested.
Throughout the season, I will be posting a weekly column on Wed/Thurs. I will try and pick out interesting tidbits and trends from the numbers as the week goes. If you have any questions you would like to see answered in the column or ideas on angles, don’t hesitate to hit me up on the twitters.
As always, your handy reference guide is here.
So which are the 8 wins?
Well, it doesn’t really work that way. Obviously no game is certain and no prediction is either. To get to 8-4 I assign values to each team based on the prior three seasons' performance and returning starters at QB and defense. These are factors that I have found significantly improve a season’s forecast.
Each team is then pitted against their schedule, accounting for home field which is worth about 3 points for the home team each game. Each game then gets a spread and a likelihood of winning. When you play out those probabilities, some seasons ended up with as few as 1 win and some ended up with 12. Nearly three quarters ended up with seven, eight or nine wins. My calculated odds of missing out on a bowl are about 1 in 29, about the same odds of winning 11. Going 12-0 is rated at 1 in 327. This is all assuming that Michigan plays at the projected level. If they play better or worse than I have projected, the numbers can and will change.
All that was to say, the eight wins and the four losses change each scenario. The most likely version has losses to Ohio, Nebraska, Michigan St and Notre Dame, but even that scenario is only a 1 in 60 shot. In fact the most likely specific scenario is 6-6 with losses to Illinois and Iowa added to the mix, but that’s still a 1 in 55 shot.
In summary, here is how the percentages break out:
The Individual Teams
|Opponent||2010 PAN||2008-'09 Avg||Returning Starters||Total PAN||Michigan Odds|
|San Diego St||6.3||-6.0||-0.6||-0.5||85%|
The numbers quickly break out into four groups:
Eastern Michigan and Minnesota coming into the Big House without much hope. Eastern was bad every year considered and only gets a slight uptick from returning starters. No points awarded for hiring Mike Hart.
Minnesota saw last year plummet below already-low-for-a-Big-Ten-team values and returning starters push them down slightly further.
Just Don’t Screw It Up
Western Michigan, San Diego St, Purdue, and at Northwestern all seem pretty safe on their own, but there is only a 55% chance we go 4-0 in these four games. Successfully do that and a nine-win season becomes a more attainable. Dropping one or more will make it tougher to top last season’s win total in the regular season.
Notre Dame, at Iowa and at Illinois all place Michigan a percent or two below 50/50. 5-2 between these last two groups keeps us on pace to 8 wins. Iowa overachieved last year but is brought down to earth thanks to a depleted roster. Illinois is heading in the opposite direction after [NAME REDACTED] made one last run to save his job. Notre Dame is the highest rated of the bunch as Brian Kelly begins to purge the Weis ratings from the books. The Domers get the benefit of a strong returning group but are in the mix with Iowa and Illinois thanks to an under the lights meet-up in Ann Arbor.
There’s a Clock for That
OK, so we don’t have a countdown clock for that school down south and four states over (Nebraska), but Ohio and State form the last group. To hold serve on an 8-win season, expect one win out of this group. Ohio has been the cream of the Big Ten for the last several years, but graduation and Tressel-gate have dropped the Buckeyes into the mix. Michigan State and Nebraska both saw 6+ point improvements last season and have a decent group returning. Nebraska should definitely be the better team, but they won’t have the luxury of home field.
PS: Denard and Passing Downs
In general, my data supports what Burgeoning Wolverine Star found on Denard and passing downs. I was curious about which down and distances that Denard excelled and what was their value. For the season, Denard was a non-opponent-adjusted +70 for the season. This includes rushes, passes, sacks, fumbles, picks, everything but garbage time. This is a huge number.
I broke down where the +70 came from situationally.
|Down & Distance||PAN|
|2nd & Long (8-10)||21.5|
|1st & 10||21.2|
|2nd & Med (4-7)||18.7|
|3rd & Short (1-3)||12.0|
|2nd & Short (1-3)||6.9|
|3rd & Med (4-7)||1.5|
|2nd & XL (11+)||(0.4)|
|3rd & Long (8-10)||(4.9)|
|3rd & XL (11+)||(6.6)|
Denard was light years ahead on 1st and 2nd down but considerably below average on 3rd down with at least 8 yards to go. In fact, he was pretty good at 3rd and short and started quickly falling from there.
Ultimately, as long as the offense didn’t lose ground on first down they were still in good shape. Denard could turn a mediocre 1st down around quickly, but if Michigan wasn’t able to get into a third down distance that was manageable, the offense quickly become below average.
Lous Holtz predicts that Michigan will win 9-10 games. Lou Holtz is ALWAYS wrong, you do the math,
In the wake of his suspension/non-suspension last month, Bruce Feldman moves to CBS, blasting ESPN on the way out...
"On top of that, six months before the book went to print, I spoke to ESPN's attorneys and talked to them about some concerns I had raised to news editors in Bristol while it was going on, of things that I knew were inaccurate. Those conversations happened. There was no surprise about any of this. But when the book finally came out, [ESPN executive vice president of production] Norby Williamson or [ESPN senior vice president and director of news] Vince Doria or whomever gets all bent out of shape and they need someone to rant at.
"I was literally the first hire on what became ESPN.com when I was in Bristol in my mid-20s. This is the way they treat you. To watch them sit there and try to spin their way out of this and only make it worse. They made such a mess, and then they never cleaned it up.
"I'll tell you this: A few weeks before I was on that conference call, my contract was coming up and Belsky had reached out to me and said, 'Look, we want to give you another three-year contract and it will be with a raise. I said, 'OK.' But when I brought that up on the conference call, Vince Doria started bringing up credibility questions. That was the word he used with me -- credibility. I'm thinking, 'Wait a minute, you are bringing up my credibility and my future with the company and you guys still put Craig James on the air?'"
Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/richard_deitsch/09/01/brucefeldman.cbs/index.html#ixzz1WjN6638d
I'm sure this will be linked to on the front page sometime soon, but it is an absolute must-read:
St. Ed's O-Line (minus Kalis). Duane Long's Top Ten doesn't have room for all of them. (Image: Lonnie Timmons | Cleveland.com)
This is an addendum to Ace's Thursday Recruiting today. In that post Ace noted he was worried Long's prO-hio biases might have led him to leave some important future Wolverines off the list:
Meanwhile, Duane Long has rated 11-50 of his top 50 prospects in Ohio [parts 1, 2, 3, and 4], and here's the Michigan commits included so far: Tom Strobel (12), Pharaoh Brown (17), Jarrod Wilson (18), Joe Bolden (26), A.J. Williams (31), and Caleb Stacey(48). That means Kyle Kalis and Chris Wormley are almost assuredly in his top ten, but it'll be interesting to see if Kaleb Ringer and Allen Gant make the cut or are (unjustifiably, in my somewhat-biased opinion) left off the list entirely. For context, the #50 prospect, Mason Monheim, is unrated on Rivals and holds offers from Illinois and a handful of MAC schools.
Here's a list of guys rated highly by Rivals who did not make the Top 50 (yet):
|Kyle Kalis||OL||St. Edward||****||Michigan|
|Se'von Pittman||DE||McKinley||****||Michigan State|
|Josh Perry||LB||Olentangy||****||Ohio State|
|Kyle Dodson||OL||Cleveland Heights||****||Wisconsin|
|Warren Ball||RB||St. Francis DeSales||****||Ohio State|
|Bri'onte Dunn||RB||Glenoak||****||Ohio State|
|Chris Davis||ATH||Austintown Fitch||***||Pittsburgh|
|Demitrious Davis||ATH||Austintown Fitch||***||Pittsburgh|
|Allen Gant||DB||Sylvania Southview||***||Michigan|
|Anthony Stanko||OL||Howland||***||Penn State|
|Sam Grant||TE||St. Edward||***||Boston College|
|Ryan Leahy||DE||La Salle||***||Cincinnati|
|Greg Kuhar||DT||St. Edward||***||Northwestern|
|Tyler Orlosky||OL||St. Edward||***||West Virginia|
|T.C. Klusman||OL||Elder High School||***||Louisville|
|Ross Martin||K||Walsh Jesuit||***||Duke|
Thats' 26 dudes with BCS offers and whatnot. Long has 6 guys in his Top 50 who aren't rated by Rivals yet. Those guys and their offers:
|Name||Long's Rk||Pos||Best offers|
|DeShawn Dowdy||27||WR/TE||WVa., Cincy, Iowa St|
|James Sanford||34||DB||MSU, Cincy, BG|
|Eric Williams||37||QB||Cincy, Toledo, EMU|
|Terrell Jackson||42||DE||Duke, CMU, Ohio (NTO)|
|Mason Monheim||50||LB||Illinois, Miami (NTM), Akron|
Dawson is a legit freak athlete none of the sites (Scout, ESPN, 247) have heard of except Rivals, and they little more than his name. Scouting Ohio lists his deeds as a running back, but Long is excited about him as a DT. I couldn't find any schools that offered since he apparently has grade issues that will likely see him head to a JUCO and reemerge at some SEC school in 2 years. The rest have maybe one BCS offer (if you count the Big East as BCS). This is the level one must pass to be in the Top 50. If you might fit that description, you are not in the Top 50. That about does it for Klusman, Kuhar, Leahy, Draper, S.Smith, and A.Jones. Spencer, Anthony Stanko and the Austintown Finch athlete Davis duo might have an argument for Top 30 but not Top 10.
Mortal Locks: (3) Ifeadi Odenigbo, Kyle Kalis, Bri'onte Dunn. Each were mentioned in reviews of the other guys in a context of almost/just as good as...
Almost Certainly: (3) Se'Von Pittman, Adolphus Washington, Greg McMullen. Long has been all-up-on's for these guys all year. They are consistently rated the tops in their respective positions, or near enough to it because they all play the same position (...as Wormley and Odenigbo too)
Because it's Long you know he'll have: (2) Warren Ball, Josh Perry. Two more 4-star guys committed to Ohio State. Eight other OSU commits (every one but Pat Elflein) have already been profiled, and Ball, Perry and Dunn (see mortal locks) are OSU's three most highly rated recruits this year.
"Is _____ better than a MAC player?"
Why: He's the last consensus 4-star not among the pretty.
Why not: Ohio State and Michigan passed on Mount Dodson -- Wisconsin likes road graders but Long does not necessarily share that opinion.
Is he better than a MAC player: Absolutely.
Why: Long once said Grant might be the best among the St Ed's group, which includes Kalis and previously profiled Darryl Render.
Why not: The nice things slowed when the Ohio State offer didn't materialize.
Is he better than a MAC player: Probably.
Why: Long has long had Ringer listed as his top linebacker in Ohio.
Why not: Concerns about his size. Wolverine.
Is he better than a MAC player: Absolutely
Why: As of March made Long's 1st team All-Ohio, ahead of Pittman and McMullen; Washington was starting SDE.
Why not: Wolverine.
Is he better than a MAC player: Uh....
Why: Most sites rate Gant higher than Bradley.
Why not: Wolverine. Son of Wolverine. Long may think Sylvania is part of Michigan. Also it's almost certain Gant won't make the Top 10 because Bradley's writeup called Bam the second-best safety in the class, and Jarrod Wilson was placed above him.
Better than a MAC player: Pretty sure.
Why: He's a really good QB
Why not: Long has been pretty consistently leaving Mauk off lists since last year.
Better than a MAC player: Probably.
Why: Like Grant a St. Ed's guy ahead of Render. Long called Orlosky "the most underrated lineman in the state" and put him 2nd team at both guard positions ahead of #44 Jacoby Boren (YTB), but behind Michigan's Stacey (48) and MSU's McGowan (14).
Why not: Behind #48 means out of the running.
Better than a MAC player: Yes.
Why: Might be the best kicker prospect in the country this year
Why not: Is a kicker
Better than a MAC player: Yes.
Best guess is Wormley almost has to get one spot unless Long has found a reason to hate him (other than committing to Michigan). Ringer is a good bet for the last one, being the top LB in the state and all. That still leaves Gant off the list. However there's plenty of reason to think some of these other guys might take their places, especially Dodson and Grant. That could mean some of M's recruits are slipping, or that I just need to learn to take Duane Long lists with a Bleacher Report serving of salt.
To quote our beloved founder, it is what it says on the tin. Thoughts on the tie-breaker system?
[NOTE - Sharp-eyed user Alton went to the Big 10 website to confirm, and notes that ESPN botched their description of the system. To avoid confusion, I deleted ESPN's synopsis altogether. Note that the first few comments are responding to the botched ESPN synopsis of the tie-breaker rules, so if they seem off-base that's why. APOLOGIES to the board for trusting ESPN. The ESPN link for the curious is http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/6915364/big-ten-teams-not-eligible-bowl-game-play-title-game.]
Here's the lay of the land, per the Big 10 website:
The following procedure will determine the representative from each division in the event of a tie: a.If two teams are tied, the winner of the game between the two tied teams shall be the representative b.If three or more teams are tied, steps 1 through 7 will be followed until a determination is made. If only two teams remain tied after any step, the winner of the game between the two tied teams shall be the representative. 1.The records of the three tied teams will be compared against each other 2.The records of the three tied teams will be compared within their division 3.The records of the three teams will be compared against the next highest placed teams in their division in order of finish (4, 5, and 6) 4.The records of the three teams will be compared against all common conference opponents; 5.The highest ranked team in the first Bowl Championship Series Poll following the completion of Big Ten regular season conference play shall be the representative in the Big Ten Championship Game, unless the two highest ranked tied teams are ranked within one spot of each other in the BCS poll. In this case, the head-to-head results of the top two ranked tied teams shall determine the representative in the Big Ten Championship 6.The team with the best overall winning percentage [excluding exempted games] shall be the representative 7.The representative will be chosen by random draw.