Kick it off like we always do…
The early touchdown saw the unadjusted numbers drop below 30% but the spread adjustment kept the expectation at about 70% or above for the whole game.
Top 3 Plays:
Play #45, +12%, Robinson to Roundtree for 49 yards on 3rd and 20.
Play #73, +11%, Robinson to Gallon for 42 yards and 1st and Goal.
Play #67, +10%, Avery picks off the Marve deflection
Bottom 3 Plays:
Play #6, –18%, TerBush to Bush for 48 yards a Purdue lead.
Play #36, –9%, Robinson picked on third down.
Play #46, –9% Gardner picked for the first time this year.
The story of Saturday was mostly Fitz Toussaint, and rightfully so. His +7 on the day was the best mark for a Michigan running back on the season. In fact, other than Vincent Smith’s +6 against Eastern Michigan no Michigan back had even crossed +3 on the season.
The defense continues to do enough to allow the offense to take hold of the game. After four B1G games this season the defense has had a best Win Percent Added (WPA) of +6% from Saturday to a worst of –7% against Northwestern. That is a incredibly tight window to operate in and means that defense has essentially held serve in every B1G game this season. The offense is still doing the heavy lifting, but at least the defense isn’t adding to load this season.
Grades are in PAN (pts/game) and opponent adjusted.
Rush Offense: +3
Vincent Smith: +1
Pass Offense: +5
Rush Defense: +2
Pass Defense: +0
Special Teams: +1 (best of the year)
A little frustrated with the coverage on the Heisman this year. Apparently the NFL GM’s are now deciding who the best performer is in college football. This isn’t a knock on Andrew Luck, but just because the NFL says he is a sure thing, doesn’t automatically mean he is going to have the most deserving year. He has piled up good stats against bad teams so far and the conversation could still change.
Here are my ratings of the top contenders looking at both PAN and WPA.
Player, School: PAN (Rank), WPA (Rank)
Andrew Luck, Stanford: +6 (25th), +1.7 (8th)
Trent Richardson, Alabama: +4 (2nd RB), +.4 (11th)
Kellen Moore, Boise St: +11 (4th), +2.1 (4th)
Russell Wilson, Wisconsin: +13 (1st), +2.4 (1st)
Case Keenum , Houston: +13 (2nd), +2.2 (3rd)
Denard Robinson, Michigan: +6 (22nd), +2.2 (2nd)
Ron Zook Dumb Punt of the Week
Pickings were a little slimmer this week but this week’s award goes to the Will Muschamp and the Florida Gators. Trailing by 4 in the World’s Largest Non-Alcoholic but Actually a Total Drunkfest Party with a little over 8 minutes to go, the Gators faced 4th and 2 at the Georgia 37. This one works out for the Gators, even though they go on to lose, anyway. After taking a Delay of Game to give the punter more room (the first sign of a dumb punt), Florida manages to down the ball at the 4 and get a three and out. Florida gets the ball back at the 36, trading 2+ minutes on the clock to get a yard and a fresh set of downs, the Gators throw three straight incompletions and then go for the 4th and 10 but fail, never getting the ball back.
Projections and Ranking
If you missed it Monday I posted detailed odds for the B1G championship game. Michigan stands at 9.5% overall. Going 4-0 down the stretch bumps it up to nearly 40%. A loss to division foes Iowa or Nebraska effectively kills the chances where going 3-1 with a loss to either Illinois or Ohio still leaves the odds around 20%.
After an expected win last week against Purdue, the overall win projection for Michigan is relatively unchanged in between 9 and 10 wins.
Opp (Change vs last post)
@Iowa: 67% (-1%)
@Illinois: 55% (+6%)
Nebraska: 56% (-8%)
Ohio: 70% (-7%)
My Top 5
1. Oklahoma St
2. Boise St
15. Michigan St
19. Penn St
PAN, National Rank (leader), B1G Rank (leader)
Michigan: +5, 3rd (Georgia Tech), 1st
Iowa: +1, 53rd, 7th
Michigan: +2, 32nd (Boise), 4th (Wisconsin)
Iowa: –6, 118th, 11th
Michigan: +2, 25th (LSU), 5th (Michigan St)
Iowa: +3, 18th, 3rd
Michigan: +1, 43rd (Oklahoma St), 7th (Michigan St)
Iowa: +3, 23rd, 2nd
Michigan: 0, 88th (Florida St), 10th (Purdue)
Iowa: +1, 49th, 7th
The next three games are all slight Michigan favors before matching up with an improving Ohio team. A home game versus Iowa would make me more comfortable but I still think it goes our way, 37-30 Michigan.
One final note is that based on a little twitter prompting from @cdbarker I have begun work on a game-theory manifesto and it's going to be long, probably to be posted in December. Planned topics include: how to use timeouts, suprise on-side kicks, a better 2-point conversion chart and possibly a revisit of 4th down stategy. Hit me in the comments or @The_Mathlete with other things you would like to see.
Our first chart to end at the bottom
Best Three Plays:
Play 162: Keshawn Martin fumbles to give Michigan great field position, +13%.
Play 166: Robinson to Koger on 3rd and 13 sets up 4th and 1, +12%.
Play 117: Thomas Gordon strips Edwin Baker in the open field, +10%.
Worst Three Plays:
Play 172: Denard sacked on 4th and 1, –21%.
Play 178: Denard throws a pick 6, –15%.
Play 101: Cousins to Martin to give MSU it's first lead of the day, –11%.
Saturday was a day of missed opportunities. After fighting uphill all season on field position, Michigan’s offense finally had a chance to start from a strong point, and did nothing with the opportunity. Michigan’s field position for the game was worth 28 points (average offense vs average defense). Obviously they did not score 28 points. Michigan St’s field position was worth 18 points and they got 21 plus another 7 from the defense. When MSU had the ball the teams ended about equal, with MSU getting 3 more points than expected but also fumbling twice. The game was lost with Michigan’s offense, which should have gotten 28 points if they performed equally to the Spartan defense, but only netted 7. In terms of Win Percent Added, the defense was +4% and the offense was –54%.
Rush offense: +6
Pass offense: –5
Rush defense: –5
Pass defense: –2
Special Teams: -1
The grades look a bit different than the text above because the grades are opponent adjusted. It’s clear what worked and what didn’t on offense, but the play calling did not reflect the strength.
A look at how the major candidates are faring through the first seven weeks through the eyes of Win Percentage Added. Denard takes a big hit as Michigan suffers its first loss, but still holds the overall lead with over 2 full games won by himself.
Denard Robinson +2.11
Russell Wilson +1.73
Kellen Moore +1.62
Andrew Luck +1.26
Sammy Watkins +1.26
Landry Jones +1.01
Ryan Broyles +.66
Trent Richardson +.36
After a leap, Brian's favorite part, and yours.
This week’s take on the week that was, and the week to come.
Charting Michigan’s odds of winning throughout Saturday’s game: Brief bumps around the two first half TD’s and then a big climb throughout the third quarter.
Best Three Plays:
1. Denard to Roundtree for 57 yards, 16%
2. Hawthorne intercepts Persa, 14%
3. Kovacs shuts the door on the fourth down option, 13%
Worst Three Plays:
1. Denard Interception #1, –13%
2. Denard Interception #2, –11%
3. Denard Interception #3, –10%
So the three first half picks were the three most damaging plays of the day for Michigan, and Denard only had one play in the top 3. At the end of the day he still ended up +65%!
For the season, Denard’s Win Percentage Added stands at +265%. Each team starts at 50% so they have added 50% per game times 6 games is 300% added. The defense, special teams and non-Denard offensive players have accounted for a total of 35%. Denard’s number is far and away the top in the country so far. Second is Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas at +177%. Russell Wilson is next behind him at +158%.
Rush offense: –1, equal to ND for worst opponent adjusted performance of the season
Pass offense: +12, best of the season (Michigan’s best two games have both come despite 3 interceptions)
Rush defense: –3, worst performance of the season
Pass defense: +1, worst performance of the season
Special Teams: –2, 4th best of the season
Field Position: A rare win for Michigan, picking up a 23-22 win in expected points based on drive starts.
Denard was +12 (+10 passing, +2 rushing), second to ND on the season
Michael Shaw: +2
Vincent Smith: –1
Fitzgerald Toussaint: –5
(Expected value of offensives formations and more after the jump)
Not much to see on the Win Probability Chart this week. Michigan was a heavy favorite and shut the door early. After adjusting for the spread the chart imagines a conversation like this:
GopherBoy1960: Hey Chart, do we a shot to get the jug back today.
Chart: I wouldn’t get your hopes up. We are talking about single digit percents here.
GopherBoy1960: So you’re telling me there’s a chance.
LloydBrady: Hey, that’s my line.
Chart: Technically you have a chance but oh wait, just turned the game on and your chance is now zero. Hope you enjoyed your two minutes of hope.
GopherBoy1960: I miss Glen Mason.
Biggest plays of the day (from the unadjusted numbers)
1. Fitzgerald Toussaint rushes for 35 yards on the fourth play of the day, +7%
2. Denard scores from 9 yards out to push the lead to 14, +6%
3. Denard goes for 18 yards to the Minnesota 3 to set up Michigan’s first score, +5%
Worst plays of the day (and there weren’t many)
1. The first appearance of Fritz loses 4 yards, –4%
2. Michael Shaw loses a yard to set up 3rd down inside the 10, –2%
3. Dan Orseske boots a 64 yard punt with no return after Minnesota goes 3 and out, –2%
After the jump, projections, rankings, and a Northwestern preview.
With four weeks under our belts, all numbers move to in-season only. No preseason adjustments anywhere. Everything is currently opponent adjusted as well. It’s still early in the season so the next 2-3 weeks will still show some weird anomalies but based on history, four weeks is what it takes to start to get an accurate read on what teams will do this season.
Three biggest plays for Michigan:
1. Vincent Smith’s 32 yard run through to the 5, 10% added.
2. Denard Robinson 53 yards on the speed option, 8% added.
3. Ronnie Hillman’s first fumble, 7% added.
Three worst plays for Michigan:
1. Vincent Smith’s fumble, 7% lost.
2. Ryan Lindley 16 yard TD pass, 3% lost.
3. Ryan Lindley 9 yard pass on third down early in the second quarter, 3% lost.
The Fourth Down Call
Brian is in love with it, but how much was it worth? Punt from 48 gets to the 17. Team down 14 with the ball around the 17 with 2-3 minutes left in the first half win about 8.0% of the time. A successful conversion gives Michigan a 93.2% chance of victory where a failed attempt drops your chances to 88.2%. To break even, Michigan would need to have a confidence that they had about a 75% chance of conversion. National average on 3rd and 2 is about 58.5%. Michigan has been a top 25 level 3rd and short team so the decision was probably about a break even if you account for Michigan’s offense.
This case is a bit closer than I expected, but if you believe our offense was bound to score, which it obviously did, a 21 point half time lead is good for a 97.1% chance of victory. Even if Michigan can get a field goal and run out the clock, an average conversion rate makes the decision break even.
Ultimately, the decision in and of itself may not have been a true EV+ but it opens the door of optimism that Coach Hoke is willing to go EV+ and close the close door that he EV-.
Win odds on specific situations like this are fairly accurate but still prone to some sample size issues. Typical sample size on these situations was around 120 games, not small but a swing of a game or two can distort the numbers.
My top 5: 1- LSU 2-Wisconsin 3-Georgia Tech 4-Oklahoma St. 5-Alabama
Big Ten Rankings: 10-Illinois 21-Nebraska 29-Michigan 32-Penn St 34-Michigan St 38-Iowa 83(!)-Ohio St 102-Purdue 103-Minnesota 108-Indiana 110-Northwestern
Big Ten: Not a good start to the year as the Big Ten finds four teams in the bottom 20 and only 2 in the top 20.
Minnesota’s numbers are a little weak right now. I don’t include FCS opponents which would knock down the Gophers further but the strong performance against USC is also excluded as its one of two games this year without a play by play available from the NCAA.
Michigan: +5, 7th Nationally (Georgia Tech), 1st Big Ten
Minnesota: –1, 84th, 9th
Denard Robinson: +4 rushing, 7th among QBs rushing (Collin Klein, Kansas St)
Fitzgerald Toussaint: +1, 64th RB (Orwin Smith, GT)
Michigan: +0, 62nd (Boise), 7th (Wisconsin)
Minnesota: –6, 117th, 12th
Denard Robinson: +0 passing, 83rd (Kellen Moore, Boise St)
Michigan: +2, 30th (Louisville), 4th (Illinois)
Minnesota: –2, 89th, 11th
MarQueis Gray: +5 rushing, 2nd among QBs
Duane Bennett: –3, 183 out of 191 rated RBs, last in Big Ten
Michigan: +0, 63rd (UCF), 7th (Illinois)
Minnesota: +0, 60th, 6th
MarQueis Gray: +4 passing, 43rd
Da’Jon McKnight: +6 receiving, 45th
Michigan: –.46 pts/drive, 112th (Boise), 12th (Ohio St)
Minnesota: +.27 pts/drive, 26th, 4th
Michigan: –1.2, 93rd (Auburn), 12th (Purdue)
Minnesota: –0.3, 79th, 9th
Michigan: +6, 8th (Rutgers), 1st
Minnesota: +2, 39th, 7th
Prediction: With an active QB and a dangerous receiver, Minnesota has just enough weapons to but a bit of doubt, but Michigan holds a huge advantage with the ball. Michigan by a couple TD’s, 35-17
Projections for the rest of the season
There is a still a lot of volatility in the numbers right now, but based on year to date performance, Michigan is currently projected at just over 9 wins on the season. I expect a fair number of game odds to swing but as of now, here are the remaining games and the current projections of Michigan winning.
At Northwestern: 94%
At Michigan St: 35%
At Iowa: 39%
At Illinois: 16%
Ohio St: 88%
Some of those are clearly out of whack right now, but the numbers love Illinois’ defense and are projecting Ohio St to go 5-7 and miss a bowl based on current performance. Odds of going 12-0 are currently at 1 in 118.
Even though the first quarter was pretty ugly, the defense’s ability to keep EMU out of the end zone kept the game from ever getting below 30%. Once the offense found its groove in the second quarter, the odds turned around quickly. By the middle of the third quarter, the game was officially out of reach.
One of the requests from last week was to see what the chart would look like based on the relative strengths of the teams. Since the Notre Dame game had a pretty tight spread the chart would be essentially the same as the one you saw, especially in the wild fourth quarter. For last week against EMU, that was a very different story.
The first chart showed EMU’s odds nearing 70% at one point, but that was assuming the teams were of similar skill. That is obviously not the case. To adapt, I have added a second chart that takes the 30.5 point spread and brings that into the game.
For the graph to work, Michigan is spotted the points at the beginning of the game and the value is gradually reduced over the course of the game. At halftime, the 30.5 point spread is calculated at 50% or 15.25 points. The result is a dramatically different and much more realistic chart. When assuming the teams were equal, EMU exceeded a 2/1 advantage at one point. When factoring team strengths in, they didn’t even crack 10%.
Michigan’s rank in opponent adjusted PAN. At this point the opponent adjusted is still fairly weak but it does have some value. Because Michigan is EMU’s first FBS opponent, there is no opponent adjustment and EMU is assumed to be an average-caliber team, which is surely not the case. There will be discrepancies like this for most teams.
Rush Offense: +5, 8th in the nation (Georgia Tech), 1st in Big Ten
Pass Offense: +2, 48th (Baylor), 6th (Wisconsin)
Offensive Field Position: 1.67 expected points/drive, 114th (Ohio (NTO)), 12th (MSU)
Rush Defense: +3!, 17th (LSU), 3rd (Penn St)
Pass Defense: +1, 46th (Illinois), 4th (Illinois)
Total Offense: +7, 21st (Oregon), 3rd (Wisconsin)
Total Defense: +4, 28th (LSU), 4th (Illinois)
Defensive Field Position: 2.19 expected points/drive, 102nd (EMU), 12th (Wisconsin)
Special Teams: –2, 98th (Auburn), 11th (Purdue)
Total: +9, 25th (LSU), 3rd (Wisconsin)
Turnovers: +8, 5th (Wyoming), 1st
I wouldn’t read too much into the rankings at this point as the opponent factor is still very early but it does give some good directional information. It should be noted that when comparing teams to their preseason expectations, Michigan is still ranked in the 50s but when you compare to how they have performed so far this year, the ranking goes into the 20s.
So far the defense has established that it can create opportunities for success, and that’s better than we’ve seen for a while. The offense has held onto decent numbers despite sporadic results. We would all like to see more consistency from the offense but a TD and a three and out are still better than 2 long drives and a couple of FG attempts.
Field position and special teams continue to be major issues and ones that contribute to some of the unexpected positivity in the offensive and defensive numbers. Both units have faced some of the worst field position which has given them a chance at bigger points.
San Diego St Preview
Michigan Rush: +5, 8th
Denard Robinson +4, 4th in QB rushing nationally
Fitzgerald Toussaint +2, 39th ranked RB nationally
SDSU Rush Defense: +1, 47th
Michigan Pass: +2, 48th
Denard Robinson +3, 51st in passing (individual numbers differ from team because sacks are excluded from individual numbers)
SDSU Pass Defense: +4, 23rd
SDSU Rush: +3, 26th
Ronnie Hillman +5, 6th ranked RB
Michigan Rush Defense: +3, 17th
SDSU Pass: +1, 59th
Ryan Lindley, +1, 67th QB (significant drop from last year under Borges when Lindley was +5 and a top 25 QB)
Michigan Pass Defense: +1, 46th
San Diego St hasn’t shown any breakout defensive playmakers so far this season. Jerome Long on the DL has the most plays made with 9 worth 4 points for the defense. Larry Parker leads the secondary with 8 plays for +7 and Jake Fealy is the top linebacker with 7 plays for +5.
Jordan Kovacs ranks third in the nation and is the top non-linebacker in defensive points with +14 on 6 plays. Kenny Demens is 20th with 13 plays made for +6. Hawthorne, Thomas Gordon, RVB and Jibreel Black are the other players with at least 6 plays made.
Michigan Special Teams: –2, 98th
SDSU Special Teams: +0, 64th
It looks like a pretty even matchup when the Aztecs have the ball but Michigan should be able to put some points up, even if they can’t find the higher gear consistently.