national champs baby
The Weekly Maths: Writin’ Irish
Since Notre Dame is the first “real” opponent Michigan plays this year with any actual 2012 data, I’ll be forgoing a themed post and taking a deeper look at the Irish.
At this point in the season there aren’t quite enough results to truly adjust for opponents, but directionally, the strength of schedule is going to be relatively similar between the two programs. This should help offset the fact that until October, it’s difficult to do a quality strength of schedule offset.
Average points expected based on the offense’s starting field position vs actual points scored on those drives. Only drives non-half ending drives in the first half and second half drives within 14 points counted.
Michigan offense: 47 expected, 80 actual
Notre Dame offense: 55 expected, 61 actual
Michigan defense: 48 expected, 54 actual
Notre Dame defense: 51 expected, 23 actual
When Notre Dame has the ball, both sides have been pretty average. Both the Irish offense and the Michigan defense are less than a touchdown from the the expected output of a typical side. When Michigan has the ball both sides are decidedly non-average. Michigan is nearly doubling the expected output while the Notre Dame defense has allowed four fewer touchdowns than an average team would expect over the first three games.
In the last two weeks Notre Dame has pulled out wins while scoring a modest 20 points. I think Michigan will like their chances if Notre Dame only scores 20 this week. It will be interesting to see which matchup will be key in dictating the outcome, the highly publicized Michigan offense versus ND defense or the quieter matchup of the Irish offense against Michigan’s defense.
Early season results tend to skew to the offensive side of the ball. In a couple of weeks the opponent adjustment factor will take that but until then, you’ll see numbers that are a bit high and unadjusted.
Group: EV (points per game vs average-positive good, negative bad), National Rank
Michigan Offense: Rush: +8 (16), Pass: +7, (32)
Notre Dame Defense: Rush: +3 (24), +3 (28)
Michigan Defense: Rush: -6 (100), Pass: +0 (41)
Notre Dame Offense: Rush: +4 (49), Pass: +4 (43)
If you focus on the rankings instead of the absolute numbers you drr two pretty evenly matched teams. Michigan’s rush defense is the key outlier, but the Air Force game drives that to be a (hopefully) temporary outlier.
Defending Michigan’s run game will be a very different sort of challenge than Le’Veon Bell and the All-
Two-Stars the Irish shut down last week. The personnel is in place for the Irish, so it could very well come down to an RPS contest between coordinators.
Player: EV (National Rank), Win percent added (National Rank)
Denard Robinson-All: +47 (1st), +93% (5th)
Denard Robinson-Pass: +21 (16th), +39% (20th)
Denard Robinson-Rush: +26 (1st), +54% (3rd)
Everett Golston: +9 (84th), +23% (64th)
Despite only logging two games worth of countable time, Denard checks in at first nationally in points created with 47, and points created on the ground (including running backs) with 26. His passing has even held up well with 21 points created, a number only bettered by 15 other quarterbacks. Golston hasn’t been bad but he hasn’t set the world on fire either.
I didn’t bother to post the running back numbers. Due to suspensions and slow starts, none of the three prominent backs in Saturday’s matchup have registered much on a national scale.
Devin Funchess: +13 (22nd), +30% (39th)
Jeremy Gallon: +7 (102nd), +5% (326th)
Drew Dileo: +6 (129th), +6% (326th)
Devin Gardner: +5 (158th), +12% (154th)
Tyler Eifert: +7 (90th), +18% (85th)
TJ Jones: +5 (170th), -10%
Davaris Daniels: +4 (211th), +10% (195th)
Robby Toma: +4 (213th), +38% (19th)
John Goodman: +4 (216th), +33% (31st)
Notre Dame has spread the wealth around to a variety of receivers, although most Michigan fans are thrilled that there are four guys to list for us, even if Roy Roundtree doesn’t even crack the list. Funchess is the headliner with 13 points created, good for 22nd nationally. What the Irish receiving corps lacks for points created they make up for in success in high leverage situations. Eifert, Toma and Goodman are all top-100 at this point, although the WPA stat can vary wildly at this point in the season.
At this point I have Michigan as a slightly better team but the home field swings the margin to the Irish. While I have been on board with Notre Dame having a strong season, I don’t see them as the favorite Vegas has installed them. This game is a coin flip and as noted above, could swing on a variety of factors. Can Notre Dame contain Denard on the ground without exposing their sparse secondary? Will Michigan push for the pass with the same game plan they’ve deployed in their last three losses? Will there be a breakout game for either the Irish offense or the Michigan defense?
Hopefully Michigan can make it four in a row. Another dramatic finish would be great but a blowout in South Bend would be better. Love Michigan and the points but straight up the numbers call for a narrow Irish win. Hopefully they’re just a little bit wrong.
Michigan 27, Notre Dame 28
UMass Game Notes
D. Robinson: 28 plays, +26, +38%
F. Toussaint: 11 plays, +3, +7%
M. Wegzyn: 24 plays, -2, -3%
M. Cox: 11 plays, -1, -3%
Pretty boring stuff this week, the kind of game you want as a 45 point favorite. I didn’t bother to add the adjustment based on spread because it just would have been a straight line across the top.