would be a historical study of the effect of penalties on game outcomes. Just how much do the refs really control who wins? Just how valuable is it to be a disciplined team?
Historic Comparison: Penalties in the Michigan vs. Iowa Game
Below is an analysis of historical data on penalties in the Michigan-Iowa game dating back to 2003. (FYI - The "Against" row lists penalties called against Michigan and the total yardage lost and the "For" row lists penalties called against Iowa and the total yardage gained due to these penalties.)
|Win/Loss||Loss||Win||Win||Win||DNP||DNP||Loss||Record - 3-2|
Based on the data, Michigan has averaged 4.2 penalties per game as compared to Iowa's average of 6.4 penalties per game. Not nearly as big of a disparity as the 4 penalty-per-game difference between Michigan and Michigan State, but a slight advantage nonethelss. Interestingly, Michigan has been very consistent historically at around 4 penalties per game for about 40 yards lost per game in most rivalries that I have researched. And Michigan appears to be on that same track this year (with the one abberation coming against Notre Dame in Week 2).
|2010||Week 1||Week 2||Week 3||Week 4||Week 5||Week 6||Totals||Averages|
What it means for Saturday: In a game where Michigan's offense is facing a strong defense and gaining yards may be more difficult than usual, penalties (like turnovers) can play a large role. If you see 4 penalties from Michigan for 40 yards then do not fret. However, if you see a flood of penalties from Michigan it might have a real impact on the game. That's probably an obvious statement, but still something to consider nonetheless.
My ability to gather historical data is very limited - I was able to go back to 2003 but have not been able to reach beyond that year. The information on penalties in the Michigan State game was revealing, with Spartie clearly being less disciplined over the past 7 years (at least on paper) than Michigan. The Iowa data is less drastic but still shows Michigan to be more disciplined, at least in this matchup. It'll be interesting to see how this Saturday pans out.
The folks at FO looked at NFL penalties:
Teams with more offensive penalties generally lose more games, but there is no correlation between defensive penalties and losses.
Defensive penalties often represent strong defensive play that goes just over the line between legal and illegal. As long as penalties are only called every so often, this kind of close play leads to successful defense.
Not sure if this holds (no pun intended) for college also.
You can thank that fucking douchebag Dave Witvoet and his crew for that gift. Their calls and non-calls were equally terrible, hence the disparity above, and the result in the books.
"However, if you see a flood of penalties from Michigan it might have a real impact on the game."
Ummm, gee, ya think? Michigan and its fans clearly aren't accustomed to getting the short end of the stick in this area. Your outrage after the 2005 Alamo Bowl illustrates my point well. Getting shafted like that vs. a higher profile program happens almost annually to programs like Iowa (again, see Michigan 2005), who all too often need to beat not just the other team, but the stripes as well.
Here's to a curbstomping so nasty it won't matter, a la 2002 - GO HAWKS