Mike Lantry, 1972
[Ed.: Instead of throwing my internet connection through a window I'm going to bump this Mathlete post. Thank you for your UFR-related patience. Also argh.]
In honor of Michigan’s final home game of the 2010 season, I decided to look a little deeper at the true value that home field holds.
The generally accepted value is that home field is worth about 3 points. Over the last 7 years that value has held fairly true. The average from 2004 to 2010 has been a 2.8 point per game advantage for the home team. 2004 and 2007 were big years for the home teams, with the home teams holding a 3.5 points per game advantage whereas in all other years the number was closer to 2.5 points per game.*
*All point references in this article are based on my PAN metric and are opponent adjusted, exclude games against FCS opponents and exclude garbage time situations.
Home field advantage is one of those things it is very difficult to pin point from game to game but it’s effects are very present over the broader scope. That isn’t to say however that there aren’t differences between how the effect plays out for different teams or even conferences.
Big House Advantage
Last year saw the Wolverines have their biggest disparity between home and road performance at nearly a touchdown per game. Most of the last several years have been between 1 and 2 points per game, less than the national average.
Michigan has seen more advantage come from the defense than the offense.
Although the overall level of home field advantage has been lower at Michigan than other places, the general splits are roughly in line. Teams tend to get a slightly bigger advantage from the defense than the offense and Michigan is near the middle of the pack in special teams and penalty disparity.
From 2004 to 2010 the WAC and Conf USA teams saw the biggest difference between the performance at home and the performance on the road. The Big East, MAC and even the liquored up SEC fans saw the lowest difference between home and road results, all coming in at less than 2 points per game over the last seven years.
For individual teams, home field has meant big things for some teams and been a disadvantage for a few. The lures of Hawaii and Las Vegas are perhaps too much for opponents as the Warriors and the Rebels lead the nation in home field advantage at more than double the national average. Bob Stoops at Oklahoma has come under fire for his road performance and rightfully so. This year the Sooners are fourth in home/road splits and they are third over the last seven years.
In The Big Ten
Since home field advantage isn’t necessarily about how well teams play at home but about how much better a team plays at home versus on the road, sometimes some unlikely teams pop to the top of the list. Iowa tops the list at over 4 points per game but Indiana and Purdue are in the top half of the spread. Michigan is one of the lowest in the Big Ten at less than 2 points per game. South Bend certainly wasn’t a decided locational advantage - the Fighting Irish are one of only five teams to average better performances on the road than at home over the last seven years.
What does it all mean
There is obviously an advantage to playing at home that affects all facets of the game. It is very difficult to pinpoint where the advantage is in any specific game but over a large set of games the advantages really start to show. Even though only five teams were worse at home than on the road over the last seven years, 102 out of 120 teams had at least one season where their road scores were higher than their home scores.
With two games left in the regular season the total picture is starting to come into focus, and it’s right where a lot of us thought it would be going in, 7-8 wins for the season. With a home date against Wisconsin this week and then a trip to Columbus, I have a 46% shot at staying at 7, a 48% chance of splitting and going 8-4 and a slim 6% chance of running the table.
Sure we got a little carried away after another hot start and we got doom and gloom during the rough October stretch, but with two games left, at the top level this team is where many of us expected. Yeah, the offense has been better than we hoped at times and the defense has been worse than we feared at times, but add it all up and for the most part it makes sense.
With all the turnovers generating field position for the offenses, this game had a 32-29 advantage for Michigan in terms of expected points based on field position. The offenses responded with essentially a 21-9 result. Michigan offense under performed the field position by 11 points (12 if you count the special teams costing an extra point) and Michigan’s defense held Purdue 20 points below their expected points, not too mention adding a touchdown of their own. Yakety Sax it was.
Michigan rush: +2
Michigan pass: +2
Purdue rush: +0
Purdue pass: –13
Denard: +8 pass, +1 rush, –1 punt!
Tate: –2 pass, –1 rush
V Smith: +2
S Hopkins: –1
M Shaw: –1
R Roundtree: +8
D Stonum: +0
J Hemingway: +5
K Koger: +3
M Webb: +3
Big Ten Race
Based on remaining win probabilities and my best understanding of the tiebreaker procedures, here are my Big Ten Auto-berth odds:
Michigan St: 30%
Ohio St: 19%
15% chance that everyone ends with at least two losses and craziness really ensues.
Based on suggestions last week I moved to a loss-penalty (-5 pts PAN) and am now ranking teams based on a loss-adjusted PAN.
|5||Oklahoma St||Big XII||19.6||2.95||1|
|8||Ohio St||Big Ten||15.2||-0.40||1|
|10||Michigan St||Big Ten||13.3||2.36||1|
|15||Texas A&M||Big XII||20.6||4.91||3|
FWIW Michigan checks in at #33
Rush Offense vs Purdue
Michigan Off: +8, 2nd nationally, 1st Big Ten
Purdue Def: +0, 54th, 6th
Denard Robinson: +7, 1st nationally
Michael Shaw: +1, 7th in Big Ten (RB only)
Vincent Smith: +0, 10th in Big Ten
For the first time all season Michigan put up a huge day on the ground without Denard having a big day rushing. Shaw, Smith and Hopkins all had strong days against a very good defense. Purdue’s defense has been consistently average. All of their games so far this year have been between +4 and –2.
Last week proved that the offense can be big even without Denard gaining hundreds of yards on the ground. Purdue’s consistent averageness makes a strong day very likely. Let’s hope that the backs can continue their progress from last week and Denard can limit his carries enough to make it through a full game.
Prediction: Michigan +8
Pass Offense vs Purdue
Michigan Off: +5, 10th, 1st
Purdue Def: +1, 48th, 5th
Denard Robinson: +5, 5th in Big Ten, 23rd nationally
Junior Hemingway: +6 5th, 28th
Roy Roundtree: +6, 7th, 34th
Darryl Stonum: +3, 15th
Despite two early interceptions and a host of drops, Michigan’s two-headed passing attack produced one of their top two games of the season. Roundtree and Hemingway produced most of the highlights but Stonum added several key catches as well. It was far and away Michigan’s best Big Ten performance since Indiana and considering the stakes last weekend, probably their best showing of the year through the air.
Purdue’s pass defense has been all over the map. They have produced very good games against Wisconsin and Minnesota but have been terrible against Illinois and Ohio St, two teams with mobile quarterbacks. If Purdue’s weakness through air has been due to a focus on running quarterbacks, it should be a fun day Saturday.
Prediction: Michigan +4 with the possibility for much more.
Rush Defense vs Purdue
Michigan Def: –4, 109th, 11th
Purdue Off: –0, 67th, 7th
Dan Dierking: +0, 8th in Big Ten
Michigan has had three really bad games defending the run against some of the best Big Ten rushing teams. Against more mediocre ground games the porous Michigan run defense has held up OK.
Purdue hasn’t put more than +1 on the ground in any Big Ten game and only did it once against Toledo in non-conference play. Purdue doesn’t look like a team that can do the damage that Illinois, Penn St or Michigan State did.
Prediction: –4 by the numbers but a good chance it’s closer to 0 barring another Siller-tastrophy.
Pass Defense vs Purdue
Michigan Def: –4, 110th, 11th
Purdue Off: –4, 107th, 11th
Sean Robinson: –2 average against Illinois and Wisconsin
No qualifying receivers
That’s a whole lot of ugly all around. Michigan has been in the –6 range for most of Big Ten play. The Penn St showing might start to look better as they put up a better opponent adjusted score against NW than they did against Michigan. Purdue hasn’t been better than –6 versus anyone that’s not Minnesota or Ball St.
Although this matchup looks like what we thought would happen at Penn St, Purdue has a more known quantity behind center and McGloin has proven for at least two games to be a significant upgrade to the Penn St offense which has been +10 opponent adjusted the last two games after being –5 prior.
Prediction: Push, Purdue does more than normal but no major damage.
Special Teams vs Purdue
Michigan: –2, 107th, 10th
Purdue: +0, 82nd, 8th
Michigan Kicks: Push, both teams are bad
Purdue Kicks: Advantage Purdue, we are not good
Michigan Punts: Big advantage Michigan, hopefully don’t need it
Purdue Punts: Advantage Purdue, they’re not good but they’ve been better than us
Kicking: slight advantage Purdue, they’re not good but they’ve been better than us
Purdue hasn’t been great at any special teams but they haven’t been the disaster Michigan has been, either. Hopefully our offense renders most of our special teams weaknesses irrelevant.
Predictions almost certain to cost you money if taken seriously
Michigan 35 Purdue 30 The Vegas number seems a bit high but even though the numbers are calling a 5 point game I think there is substantially more upside than downside with a depleted Purdue offense.
Illinois 31 Minnesota 10 – Illinois gets a nice cupcake to bounce back after last week’s tough loss
Iowa 42 Northwestern 20 – Sorry Jamiemac, still not buying NW this year
Ohio St 31 Penn St 21 – Walk-on Favre keeps it closer than the experts think and if the Penn St offense can keep up their strong performance of the last two weeks then I think Penn St actually has a shot to pull the upset.
Wisconsin 38 Indiana 20 – Another bottom feeder for the Badgers before their trip to AA next week.
You can’t count on more progress from the offense
Michigan is not going to get much better on offense. They can reduce turnovers, they can improve in the Red Zone, they can find a back who can reduce the load on Denard. All of these things can and hopefully will happen. But after two years of making the Rodriguez leap, this team is pretty close to the ceiling offensively. There are no more leaps to be made. Any progress at this point is incremental as this team already sits on good end of the bell curve, 2.5 standard deviations above the average team.
In 2008 Michigan was –5 PAN and ranked 102nd in the country in offense. Last year leap #1 happened Michigan jumped to +3 and 38th in the country offensively. This year the team has made an even bigger leap and is currently at +13 and second only to Auburn among all FBS offenses. Prior to this year, here are the offenses in AQ conferences that have exceeded +13:
Oklahoma 2008, +16
Florida 2007, +17
USC 2005, +16
Texas 2005, +14
Four teams from 2003-2009 did better offensively than Michigan has done this year. The offense will hopefully be a slightly more polished version of what you see right now. Another leap would mean a once in a decade offense, don’t think we can count on that.
So if we are going to progress, all the change is going to have to come from the defense. The goal is obviously to have a shut down defense to go with a can’t be shut down offense, but there is little chance of the defense turning around that quickly next year. For comparison I found three teams that had best in class offenses and average defenses (not good, not bad) and this is what I found.
The Test Cases
Florida 2007, +17 Off, –0 Def
West Virginia 2006, +13 Off, –0 Def
Auburn 2010, +14 Off, +0 Def
Florida 2007 lost three SEC games and eventually to Michigan in the Citrus Bowl. Those four losses were by an average of 6 points. It was good enough to get the Tebow Child his Heisman but going 2-4 in close games was the difference between the season being good and truly great.
With Rodriguez at the helm the 2006 Mountaineers went 11-2. This was the year that the Big East was good. Louisville had yet to be Kragthorped and beat West Virginia and South Florida upset West Virginia as the only team to hold the Mountaineers below 27 points.
Auburn still has 3-4 big games left and we may not know how this one is going to end depending on how Newton-gate ends. But at the current pace, Auburn is providing the best case that an exceptional offense and can keep you in the title hunt into November.
How plausible is a strong defensive improvement
This question obviously depends on who’s coaching the defense, does the system change, if it does is that a good or bad thing, how do the young players progress, how does Angry Michigan <Blank> Hating God fill in the blank and many other questions.
From 2003-2009 69 teams have been –6 or worse on defense. 59 of those improved the next year (law of averages, yo) and 17 or about 25% moved all the way up to the test case range –1 or better. The average team improved about 4 points.
Based on the amount of talent returning next year and the youth on this squad, a jump of 4 points would seem to be the minimum. Michigan road to average is starting at –8 right now. Strong showings in the last four games could improve that number slightly but nine games in the number isn’t changing that much. I would say the 25% chance of getting back to average seems about right. This defense should at least progress to 2009 levels (yeah?) and will have a shot at the average defense that would likely lead to New Year’s Day at the bare minimum.
An offense at this level plus an average defense in the Big Ten will probably mean at least ten wins. If the defense makes an average bad defense improvement, it will probably be more like 9 wins. If the defense can make a strong leap (entirely possible) to positive territory, Michigan could be a couple good breaks away from where Auburn is at right now. Let’s just hope somebody didn’t hear from somebody’s sister that Denard was asking Danny Hope to get paid.
What a first game at Michigan Stadium! A big thanks to Jamie Mac for the invitation to tailgate, it was great to meet up with a few MGoBloggers before the game. For your generosity I won’t gloat about being right about the PSU/NW game.
Michigan Rush: +12
Michigan Pass: +21
Illinois Rush: +13
Illinois Pass: +6
Illinois had a huge field position advantage on the day. Not counting the OT drives, Illinois’ field position would have yielded an average team against an average defense 40 points. Michigan allowed 45. Considering the low bar set by this unit, it was a heck of a job giving the offense a chance to win. The offense was only “expected” to score 28 based on field position. The turnovers and special teams put Michigan at a distinct disadvantage but the defense held enough in regulation to give the offense a chance and then came through with the one stop they needed at the end.
Denard had his worst rushing game of the season going –1 on the ground (with Illinois’s good rush d it will be positive after the opponent adjustment)
Vincent Smith +2
Michael Shaw +6, that’s what happens when a third of your carries are touchdowns
For Illinois, Scheelhaasse, Leshoure and Ford were all +5
A lot of big numbers all around. Michigan’s total offensive game was the second best opponent adjusted offensive performance for the entire season.
Seven is still the most likely outcome but with the win on Saturday the prospects have improved from 6-7 to 7-8.
@ Purdue: 65%
@ Ohio St: 15%
Continuing with last week’s method of ranking by losses first, then season PAN, then any adjustment for head to head games.
Oregon continues to be rated lower by my numbers due mostly to the cat and mouse nature of a lot of their games. I don’t count plays after the spread is larger than 2 TD’s in the second half and Oregon has played several games, like last weekend vs Washington, where the game has stayed closer than it should into the second half and the blows the door off to close out the game.
Other teams that seem out of place are Nevada which is only ranked highly because of my methodology. They are 50th in the country in PAN behind Michigan at #46.
The Mathlete vs The Big House
Saturday will be my first game day at Michigan Stadium and although I went through a period of mourning after last Saturday, I couldn’t be more excited right now. I am bringing my dad along and although he isn’t necessarily a Michigan fan, he acknowledges the greatness of The Victors, the Maize and Blue and shares a hatred of Notre Dame. Any game day advice or recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Hopefully I can contribute some good luck to get the 6th win monkey off our back on Saturday.
On to the preview.
Rush Offense vs Illinois
Michigan Off: +7, 2nd nationally, 1st in Big 10
Illinois Def: +4, 3rd nationally, 2nd Big 10 (Iowa)
Denard Robinson: +8 rushing, 1st nationally all positions
Vincent Smith: -0, 13th in Big 10
Illinois lines up as another top-notch rush defense opponent for Michigan. Before losing Denard against Iowa, Michigan managed to hold up quite well against the only rush defense in the Big Ten better than Illinois (Iowa is now #1 nationally). Illinois’s one below average game was Indiana getting 50 yards on 16 carries before the game got out of hand. Indiana’s average is really bad. Illinois should provide another strong challenge for Michigan who is still looking for someone besides Denard to help carry the load. If someone can step up, Michigan could still get a good advantage here. If they don’t Denard will probably still get his yards but the carries will start to add up.
Pass Offense vs Illinois
Michigan Off: +4, 17th, 2nd
Illinois Def: +2, 42nd, 5th
Denard Robinson: +4 passing, 7th in Big 10
Junior Hemingway: +4, 13th
Roy Roundtree: +4, 14th
Darryl Stonum: +2, 18th
Michigan’s edge here comes almost entirely from its early season success. Illinois has had strong performances against Ohio St and Indiana and mostly average against everyone else. If Denard can find his early season success it could help free up some of the pressure on his carries but at this point in the season it seems as though his performance through the air has regressed.
Rush Defense vs Illinois
Michigan Def: –3, 110th, 11th
Illinois Off: +1, 44th, 4th
Mikel LeShoure: +0, 11th
Nathan Scheelhaase: +2, 15th nationally among QBs
Michigan has gotten gashed two of its last three games but Illinois only has one strong game on the season and that came back in September against MAC foe Northern Illinois.
Maybe Michigan has a chance to not get killed on the ground this weekend but at this point I am preparing for the worst until given a reason not to.
Pass Offense vs Illinois
Michigan Def: –4, 109th, 10th
Illinois Off: –1, 75th, 9th
Nathan Scheelhaase: +2, 9th in Big 10
Jarred Fayson: +2, 19th
Illinois’s pass offense has been all or nothing and Michigan’s pass defense has just been nothing. Last Saturday saw the worst showing of the year and Michigan’s sole above average game was in 2 months ago with a starter out for nearly a half. Illinois doesn’t have a lot of volume through the air, so Michigan has that going for them. The Illini put up big passing numbers against Penn St and Purdue but have mostly struggled in limited attempts against everyone else.
Maybe Michigan has a chance to not get killed through the air this weekend but at this point I am preparing for the worst until given a reason not to.
Michigan: –1, 106th, 10th
Illinois: +3, 19th, 2nd
Michigan Punts: Big advantage Michigan
Illinois Punts: Big advantage Illinois
Michigan KO: Slight advantage Illinois
Illinois KO: Big advantage Illinois
Kickers: Huge advantage Illinois (#6 in country) but at least we made a FG last week
The one advantage we have is the one special team you don’t want to be using. Like Penn St last week, the advantage Michigan has is that Illinois isn’t a huge threat to break big returns. Everyone talks about Michigan’s special teams issues but the only one that really matters for the 2010 Michigan team is the kicker since field position has been largely irrelevant for both our offense and defense.
Predictions that will almost certainly lose you money
Illinois 39 Michigan 35
Hopefully Vegas and the Michigan –3 line know something I don’t, which they likely do. Illinois is one of the top 10 in smallest standard deviation of game scores, they have been very consistent. Michigan can’t count on an Illinois let down but should have a good shot if the A game shows up again.
Iowa 45 Indiana 21 – Indiana is just Indiana
Michigan St 37 Minnesota 17 – Michigan St takes advantage of a nice break to get things right
Penn St 27 Northwestern 10 – Penn St keeps it going
Wisconsin 34 Purdue 21 – May be an optimistic total for Purdue’s offense
TCU 28 Utah 24 – TCU finally gives up a few points but stays undefeated
LSU 21 Alabama 20 – The highly precise numbers were LSU 20.1 Alabama 19.6, should be a very close game and a good chance for some late game Les Miles magic
Can’t wait to be at Michigan Stadium on Saturday!