||Avg 3rd Dist
||Adj 3rd Conv
*All TD’s counted as 7 points, regardless of PAT outcome
Michigan finally got what it wanted on offense. They found the big plays, stayed out of bad third downs, converted the ones they had. Unfortunately that was paired with the defense flipping the script. After being a bend but don’t break unit, they mostly broke against the Buckeyes. The 71% early conversion was the second highest number of the Big Ten season behind only the 74% Ohio State achieved against Purdue.
2. Individual Game Scores
QBs: Opp. Adjusted EV, Win percent added (National Rank)
Devin Gardner: +23.9, +91% (2)
Braxton Miller: +18.9, +63% (3)
Derrick Green: –0.8, –3% (91)
Carlos Hyde: +7.4, +26% (3)
Jeremy Gallon: +12.9, +32% (6)
Jake Butt: +8.0, +29% (39)
Drew Dileo: +7.4, +26% (44)
Devin Smith: +5.5, +13% (88)
Although it was painful to watch Carlos Hyde abuse the interior of the Michigan defense again, it should be noted he is having an extremely underrated season. Hyde is currently +5.4 on the season, the best season average since 2003. Reggie Bush is the only other player to crack +5 in a season and only JJ Arrington and Melvin Gordon have been +4. It is very difficult for a running back to create significant value, especially over a large number of carries, but Carlos Hyde has done it at a level not seen in the last decade.
Jeremy Gallon finished the year first among all Big Five receivers nationally at +8.5. His omission from the First team All Big Ten was appalling. Devin Funchess finished the year fourth among all players listed as tight ends and 83rd for all players with a +4.6 receiving.
Devin Gardner’s season has certainly been up and down, but he currently holds two of the top six opponent adjusted games on the season (Ohio St and Indiana) and 3 of the top 50 (including Notre Dame). If Michigan can shore up its offensive line and Gardner can protect the ball, he should be in line for a big step forward, even though this season nearly cracked the top 10 for quarterbacks.
There are three key ways I evaluate quarterbacks, EV+ which is an opponent adjusted look at how many points per game a QB is worth versus the average offensive play, WPA which is a measure of when those plays occurred and their contribution to the game result and point versus team replacement which is a measure of taking one player’s plays and replacing them with the average play that didn’t go through them. Devin Gardner was one of only two players to rank in the top 15 in all three metrics, Johnny Manziel being the second.
Devin’s EV+ for the season was +7.0, 12th in the country (Petty +12.3, Winston +10.9 and Manziel +10.4). His total win percent added was +440%, 3rd in the country (Carr +510%, Manziel +450%). His points versus team replacement was 103 points which was also third (Gilbert SMU +168, Schroeder Hawaii +127). Devin Gardner has his rough moments but there aren’t more than a handful of players this season I would trade his output for, let alone his perseverance.
3. Game Chart
6. +13% Gardner to Gallon for 84 yards
5. –13% Miller to Smith for a 53 yard touchdown on 3rd and 10
4. +15% Gardner hits Jake Butt for to tie the game at 35
3. –15% Braxton Miller runs for 33 yards on the opening play of OSU’s final drive
2. +21% Gardner to Toussaint for 29 yards to set up the final touchdown
1. –35% Michigan’s two point attempt fails
4. Ron Zook Dumb Punt of the Week
Last weekend, Hawaii punted from the Army 31 and it may have been the right call. Facing a 4th and 3 with about 30 seconds left, Hawaii held onto a 7 point lead in what would end up being their first win of the season. A first down would have ended the game, but after starting 0-11, Norm Chow’s Rainbow Warriors punted away, giving Army a 95 yard field and 24 seconds to try and tie the game. Most of the time this would get a dumb punt of the week, but we’ll give Hawaii a pass after this season.
Vanderbilt trailed Wake Forest by 3 early in the second half when the Commodores faced a 4th and 3 from the Wake 38 and opted for the punt over the try. Vanderbilt went on to win and Jim Grobe stepped down after the game. It’s hard to give the dumb punt to a winning team except in the most egregious cases.
Looking west, Colorado has hit on hard times of late, but 4 wins this year is actually a step forward. This weekend they trailed Utah by 14 and faced 4th and 2 at midfield. With seven minutes to go, down 2 scores, a makeable distance, going is not that hard of a call, right? Colorado decided that they didn’t want to risk it and punted away. Three minutes later they got the ball back, still down 2 scores, at the same spot. They got best case scenario and cost themselves 3 out of 7 minutes left.
Colorado gets your Ron Zook Dumb Punt of the Week
5. The Shutout Streak
I raided Brian’s mailbag for a question:
Drew Hallett's blogpost about the non-shutout-streak mentions that Michigan is the most recent team to shutout Illinois, Indiana, MSU, Minnesota, OSU, and PSU, which is a neat stat.
I was wondering if there was any easy way to find which D1 team is the holder of "most recent shutout of the most other teams"? Seems like an interesting trivia answer to compute. Any idea?
Michigan’s six last shutout number is second in all of football. The fact that none of the six were against cupcakes makes it even more so. When the divisions switch next year, Michigan will have the last shutout against all four division foes from the 2013 Big Ten.
After crawling through the sports-reference.com archives, I found that the six team total is the second highest. Alabama currently holds the record with nine, tied at six against conference foes and adding three cupcakes to the total. Eight of the nine have come while Nick Saban was the coach.
For those looking in the rear view mirror in case Michigan gets shut out, the longest other active streaks in terms of dates (I didn’t bother to go to games) are:
Florida vs Auburn, 10/29/88
TCU vs Texas, 11/16/91
Air Force vs Ole Miss, 12/31/92
Ohio St vs Michigan, 11/20/93
Michigan has a full four year head start on Florida, but if both of the two teams survived this year’s offensive woes, it seems like the streak could last for a while. A few other observations:
- Ohio St, Michigan St, BYU, Texas, Mississippi St, Army, Oklahoma St and Auburn were all goose egged by rivals
- Four teams have their last shutout in a bowl games, besides LSU in the championship game all three others were on NYE games. Watch out if Michigan ends up playing on 12/31, it’s apparently the bowl day when offense’s take the whole night off.
- Behind Alabama and Michigan, Oklahoma has five last shutouts, followed by TCU, Ohio St, Nebraska and Florida St with 4.
- The median shutout is Tulsa’s 45-0 loss to Oklahoma on September 19, 2009
If you are curious how recent shutouts have occurred, here is a histogram of the season of the last shutout for every team in the FBS:
1997 and 2000 were apparently really good year’s to get shut out.
6. Prediction – Big Ten Title Game Edition
As much as I don’t want to watch this game for Michigan related reasons it fascinates me for other reasons. Elite shut down defenses aren’t built with three star defenses. It’s been done on offense, but rarely on defense. Michigan State has crafted their defense into an elite offense strangulation machine. They have not played a dynamic offense like Ohio St yet this year.
While the Michigan St defense’s attempt to shutdown Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde will be the matchup everyone will be watching, I think the game will be won on the other matchup. Ohio St’s defense is an OK unit, but the Michigan St offense still isn’t great. They are in the bottom three in the three key offensive metrics and while the Buckeyes don’t have Michigan State’s defense, they should have enough to keep things in check. I think the Spartans would need to go at least +2 in turnovers/special teams swing plays to pull this one out.
Ohio State 28 Michigan State 20