Good analysis, but your quote says we are 2-7 as underdogs, yet your article says we've only won a single game as an underdog? I'm gonna go out on a limb and suggest that both of our underdog wins were against ND?
Wins and losses in the Hoke era
This diary was inspired by the following tweet:
Under Hoke, U-M is 23-2 in games in which it is the favorite. U-M is 2-7 in games in which it is the underdog. (cc: @justcoverblog)
— Drew Hallett (@DrewCHallett) November 6, 2013
I decided to look a bit more closely at the data because this seemed so striking to me. [EDIT: Hallett is incorrect: I have UM 24-2 when favored, 1-7 when not. This makes it even more striking!].
First, I compiled a spreadsheet of all results in the Hoke era, which looked like this:
|Year||Date||Opponent||Location||Result||UM score||Opponent score||Line||Cover?|
(The lines were taken from MGoBlog game previews.)
Results are fairly interesting. First, the losses:
- All losses (9) were away or on neutral fields. (We know this because Hoke is undefeated at home, but still worth restating, I think).
- All losses, with two exceptions, were in games where Michigan was the underdog. Those exceptions were, of course, at Penn State (2013) and at Iowa (2011).
- When Michigan loses, it doesn't cover the point spread, with one exception: the Outback Bowl vs. South Carolina. Of course this is partly a function of the fact that when Michigan is an underdog, it is only a slight underdog (average +5.125, compared to an average of -14.6 when we are favored).
Second, the wins:
- We are undefeated at Michigan Stadium in the Hoke era.
- We have five away wins (out of 25 wins total). In three of those games, we were favored by more than a touchdown (@UConn 2013, @Minny 2012, @NW 2011). In two, we were favored by a FG or less and we blew the other team out (@Purdue 2012, @Illinois 2011). (Note: we were only favored by 1 @ Illinois in 2011. I double-checked this and it's accurate).
- Hence, I think it's fair to say that we have not got a signature win in an opponent's stadium in the Hoke era.
- We have only one win in which we were the underdog: ND in 2011, a game that Brian descibed as "delirious because of the many improbable events stacked on each other" before adding that "Michigan has to fix some stuff—lots of stuff—by the Big Ten season."
- We have five wins in which we were favored by less than a touchdown: @Illinois 2011, @Purdue 2012, the 2012 Sugar Bowl, Nebraska 2011, and ND 2013. In all of those games we covered or pushed (the Sugar Bowl).
Third, the expectations. I looked at games where there was a big difference between the expectation (i.e., the gambling line) and the final score.
The biggest letdowns, where there was a two touchdown difference between the line and the final score, were:
- 2013 Akron at home. We were favored by 38 and won by 4, for a sads score of -34.
- 2013 MSU away. We were 6 point underdogs and lost by 23, for a sads score of -17.
- 2013 UConn away. We were 18 point favorites and won by 3, for a sads score of -15.
- Other letdowns (between -7 and -14) were: Alabama , Air Force , @Iowa , @Nebraska , @MSU , MSU ).
- The biggest happy victories, where the final score was two touchdowns or more than the gambling line, are Minnesota , @Purdue , Nebraska , Illinois , Central Michigan , and Illinois .
The big take-away for me is that this confirms the general impression that Michigan under Hoke wins the games that it should, generally speaking. That's good. On the other hand, we have only one win in which we were the underdog, and two losses in which we were favored, and we don't have a signature away win. I think that sample sizes are small and Hoke is still recovering from the RR era, etc., so this doesn't concern me much.
More concerning is the fact that the three worst letdowns (final score vs. point spread) all occurred this year. Two were wins against teams that Michigan should have destroyed, one was the Michigan State game. This is a reasonable explanation, I think, of the present malaise of Michigan fans.
Here are the games where we are underdogs. We're 1-7, not 2-7, and 24-2 when we're favored to win.
|Year||Date||Opponent||Location||Result||UM score||Opponent score||Line|
Maybe he's using different lines?
EDIT: I double-checked and we were favored by 4 against ND this year.
Depressing. We have not won as a dog since game 2 of the Brady Hoke era, and that one took an outrageous confluence of lucky events. Here's another depressing question: when was the last time we covered against OSU? 2003 we surely covered, but there's not many candidates since then. Maybe 2006? 2009?
When you look at the list of games in which we've been an underdog, it's not that shocking. Those were all pretty much road games against elite teams. Yeah, it'd be nice to win one of those, but they're tough games for anyone to win.
So that is why it is generally unexciting to watch Michigan football over the past few years. We basically do what we are supposed to do. We have underachieved a few times and rarely overachieved resulting in a big win. Status quo pretty much.
In some ways you could say that it is good to basically do what we are supposed to do except that as the season goes on the lines and expectations for each game adjust accordingly (ex. Michigan could have been the favorite last weekend heading to EL except they looked like crap in dissapointing wins and the PSU game).
So... Vegas is more realistic about our team than we are?
The House always wins! Fear Vegas, baby, because Vegas rules us all.
Not Fear Vegas, but Fire Vegas!
Replace it with a sports book that always picks Michigan to win, and we will always win!
the stats on other coaches. Can any of them consistently exceed expectations? If so, I may start gambling...
That is pretty striking, but it's tough to know what to make of this without knowing how other teams compare. Obviously, most teams will skew in similar directions; I just wonder how much.
I like to think I'm a realist but probably more of a pessimist by nature. However, with Hoke winning virtually all of the games he's supposed to (even in a very weak B1G) while building up the supply of recruits I'm choosing to be optimistic. If this doesn't improve next year I will be concerned about Hoke's ability to make the program nationally relevant.
With recruiting going the way it is, we should be favored in more and more games, which should lead to more wins. On the other hand, Michigan under Hoke will need to win big games, especially away from Michigan stadium, to put together a great season.
Possible. But another take on it is that as we Ron Zook our talent (fail to demonstrate that we can do anything more with talent besides recruit it), then we should be favored in fewer and fewer games.
Cuts both ways.
But I think this line of logic is a little bit tail-wagging-doggish.
What I get from it is that we don't take chances. We play basically straight up and hence there isn't a lot of variability from expected outcome, for better or for worse. That philosophy serves us as long as our talent is superior (and that talent is trained appropriately of course). So there is a logic to having a strategy of superior recruiting suppported by the tactics of conervative game management.
Provided the talent is developed.
I thought that even as I was writing it. My logic was somewhat convoluted.
We'll have to see how it goes, I guess. I'll try to keep recording data points as they come in and write an update at the end of the season.
I think last year skews this a little bit. Consider these 5 away games (fight amongst yourselves for road vs neutral). We were in every game except Alabama.
Alabama 12-1 NC
ND 12-1 NC runner up
I am most concerned with the fact that three of our worst letdown happened this year AFTER the line has been adjusted! No way we wouldbe favoured by only 18 points against winless uconn if not for the Akron debacle. Similarly, the line of -2.5 is too low against a PSU team that just lost to Indiana. It is one thing to have a letdown. It is another thing to keep having letdowns after the line has been adjusted significantly.
Great article on Hoke and why he can move us in a better direction....
A lot has to do with turnovers. Akron was -2 TOM, UConn was -3 TOM
2012: ND was -4 TOM, ohio was -2 TOM (both of those games were lost primarily due to TOs).
2011: Iowa was -2 TOM (another loss due to TOs). ND was +2 TOM (yeah, a win due to TOs).