2003: An Advanced Stats Year in Review

Submitted by The Mathlete on March 27th, 2012 at 11:34 AM

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This is the first in a series of posts going back through the years to pull out some of the highlights from an advanced stats perspective of years prior. Glossary at bottom for further detail on specific metrics. @The_Mathlete

The Basics

Record: 10-3

Big Ten: 7-1, Big Ten Champs

Bowl: Rose Bowl loss to USC

Final AP Rank: 6th

Advanced Team Stats

Talent rank: 13th in nation (Texas), 2nd in Big Ten (Ohio)

Offense: +7 EV+ (10th-Minnesota, 2nd)

Defense: +6 EV+ (17th-LSU, 4th-Iowa)

Special Teams: +1 EV+ (33rd-MSU, 5th)

Advanced Player Stats

John Navarre, 1st Team Big Ten,  +2 EV+ (27th-Roethlisberger, 3rd-Abdul-Khaliq), 0.13 WPA/G (39th-Frye, 4th-Sorgi)

Top Games

Ohio: 278 yards, +8 EV+ and 0.23 WPA

Minnesota: 369 yards, +5 EV+ and 0.37 WPA (legendary receiving TD not included)

Northwestern: 284 yards, +7 EV+ and 0.18 WPA

Chris Perry, all everything, +2 EV+ (9th-Barber, 3rd), 0.09  WPA/G (6th-Barber, 3rd)

Top Games

Central Michigan: 17 carries for 232 yards, +8 EV+ and 0.25 WPA

Michigan St: 52 carries for 220 yards, +8 EV+ and 0.30 WPA

Houston: 18 carries for 184 yards, +7 EV+ and 0.14 WPA

Braylon Edwards, 1st team Big Ten, +4 EV (51st-Fitzgerald, 2nd-Evans), 0.07 WPA/G (97th-Hackett, 8th-Evans)

Top Games

Ohio: 7 targets, 132 yards, +12 EV and 0.21 WPA

Michigan St: 7 targets, 103 yards, +11 EV and 0.23 WPA

Northwestern: 6 targets, 110 yards, +7 EV and 0.10 WPA

WPA Charts



Michigan takes their first loss of the season in a wild one in Eugene. Three special teams touchdowns, Michigan recovering the onside kick with a chance for a dramatic comeback from an 18 point second half deficit that wasn’t to be.



Michigan takes control early with a 14 point first quarter lead, only to see Iowa reverse course to go up 30-20 midway through the fourth. Braylon Edwards goes for a 41 yard touchdown and the Wolverine D forces a three and out. But Michigan’s final drive stalls on Iowa’s half of the field.



Michigan’s third game with big swings finally goes their way. Michigan trailed 28-7 at the end of the third quarter with their only touchdown coming on the famed Breaston to Navarre connection. Four fourth quarter touchdowns would tie the game and Garrett Rivas hit from 33 yards out with less than a minute to go to give Michigan it’s final margin.



Tressel’s only loss to Michigan in ten tries saw Michigan in control until the fourth quarter. A John Navarre interception gave the Buckeyes the ball back down seven with 13 minutes to play, but a three and out, a scare on a fumbled punt return and an 87 yard touchdown drive would push the lead back to 14 and Ohio wouldn’t threaten again.

Season Summary

In terms of contribution to success, the 2003 Michigan team was highly balanced. Chris Perry would be the player that took home the hardware, those of you have followed my articles are familiar with the lack of love EV+ and WPA have for running backs. Perry certainly had an outstanding season but benefited from a lot of carries and the famed position as lead back at Michigan. In all, Perry and the ground game, a solid Navarre and a pretty good defense would give Michigan its last outright Big Ten title and only victory over a Jim Tressell-led Buckeye team.

For being BIG TEN FOOTBALL, the season featured several wild comeback games. Michigan pulled out a win over Minnesota but dropped games to a solid Iowa team and an unranked Oregon team. The Rose Bowl saw Michigan take on the first USC juggernaut that went on to win the AP crown despite missing out on the BSC title game.

Heisman Re-Vote

2003 was a tough vote for the Heisman. Jason White, Larry Fitzgerald, Eli Manning and Chris Perry were the finalists. My four finalists would have been Ben Roethlisberger, Larry Fitzgerald, Philip Rivers and Matt Leinart (sorry Chris).

Ben Roethlisberger +11 EV+ and Larry Fitzgerald +9 have the best claims to the most valuable season. Fitzgerald’s EV+ was the best wideout rating in the 9 years of data I have accumulated.

If you don’t like mid-majors or wideouts, Philip Rivers was the best BCS QB or RB at +8 for NC State. If you think the winner needs to be a “winner” and have a team in title contention, then Leinart’s your man. At +7 he is well ahead of the other title contenders, eventual winner Jason White from OU (+4) and Matt Mauck from LSU (+0).

My vote: Larry Fitzgerald, a once in a decade receiving season and no dominant BCS QBs makes this my clear choice

My Post-Season Top 25

Rank Team EV+ AP Rank
1 USC 19 1
2 LSU 16 2
3 Miami (OH) 14 10
4 Oklahoma 14 3
5 Michigan 14 6
6 Kansas St 14 14
7 Georgia 13 7
8 Texas 12 12
9 Oregon St 10 NR
10 Miami (FL) 10 5
11 Minnesota 9 20
12 Washington St 9 9
13 Maryland 9 17
14 Tennessee 9 15
15 Florida St 9 11
16 Utah 9 21
17 Arkansas 8 NR
18 Auburn 8 NR
19 Iowa 7 8
20 Nebraska 7 19
21 Ohio St 7 4
22 NC St 6 NR
23 Clemson 6 22
24 New Mexico 6 NR
25 Texas Tech 6 NR
26 Boise St 6 16
27 Bowling Green 6 23
31 Purdue 5 18
36 TCU 3 25
37 Mississippi 3 13
38 Florida 3 24

The top five compared pretty closely between the two. The notable exceptions were the two teams from Ohio. Roethlisberger’s Red Hawks check at #3 in my final rankings where that other team from Ohio was highly overrated based on a number of close wins. Michigan gets a slight bump up to #5.


EV+: Opponent adjusted expected value. How many points a player/team/unit was worth relative to average performance against the same opponent. Excludes all garbage time plays and fumbles (considered random).

WPA: Win Percent Added. How much each player/unit contributed to winning games. Each team starts a game with a 50% chance. For the first three quarters in a competitive game this will track directly alongside EV. In games with larger margins almost all plays have zero value. Plays in the fourth quarter/OT of tight games will have a higher leverage based on the situation. This is largely were WPA deviates from EV+. WPA for offensive players will be higher if the teams defense is bad and vice versa. If your defense is giving you good field position and stopping the opponent, there is less opportunity for the offense to “win” the game. If your defense is terrible your WPA numbers will be higher because there is constant pressure for the offense to succeed. Includes all plays.

Ranks: The ()’d numbers after ratings are the national rank first followed by the conference rank. If there is a team/name after the rank, that is the leader of the category.

Talent Rank: Total team talent estimate based on recruiting rankings of all players on that year’s roster based on all available major scouting services. Only counts plays currently on the roster and weights players with more years on the team higher than new recruits.



March 27th, 2012 at 2:32 PM ^

According to the ESPN NFL Draft Tracker:

2004 Draft   OSU   14 players drafted; 3 in first round

                    UM       4 players drafted; 1 in first round

2005 Draft    OSU    3 players drafted  0 in first round

                     UM      3 players drafted; 2 in first round

2006 Draft   OSU     9 players drafted; 5 in first round

                     UM      3 players drafted; 0 in first round

2007 Draft   OSU     8 players drafted; 2 in first round

                     UM      7 players drafted; 1 in first round

Total 04-07 drafts    OSU  34 players drafted; 10 in first round

                                UM    17 players drafted;  4 in first round

I can accept that there might be measures of talent other than being drafted by the NFL, but the professionals seemed to have the opinion that the 2003 OSU team, from its seniors down to its freshmen, had more draft-worthy talent than the 2003 UM team.



March 27th, 2012 at 9:29 AM ^

It's sort of an MGoZeitgeist. There were a couple of times last year when reviewing these charts that I felt they were either more or less optimistic than I was at the time, but for the most part they matched up well.

It's cool to me that we, as fans, have sort of an internal WPA calculator going on at all times during games.


March 27th, 2012 at 5:56 PM ^

I took a Math class at UofM a couple of years back (Math 462) on the topic of mathmatical modeling. For my final project of the semester I took a stab at making my own ranking system along the same vein, and looked back at some historical seasons to see how my model would have set the national championship game compared to how it actually played out.

Seeing this post reminded of my old project, so I pulled it up and looked at what my model gave for the 2003 season, it's interesting in the fact that it is in no way close to your rankings at all.

3.Louisiana State
5.Kansas State
6.Florida State
7.Southern California
9.Ohio State
11.Miami (Fla.)
The model I used is a weighted "network based" model with it's roots outlined in the paper here http://vw.indiana.edu/netsci06/conference/Park_Network-based.pdf. However I added some additional weighting parameters such as margin of victory and home field advantage, and tweaked them around until I got tired of playing with it.
Basically, I wanted to post to let you know that if you want to get an A in a Math class that counts for a Masters of Engineering degree, you may want to enroll/submit the work you've done.

Zone Left

March 27th, 2012 at 10:02 PM ^

No mention of John Navarre is complete without THIS LINK


"Much maligned Michigan quarterback John Navarre took another hit yesterday when Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) attacked him for CIA and FBI negligence in the weeks and months leading up to the September 11th terrorist attacks."