Advanced Stats Matchup Analysis – 2017 Michigan vs. Rutgers

Submitted by Ecky Pting on October 27th, 2017 at 7:30 PM

Advanced Stats Matchup Analysis – 2017 Michigan vs. Rutgers

Introduction

Woohoo, here we go! It’s the Advanced Stats (S&P+) Matchup for Michigan’s re-emergent rivalry with Rutgers!

As usual, this matchup analysis draws upon the Advanced Stats Profiles published weekly by Bill Connelly on Football Study Hall. The profiles feature Connelly’s well-known Five Factors, and also include the more detailed groups of S&P+ metrics that break down elements of the game such as Rushing and Passing, as well as the down-and-distance scenarios known as Standard Downs and Passing Downs. This new interpretation is an updated take on what you may recall from last season. It assesses the complete set of 26 advanced stats metrics using an approach that displays the matchups graphically, in a way that more clearly distinguishes and gauges the significance of any net advantages. For more details regarding the definition of and concepts behind each of the metrics, the Advanced Stats Glossary is a handy reference to bookmark.

Methodology

If you’re interested in the approach to analyzing Bill Connelly’s base metrics, the formulation for deriving the matchup metrics and the data visualization concept for the charts, you can read more in the previous Michigan at Indiana diary. Nonetheless, nothing here is etched in stone, and certainly suggestions for improving any of the aspects of the methodology are welcome and appreciated!

Michigan at Rutgers Matchup Analysis

So, on with the matchup analysis!

The Five Factors Matchups

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Here are the matchups for the core Five Factors metrics that compose the actual S&P+ ratings from which the game scoring margin is derived. As of the beginning of this week, that margin stands at 13.4 points in favor of Michigan. Keep in mind a couple of things: the weightings of the factors into the projected scoring margin are not uniform and, a team has control of only the first four. Of those first four, UM has an advantage in three (two of which are narrow). Rutgers holds a narrow edge in the fourth.

Efficiency

In Efficiency, the UM Offense is well below average, while the Rutgers Defense is about average, which pushes the UM Offense down a bit more. On the other side, the Rutgers Offense is below average, while the UM Defense remains elite, but has slid down to #2 in this category. The net matchup gives a considerable advantage to Michigan in Efficiency.

Explosiveness

In Explosiveness, the UM Offense is about average, but the Rutgers Defense is above average, which pulls the UM Offense down to below average. On the other side, the Rutgers Offense is nearly rock bottom, but the UM Defense is also well below average, which boosts the Rutgers Offense a bit. The net matchup gives slight advantage for Michigan in Explosiveness.

Field Position

As for Field Position, the UM Offense is about average, while the Rutgers Defense is above average. The matchup, which is the average of the two (not the geometric scaling as with the first two), pulls the UM Offense down to below average. On the other side, the Rutgers Offense is well above average, while the UM Defense is only average, which boosts up the Rutgers Offense. The net matchup, however, is a slight Field Position edge for Rutgers.

Finishing Drives

In Finishing Drives, the UM Offense is below average, but the Rutgers Defense about the same. This matchup, also a simple average, gives a slight boost to the UM Offense. On the other side, the Rutgers Offense is about average, while the UM Defense is about average. The net matchup is a slight advantage for Michigan in Finishing Drives.

Turnover Margin

Both teams have a history so far this season of having poor Turnover Luck. What this means is that both Rutgers and Michigan’s actual turnover margin has significantly lagged expected turnover margin based on measurables (e.g. Fumbles and Passes Defended), with Rutgers’ luck being just a shade better than Michigan’s sorry luck. Setting luck aside however and just comparing the statistically-based expected turnover margins, Michigan is actually well above average (ranke #9), however Rutgers, not unlike Penn State, is elite (ranked #3!). The net difference amounts to about 1.7 PPG. Thus, the net matchup is a sizeable edge for Rutgers in Turnover Margin.

Rushing Matchups

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In going up against Rutgers at least, UM manages to almost achieve a clean sweep. Indeed, Michigan captures a net advantage in five of the six Rushing matchups, in addition to the overall metric matchup. Here again is born Michigan’s best path to victory. So with that, on to the Rushing matchups.

Rushing S&P+

The aggregate Rushing S&P+ metric is an uninverted metric, meaning that higher values correspond to both higher-ranked offenses and defenses. Somehow, some way, the Michigan Offense is well above average; but, the RU Defense is also above average, which pulls UM down a bit. On the other side, the RU Offense is above average, but the UM Defense is top ten, which knocks Rutgers down to well below average. The net result is a considerable advantage for Michigan in Rushing S&P+.

Rushing Success Rate

In Rushing Success, the UM Offense is well below average, while Rutgers Defense is closer to average, which pushes UM downward. On the other side, the Rutgers Offense is close to average, but the UM Defense is top ten (#8, down from #3). The net matchup in the end is still a sizeable advantage in Rushing Success for Michigan.

Explosiveness

In Explosiveness, the UM Offense is above average, however the Rutgers Defense is actually well above average, which pulls the UM Offense down a good chunk. On the other side, the Rutgers Offense is below average, but the UM Defense is well below average. In the end, Rushing IsoPPP (Explosiveness) favors Rutgers by a sizeable margin.

Adjusted Line Yards

In Adjusted Line Yards, the UM Offense is well above average, and the RU Defense is a shade above average, which shaves a bit off the UM Offense. Meanwhile, the RU Offense is about average and the UM Defense is also well above average, which knocks the RU Offense down significantly. The net matchup result is considerable advantage for Michigan in Adjusted Line Yards.

Opportunity Rate

In Opportunity Rate, the UM Offense is below average, while the Rutgers Defense is about average, leaving the UM Offense about the same. On the other side, the RU Offense is below average and the UM Defense is well above average, which takes the RU Offense down even further. The net is a sizeable advantage for Michigan in Opportunity Rate.

Power Success Rate

In Power Success Rate, the UM Offense is above average, yet the RU defense is also above average, which takes the UM Offense down to about average. On the other side, the RU Offense is approaching rock bottom, while the UM Defense is the elitist - ranked #1 in this metric – which sends the RU Offense down even further. In the end, the matchup balance is a tremendous advantage for Michigan in Power Success Rate.

Stuff Rate

Last is Stuff Rate (a contra-metric). In this case, both offenses are close to average. The difference is in the defenses: the RU Defense is below average, while UM Defense is top ten. Think “space hogs” like Moe Hurst, with some Brian Mone sprinkled in. So, in the end, the matchup result is a considerable advantage for Michigan in Stuff Rate.

Passing Matchups

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The Passing matchups are technically a mixed bag, but the net is well in Michigan’s favor.

Passing S&P+

The aggregate Passing S&P+ metric is an uninverted metric, meaning that higher values correspond to both higher-ranked offenses and defenses. Here, the UM Offense is below average, while the RU Defense is top ten, which pushes the UM Offense to well below average. On the other side, the RU Offense is well above average, but the UM Defense is the elitest (ranked #1 in this metric), which pushes the RU Offense to well below average. In the end, the net matchup result is a significant advantage for Michigan in overall Passing S&P+.

Passing Success Rate

In Passing Success Rate, the UM Offense is well below average, OK? Also, the RU Defense is above average, OK? OK, so that takes the UM Offense down a notch further. No worries. Not a big deal. The reason is because, the RU Offense is even more below average, and the UM Defense is elite (ranked #2, down from #1, in this metric). The scuttlebutt is that the RU Offense is obliterated into nothingness. The net is a considerable advantage for Michigan in Passing Success Rate.

Passing Explosiveness

In Passing IsoPPP (Explosiveness), the perfectly average UM Offense is unperturbed by the comparably average RU Defense. On the other side, the rock-bottom RU Offense is boosted by the well below average UM Defense, but to no avail. The net matchup result is still a sizeable advantage for Rutgers in Passing IsoPPP.

Adjusted Sack Rate

Adjusted Sack Rate is an uninverted metric, meaning that higher values correspond to both higher-ranked offenses and defenses. However, it is not a contra-metric as is typical with the other Sack Rate metrics. You can blame Bill Connelly…

Here is where Rutgers strengths are manifest. The UM Offense is bottom ten, and fortunately, the RU Defense is even worse, which makes the UM Offense look above average. Yet, on the other side, the Rutgers Offense is top ten, and even though the UM Defense is well above average, it still leaves Rutgers at a very high level. In the end, the net matchup result looks like a significant advantage for Rutgers in Adjusted Sack Rate.

Standard Down Matchups

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Michigan captures 3 of the 4 Standard Down matchups as well as the overall matchup with Rutgers, with RU’s only advantage coming in SD Sack Rate, and a tie in Explosiveness. It’s been noted before but is worth repeating that UM’s defensive scheme under Harbaugh, and under Don Brown in particular, is typically weak in the Explosiveness metric - these results are no different - and it’s not a bad thing. What’s important is that it is usually offset by a strong Success Rate metric, which is born out in these results as well.

Standard Down S&P+

The aggregate Standard Down S&P+ metric is an uninverted metric, meaning that higher values correspond to both higher-ranked offenses and defenses. Here, the UM Offense has improved and is now above average, while the RU Defense is about average, which leaves the UM Offense unchanged. On the other side, the RU Offense is also below average, while UM Defense is significantly above average, which pulls the RU Offense toward rock bottom. The net matchup result is a considerable advantage for Michigan in overall Standard Down S&P+.

SD Success Rate

In SD Success Rate, the UM Offense is well below average, but the RU Defense is below average, which gives the UM Offense a slight tweak. On the other side, the RU Offense is below average, but the UM Defense is elite (ranked #3, down from #2), making the RU Offense also look well below average. The net matchup result ends up being a sizeable advantage for Michigan in SD Success Rate.

SD Explosiveness (IsoPPP)

In SD Explosiveness, the UM Offense remains well below average, while the RU Defense is slightly above average, which pulls the UM Offense lower still. On the other side, the RU Offense is rock-bottom-the-worst, while the UM Defense is only a few shades better, giving the RU Offense a tweak upward. The net matchup result is a push in SD Explosiveness.

SD Line Yards per Carry

In SD LYPC, the UM Offense is slightly below average, and the RU Defense is well below average, which improves the UM Offense. On the other side, the RU Offense is about average, while the UM Defense is elite (ranked #4, down from #3), pulling the RU Offense down significantly. The net matchup result is a significant advantage for Michigan in SD Line Yards per Carry.

SD Sack Rate

In SD Sack Rate (a contra-metric), the UM Offense is well below average, but the RU Defense is even wose, which improves the UM Offense effective Sack Rate. On the other side, the RU Offense is actually top ten, but the UM Defense is as well (ranked #7, down from #3), to the detriment of the RU Offense. In the end, the net matchup result is still a sizeable advantage for Rutgers in SD Sack Rate.

Passing Down Matchups

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Last, but certainly not least, are the Passing Down matchups, in which Michigan captures 3 of the 4 matchups as well as the overall matchup, with the net result being a significant advantage for Michigan. However, what remains to be cause for concern in these matchups is pass protection, something that RU excels at on Defense and simply avoids by not passing at all on Offense.

Passing Down S&P+

The aggregate Passing Down S&P+ metric is an un-inverted metric, meaning that higher values correspond to both higher-ranked offenses and defenses. Here the UM Offense has dropped to the point of being perfectly average, while the RU Defense is above average, which drops the UM Offense to below average. On the other side, where the RU Offense is well below average while the UM Defense is elite (moving up to #2 in this overall metric), which sends the RU Offense plummeting. The net matchup result is a significant advantage for Michigan in Passing Down S&P+.

PD Success Rate

In PD Success Rate, the UM Offense has dropped to well below average, while the RU Defense is above average, which pushes the UM Offense down even further. On the other side, the RU Offense is also well below average, while the UM Defense is elite (up to #2 from #3), which sends the RU Offense plummeting. The net matchup result is a considerable advantage for Michigan in PD Success Rate.

PD Explosiveness

In PD Explosiveness (IsoPPP), the UM Offense is about average, while the RU Defense is slightly below average, which leaves the UM Offense about the same. On the other side, the RU Offense is near rock bottom, but the UM Defense is below average, which tweaks the RU Offense upward. The net matchup result is still a sizeable advantage for Michigan in PD Explosiveness.

PD Line Yards per Carry

In PD Line Yards per Carry (LYPC), the UM Offense is slightly above average, while the RU Defense is about average, which leaves the UM Offense unperturbed. On the other side, the RU Offense is near rock bottom, and the UM Defense is well above average, which sends the RU Offense plummeting. The net matchup result is a significant advantage for Michigan in PD LYPC.

PD Sack Rate

In PD Sack Rate (a contra-metric), as everyone should know by now, the UM Offense is well below average, but the RU Defense is slightly worse, which helps the UM Offense considerably. On the other side, however, the RU Offense is nearly top ten, while the UM Defense is above average, which degrades RU a bit. However, the net matchup result is still a significant advantage for Rutgers in PD Sack Rate.

Conclusion

After the throttling that took place last week at the hands of the Nittany Lions, it’s good to finally see some matchups that are, if not entirely maize-n-blue-colored, at least predominantly so. Overall, UM has the advantage in all the categories of metrics, and the majority of the sub-metrics. Some of this shift is attributable to some noticeable improvements in offensive metrics, but most of the shift is attributable to a change in the level of competition. Happy Homecoming, yo!

Michigan’s Defense can reasonably expect to shut down the RU Offense, and absent any field-flipping catastrophes, should reasonably expect to shut them out. On the other side, Michigan will still need to be wary of its pass protection going up against this Rutgers DL that is anchored by standout Sebastian Joseph at the Nose. Even passing on standard downs could prove hazardous against the RU front, so Michigan’s running backs had better be ready to set their blocks when it comes time to run play action. That said, it would be reasonable to expect Michigan to stick to running the ball as much as possible - which should prove effective – and take control of this game by possessing the ball and running down the clock. Passes may come, but they will be few and far between, and would be more likely to come on first down, or 2nd and short, and be in the form of shots down the field as opposed to chain-moving high-percentage passes, only because high-percentage passes are a bit of a misnomer for this Michigan offense.

So, that concludes this week’s Five Factors Matchup Analysis!

Yours in football, and Go Blue!

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