B10 Predictions via 2009 Stats & Returning Starters

Submitted by PhillipFulmersPants on May 28th, 2010 at 11:39 AM

I do some amateurish statistical compiling from time to time for a couple of pools I'm in during the CFB season. In the last couple of days, I took a look at returning starters by unit in the B10 against the relative production of those units last year. Thought I'd throw it out there since I had it anyway.

A couple of notes.

  • All of the data come from the NCAA's website
  • I've listed the teams in order of retuning starters—used Adam Rittenberg's count from his post Spring Practice overviews of the B10 on espn.com.  
  • I've only looked at Total Offense and Scoring Offense, and Total Defense and Scoring Defense. There are tons of other categories obvs, but these to my mind give a pretty good sense of things.
  • Also, for the offense, I've noted which teams have returning starting QBs because of the difference that makes in competency of the offense typically. E.g., both Michigan and PSU have 7 returning starters on offense but I would expect Michigan's unit to be much more efficient and productive given the respective options at QB.

On with it, then …

Scoring Offense and Total Offense

 

 

Returning Starters

Returning QB Starter

Yrds/Game

Big 10 Total O Rank 2009

NCAA Total O Rank 2009

Pts/Game

Big Ten Scoring Rank 2009

NCAA Scoring Rank 2009

Wisconsin

10

Y

416.92

1

30

31.77

1

25

OSU

10

Y

369

8

68

29

4

49

Minnesota

9

Y

306.46

11

109

20.92

11

100

Northwestern

8

N

404.08

4

40

25.92

7

71

Indiana

8

Y

365

9

72

23.5

9

84

Michigan

7

Y

384.5

7

59

29.5

3

41

PSU

7

N

406.92

2

37

28.85

5

52

Iowa

6

Y

336.31

10

89

23.15

10

86

MSU

6

Y

406.23

3

38

29.69

2

36

Purdue

6

?(Marve)

391.33

6

53

27.83

6

58

Illinois

5

N

393.5

5

47

24.17

8

81

Takeaways (in the corporatey bullshit bingo meaning of the word)
  • Is it on Wisconsin or Wisconsin's on?Teams are going to have to put up considerable points to beat the Badgers. Slightly odd to think about them as a prolific offense, but with 10 starters coming back and Tolzien back under center, they are likely to put up better numbers than last year. And last year, they were good. They moved it and they scored it.  What's is scary about this unit isn't shown here—they were ranked 3rd in Red Zone efficiency nationally last year (scoring 96% of their opportunities) and 2nd nationally in what I'll call Red Zone TD efficiency, scoring 42 TDs in 56 opportunities for a 75% clip.  That is pretty sick efficiency.
  •  Sweater lets go of the reigns?OSU has a lot coming back from a team that was just so-so in total offense and scoring, though that's typical of a Tressel low risk offense, IMO, not necessarily a reflection of talent.  I'm expecting that TP in Year Three will have this offense clicking. Under a different coach, this could be a Top 10 - 20 unit or better, I think. They have the pieces. But under the suffocating cotton of the Sweater, they might not get there.  Nor need to get there.
  •  Good News, Bad News for Minny. The good? They have a lot coming back. The bad? They weren't very good last year. Substantial improvement would only see them as a middle of the road NCAA offense.
  •  Thin Green Line. MSU has only 6 returners but they were a Top 35-ish unit with a first-year starting QB in 2009.  I'm expecting them to be comparable and likely better if their revamped line holds up. The skill players are in place. My guess is that they'll move and score even if the line is mediocre, which it likely will be.
  • With a D like ours, who needs offense?Or so says Iowa. Their offense was pretty anemic last year, both in the B10 and nationally. Yet they played in a BCS game and soundly beat the ACC champ.  (Anyone wish we could flip flop the relative strengths of Michigan's O and D? I do.) 

 

Scoring Defense and Total Defense

 

 

Returning D Starters

Yrds/Game 2009

Big Ten Total D Rank 2009

NCAA Total D Rank 2009

Pts/Game 2009

Big Ten D Scoring Rank 2009

NCAA D Scoring Rank 2009

Michigan

8

393.33

9

82

27.5

8

77

Iowa

8

276.54

3

10

15.38

3

8

Wisconsin

6

305.69

4

17

21.77

4

33

MSU

6

380.85

8

73

26.31

7

77

Purdue

6

376.58

7

69

29.5

9

89

Illinois

6

403.25

11

91

30.17

11

96

OSU

5

262.31

1

5

12.54

2

5

Northwestern

5

350.46

5

47

24.46

6

55

PSU

5

274.46

2

9

12.23

1

3

Indiana

4

401

10

88

29.5

10

91

Minnesota

2

369.15

6

63

23.77

5

51

 Takeaways

  • Right, about that crappy offense. If you had your choice, whose 8 starters would you want back on defense, Iowa's or Michigan's? (Rhetorical) The Hawkeyes were Top 10 in both total and scoring D in '09.  While their Red Zone D overall efficiency was only middle of the pack (76th in the country ... teams scored on 83% of their opportunities), they didn't give up many Red Zone chances (only 29 all year, which was 8th best in the country), and their red zone TD defense was stout, giving up only 14 TDs in those 29 Opportunities for a 48% clip and 21st best in the country.
  • The Numbers for Wisconsin, PSU and OSU. All of these units were pretty damn good last year.  OSU and PSU have to replace 6 spots, but we know these teams, (especially OSU) lose guys annually and rarely see production drop off with new starters. Wisconsin doesn't have that same track record, but they have a good core coming back. While improving on 2009 performances would be tough, even status quo would be pretty good, and I'm expecting pretty much that.
  • Face lift. Minnesota will have a bunch of new guys running around. Typically not a good thing when you were an average NCAA defense the prior year.
  • Hoosiers will be generous. Indiana wasn't terribly gifted on D last year, lost a couple of the better defensive ends in the conference, and only return four starters. In other news, the world is round.
  • The rest of 'em. The balance of the conference had mediocre or poorer defenses last year. Other than Michigan, most are replacing at least 5 starters. I don't see any quantum leaps in improvement here.  

Enjoy your hot dogs, potato salad and parades this weekend.

Comments

whyyoumadtho

May 28th, 2010 at 12:28 PM ^

What i would love to know is 2008 stats and returning players and how that translated to 2009 season performance. It would give you a better indicator as to what should/could happen the next season. And keep track and see if a pattern starts to occur.

PhillipFulmersPants

May 28th, 2010 at 1:02 PM ^

historical perspective here is, well, totally absent.  Plus injuries between now and kick-off, or even early in the season, make the "returning starters" measurement somewhat fluid.  Drew Henson's foot, for example.  Or David Molk's knee.

I do plan to pull the data going forward, though, so maybe in two or three seasons, there will be some historical trends to look at.  The NCAA/Conference stats are pretty easy to grab going back a few years. I'll have to look for a quick source for  "returning starters" in previous years.  If I find them, I might put it together for the last 2-3 years.

bronxblue

May 28th, 2010 at 12:45 PM ^

Good stuff.  I expect PSU's offense to struggle without Robinson, but the defense should keep them in games.  I do think that people overrate the OSU offense a bit because of that Rose Bowl game against a pretty bad Oregon defense, but I agree that the pieces are there to compete.  Iowa is going to be good on defense all year, but it also strikes me as the type of defense that is more system-dominant than palyer-dominant, so the right type of offense (i.e. UM's) might have more success if they can just out-athlete them. 

Monocle Smile

May 28th, 2010 at 2:12 PM ^

you mean Daryll Clark, but point taken.

I agree with you about Iowa's defense; it's mostly a bunch of mediocre guys who do one or two things really well and because they execute their assignments properly, the right player makes the right play. They still might have two very dominant players in Adrian Clayborn and Tyler Sash, but after the game last year, I feel pretty good.

Bixler

May 28th, 2010 at 12:46 PM ^

One problem with our defense last year was the fact that we would give up the big play.  We seemed to do okay, but get worn down.  With the improved depth in the secondary, is it unrealistic that we could eliminate one touchdown a game?  If we did that, we would be giving up just over 20 points a game and be in the top half of the conference.  If we still score 30 a game, we would be in pretty good shape.  Any thoughts?

mgovictors23

May 28th, 2010 at 2:24 PM ^

I expect us to improve those numbers on offense, but defense is still really iffy. Definitely won't have problems moving the ball against Indiana. I can't even name a player on their defense to begin with.

markusr2007

May 28th, 2010 at 2:40 PM ^

defense.

The best defensive team in the Big Ten ends up with the conference championship hardware.  Two ingredients are really important:

1. leading rushing defense and

2. leading scoring defense.

Interestingly, having the best pass defense in the league doesn't correlate with winning a Big Ten title quite as strongly as rushing defense and scoring defense do.

OSU and PSU are not just doing things right on defense.  They are doing the right things (stop the run and keep opponents out of the end zone).

Big Ten Champions & Defensive Performance

       

Year

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

Conference Champ

UM

Iowa, UM

OSU, PSU

OSU

OSU

OSU, PSU

OSU

Best Scoring Defense

UM

UW

OSU

OSU

OSU

PSU

PSU

Best Rushing Defense

OSU

Iowa

OSU

UM

OSU

PSU

OSU

Best Passing Defense

PSU

UW

OSU

UW

OSU

OSU 

Iowa

PhillipFulmersPants

May 28th, 2010 at 3:28 PM ^

throughout entire CFB landscape. A couple weeks ago, I'd pulled AP Top 25 from last year (Final Poll) and looked at how they finished in several respective statistical categories as a collective group. No surprise which categories where the average was highest.  7 of the first 8 were defensive categories, and 8 of the first 10.

For fun, take a look what Alabama did in these same categories. And for not so fun, have a look at Michigan's.

 

NCAA "AP Top 25" Year End 2009 Ave. Rank

Alabama's 2009 Rank

Michigan's 2009 Rank

Scoring Defense

20.72

2

77

Total Defense

22.96

2

82

Rushing Defense

30.4

2

91

Scoring Offense

30.8

22

41

Pass Defense

32.2

10

67

3rd Down Conv. % Defense

32.24

6

40

Sacks

33.52

40

68

Red Zone TD Defense

33.76

2

50

Tackles for Loss

34.92

20

20

Red Zone Efficiency

35.4

29

116

Turnover Margin

37.68

4

115

Red Zone Defense

39.24

2

98

NCAA Rushing Offense Rank

41.72

12

25

Total Offense

43.36

42

59

3rd Down Conv. %

43.56

62

60

Red Zone TD Efficiency

45.58

108

37

Sacks Allowed

44.44

36

83

Tackles for Loss Allowed

49.96

24

114

NCAA Passing Offense Rank

60.16

92

81

PhillipFulmersPants

May 28th, 2010 at 3:32 PM ^

throughout entire CFB landscape. A couple weeks ago, I'd pulled AP Top 25 from last year (Final Poll) and looked at how they finished in several respective statistical categories as a collective group. No surprise which categories where the average was highest.  7 of the first 8 were defensive categories, and 8 of the first 10.

For fun, take a look what Alabama did in these same categories. And for not so fun, have a look at Michigan's.

 

NCAA "AP Top 25" Year End 2009 Ave. Rank

Alabama's 2009 Rank

Michigan's 2009 Rank

Scoring Defense

20.72

2

77

Total Defense

22.96

2

82

Rushing Defense

30.4

2

91

Scoring Offense

30.8

22

41

Pass Defense

32.2

10

67

3rd Down Conv. % Defense

32.24

6

40

Sacks

33.52

40

68

Red Zone TD Defense

33.76

2

50

Tackles for Loss

34.92

20

20

Red Zone Efficiency

35.4

29

116

Turnover Margin

37.68

4

115

Red Zone Defense

39.24

2

98

NCAA Rushing Offense Rank

41.72

12

25

Total Offense

43.36

42

59

3rd Down Conv. %

43.56

62

60

Red Zone TD Efficiency

45.58

108

37

Sacks Allowed

44.44

36

83

Tackles for Loss Allowed

49.96

24

114

NCAA Passing Offense Rank

60.16

92

81

 

EDIT: Crap. Can't figure out how to fix the table. Apologies.

markusr2007

May 28th, 2010 at 3:49 PM ^

I didn't thank you for posting youranalysis of both B10 offenses and defenses. Very good stuff.

As for Alabama defense vs. Michigan defense performance in 2009, holy Christ,  the GERG has major work to do without B. Graham, S. Brown and w/o Donovan Warren covering 1/3 of the real estate in the defensive backfield.  Double crap!!!!!

GunnersApe

May 30th, 2010 at 6:05 AM ^

Good stuff, l agrre withwhat  Bixler said above about the D (3ed and long). I'm also of the camp of runball/stop run=win. This could be a heck of a year for the runball part. Come on GREG.

I was watching NFL Total Access on friday and Mike Lombardi commenting on how Bill Parcells looks at O as you need to get to at least 50(rushes+comp) per game to go deep in the playoffs. Alright I'm rambling its 6am on Sunday and I only have 1 up of coffee. but I thought it was an interesting way to look at O.