Comparison: Penalties in the Michigan vs. Michigan State Rivalry

Submitted by profitgoblue on October 8th, 2010 at 11:34 AM

ESPN provided some decent background information to allow me to analyze data on penalties in the Michigan-Michigan State game dating back to 2003. The results are very interesting, in my opinion, and also very telling about the differences in discipline and importance that is placed on this rivalry by the respective teams. See the below and draw your own conclusions:

(The "Against" row lists penalties called against Michigan and the total yardage lost and the "For" row lists penalties called against Michigan State and the total yardage gained due to these penalties.)

  2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Against 4-29 7-74 2-7 3-25 4-45 7-70 2-15
For 7-75 14-123 5-27 11-87 9-71 7-52 8-94
   Away  Home  Away  Home  Away  Home  Away
  Win Win Win Win Win Loss Loss

Based on the data, Michigan has averaged 4.14 penalties per game as compared to Michigan State's average of 8.71 penalties per game. That is a pretty large disparity and could have an impact on the game. Most glaringly, notice 2004 and 2006 data! Also, MSU appears to commit more penalties in Ann Arbor than playing at home in Spartan Stadium.  This makes sense but its still an interesting tidbit nonetheless.

Another interesting discovery is that this game used to be played much later in the season than the past two years. I personally think its better played earlier in the Big Ten season like this year than later as it was in 2003.

Footnote: Does the disparity in penalties per game provide fuel for the fire that Desmond was purposely tripped in the end zone? (I'm still bitter about that one!)



October 8th, 2010 at 11:36 AM ^

MSU has always been known as dirty players.  Especially during this game.  They will take cheap shots and try to hurt the other players.  It's the coward's way out.  A path that Sparty is all to familiar with.


October 8th, 2010 at 11:51 AM ^

There is the old saying "Sports don't build character, they reveal it." 

Games can easily show character/discipline flaws-- esp. in high emotional rivalries. That doesn't always equate to penalties-- but those are interesting stats nonetheless.


October 8th, 2010 at 2:04 PM ^

Eddie Brown ADMITTED to tripping Desmond several years ago in a Freep article.  There is nothing else to discuss about that topic.  It was straight from the players lips.


October 9th, 2010 at 12:01 AM ^

I'd be very interested to see a penalty breakdown for this...with such a high yardage per penalty ratio, at cursory glance looks like its a lot of personal fouls on MSU mediated by some procedural 5-yarders.


October 11th, 2010 at 2:18 AM ^

I wouldn't have guessed the data showing what it does. The question now is, does the wide disparity prevent more penalties from being called against state? There was a lot of holding not called Saturday, maybe the officials don't want to look to over zealous?