Conference Play Sort Of Begins: The Big Ten Picture After Four Games

Submitted by LSAClassOf2000 on September 23rd, 2013 at 11:19 AM

CONFERENCE PLAY SORT OF BEGINS: THE BIG TEN AFTER FOUR GAMES

As many of you are likely aware, there was indeed one conference game this weekend and one team actually did not play, and these two facts contribute to the fairly respectable 8-3 performance of the Big Ten over this past week. We saw a good mix of drubbings and nailbiters, with our own game perhaps uncomfortably sitting in the latter category.

SCORING OFFENSE AND DEFENSE:

The “Points For” metric here should not shock anyone – Ohio State fills the spot that Vanderbilt would have occupied on their schedule with air and then handily bloodlets air by a score of 76-0, thereby securing them the top spot in average scoring. You have to travel down to seventh to find Michigan, averaging a still respectable 38 points per game coming out of non-conference play. Typically, that ends up being upper-tier performance in conference play.

 photo Week4PointsFor_zps86eaadbd.png

The left side of the “Points Against” chart is basically what happens when you schedule teams that you are fairly certain that you can curbstomp (like Purdue), although this year it hasn’t exactly worked out that way for everyone. All the same, several teams are buoyed by shutouts and/or dominating performances against inferior competition. Michigan sits at seventh here as well, giving up an average of 21 points per game (although not all of this is the defense per se).

 photo Week4PointsAgainst_zps78fcc55b.png

Here is the scoring differential, mainly so you can see Boilerquest.

 photo Week4PointDiff_zpsf2e9134d.png

TOTAL OFFENSE AND DEFENSE:

With only non-conference games in the books (with a noted exception), it’s difficult to say a lot about average yards per game on offense. Nine teams are averaging 400 or more, Michigan included -  granted, we are ninth.

 photo Week4YardsOffense_zps6840b1b3.png

Michigan come sixth in yards allowed, with Michigan State allowing the least on average. The ND and Akron games sort of weigh on the average for Michigan, so in conference play, this will hopefully drop further. For perspective, it isn’t Nebraska or Illinois.

 photo Week4YardsDefense_zpsc111d4c1.png

Here is the yard per play differential. Once again, Boilerquest.

 photo Week4YardsDiff_zps0f7921d6.png

RUSHING OFFENSE AND DEFENSE:

Michigan is ninth in the conference right now in rushing, although we’re not that far off our average in-game total from last year. Wisconsin, whose rushing game is the talk of the conference it seems, is far and away the leader here.

 photo Week4RushingOff_zps76706113.png

As for stopping the run, we’re quite good at it so far based on four games of data. In fact, five Big Ten teams have held their opponents to under 100 yards on average, although some of the opponents in question don’t typically do much rushing.

 photo Week4RushingDef_zpscf9ceb4e.png

PASSING OFFENSE AND DEFENSE:

Michigan is seventh right now in passing offense, but again, 215 yards per game isn’t really terrible as an average and it is four games. Indiana throws it a lot, but then you look at their defense and see what they need to try and overcome, right?

 photo Week4PassingOff_zps81f4eb3b.png

Stopping big pass plays? We average 232 yards of passing allowed. Four teams right now are allowing under 200 yards passing per game, but at this point, some of this is due to some opponents not being terribly gifted in, well, any phase of the game.

 photo Week4PassingDef_zps26753b97.png

THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS:

First, here’s Boilerquest on the tempo-free stats –

 photo Week4ThirdDownDiff_zps268deba8.png

We’re in the middle of the pack on converting third downs – we are 48.1% successful in this metric, which is a slight decrease from last week actually.

 photo Week4ThirdDownOff_zpsd42fb808.png

We improved quite a bit on the other side. Making UConn relatively unsuccessful (1 for 11) on third down put us once again below 40% in third downs allowed.

 photo Week4ThirdDownDef_zps2e789b82.png

SPECIAL TEAMS:

Here’s the kickoff and punt return picture

 photo Week4PuntReturn_zps3540f0e3.png  photo Week4KickoffReturns_zps6b65be68.png

TURNOVER MARGIN:

Presented without comment –

TURNOVER MARGIN

Margin

Per/G

1

Nebraska

4

1

 

Ohio State

4

1

 

Northwestern

4

1

4

Minnesota

3

0.75

 

Michigan State

3

0.75

 

Wisconsin

3

0.75

7

Iowa

2

0.5

8

Illinois

1

0.33

9

Purdue

0

0

10

Indiana

-2

-0.5

11

Penn State

-3

-0.75

12

Michigan

-5

-1.25

 

Comments

Soulfire21

September 23rd, 2013 at 11:32 AM ^

We turn the ball over a lot.  I wonder how much that can be attributed to the skill (or lack thereof) of our players and how much can be attributed to luck and randomness.

1989 UM GRAD

September 23rd, 2013 at 11:50 AM ^

...which clearly shows that turnover margin is the #1 issue affecting the team's performance.  We're in the middle of the pack (which still isn't great) in almost all of the other metrics.

Moving us up to middle of the pack (tied for #4?) in turnover margin makes the Akron and UConn games comfortable victories...and probably also improves our performance in each of the other areas.

I'm not knowledgable enough to know why DG is having the issues he's having...but clearly they need to be cleaned up.

 

charblue.

September 23rd, 2013 at 3:12 PM ^

where you stand, it's interesting to note that a team dead last in turnover margin, remains 4-0, while Michigan rivals, one with a notorius defense, and the other perennially notorious on both sides of the ball, are pretty much playing according to Hoyle. 

MSU's defense leads in every conference category including giving up fewest yards per game at 188, well below the 200-yard Mendoza line. The Spartans give up fewer first downs passing and rushing than any other conference defense and the least amount per game. They have given up only 48 on the season and only 9 by rushing. Here's the thing: even though their defense has scored off turnovers this year, they are only plus 3 in TO margin. 

On offense, Kenny Guiton is listed like last in quarterback rankings based on yardage only. He is the leader in almost every other significant category. 

Basically, MSU is thriving on defense and Ohio is thriving like no one's business with their backup quarterback replacing an alleged Heisman Trophy candidate. 

So, while Michigan can't get out of its own way turnover-wise, it's quarterback who has more picks than TDs, also is third in the conference total yardage and on track to duplicate the kind of recent seasons that Denard had. As of now, Gardner is third in the conference in total yardage at 1102 yards, including 801 passing. Imagine what he might be capable of when he stops making mistakes.