That’s better. At least, according to 309 of you, the fans, it was better by far than the last couple weeks. The victory over Purdue led to a big leap in fan satisfaction, from 62.9 last week to 76.2 this week. There was also a lot less disagreement about how to rate this game – the standard deviation this week was just 8.7, compared to about 15 last week.
Figure 1. Post-Purdue Satisfaction
Is this an obvious result?
On the one hand, the vectors promoting increased fan satisfaction included (at least) the following. Michigan:
- Won its first true road game of the year
- Started off Big Ten play with a solid win, beating a chippy, trash talking, and ascending team that several people had picked to upset the Wolverines
- Welcomed the Big Ten’s next hot shot young coach with a beat down
- Got revenge for an egregious (and uncalled) targeting penalty that knocked out our starting quarterback
- Dazzled the nation with its defense again
- Saw its tight ends emerge as the real threats we knew they could be
- And holy crap John O’Korn!!!
On the other hand, there were at least two very large negatives that should be putting a damper on fan satisfaction today. Most obviously, Michigan suffered the potentially devastating loss of its starting quarterback and Speight’s timeline for returning remains a mystery. Yes, many folks were only too happy to see O’Korn take the wheel, but it is a bit curious that satisfaction could be so high in a game where your starting QB got injured. I’m trying to remember a game where folks came out feeling so sanguine after losing such an important leader – on either side of the ball. Can’t do it just yet.
The other troubling note was the horrendous play of the offensive line. Michigan’s sackapalooza lost a little glory thanks to the fact it gave up 4 sacks and 8 TFLs to Purdue’s sub-par defense. The running game sputtered as a result, too. Taking out Chris Evan’s 49-yard touchdown run, Michigan managed just 90 yards on 43 carries. Woof.
So why did this week’s game get a 76.2? Would it have been higher if Speight had stayed in the game and Michigan and eked out a narrower victory? I doubt it. It seems to me that John O’Korn’s amazing second half performance was dazzling enough to overcome the more sobering aspects of the game. But did Speight’s injury and the poor offensive line play keep the game rating from being even higher? Maybe a little. Who knows?
That’s the beauty of sports and being a fan – you can feel however you want, for whatever reason strikes you. That’s why we do the surveys. You can hypothesize all you want but never know exactly what you’re going to get until to take the poll.
Figure 2. Week 4 Season Satisfaction
When it came to updated feelings about the season, however, the Purdue bump was not nearly so big. This week season satisfaction was at 76.7 compared to 72.7 last week, but did not quite make it back to the 77.2 recorded after the Cincinnati game. This makes sense: as Michigan plays more games not all of them will produce enough new information to move the needle. And it seems likely that the offense’s continued struggles and Speight’s injury weighed more heavily in people’s assessments at the season level. Michigan is undefeated, sure, but many of us worry that Michigan’s offense won’t improve enough in time to knock off Penn State, Wisconsin, and Ohio State, despite the play of the defense.
Themes, Thoughts, Trends
They Saw a Game: The Social Construction of “Takes”
Over the past two weeks we’ve confirmed what everyone pretty much knew: hot takes are all over the map compared to cold takes. As the emotions of the moment fade, we’re less likely to overreact to our most recent experiences, good or bad, and judge things a bit more rationally.
But what also happens is that people talk to each other, trying to interpret what they saw. At first, people might disagree violently about the game – Speight was fine/Speight sucked/etc. Eventually, after enough debate and deliberation, the crowd usually finds a consensus narrative, or a pair of competing narratives.
This week’s hot take/cold take figure provides visually compelling evidence for this process. The average game satisfaction didn’t change too much from Sunday to Tuesday, but as the figure shows, the dispersion of takes certainly did. And as the bonus table indicates, Sunday’s hot takes were lower and higher than those on Monday, which in turn were higher and lower than those on Tuesday. The standard deviation of ratings on Tuesday was just half of what it was on Sunday. In English, by Tuesday the crowd had really started to coalesce around the game narrative.
Figure 3. Hot, Cold, Colder
Bonus Table: Purdue Game Satisfaction by Day
Measuring Momentum: The Season So Far
We still only have three games worth of data (repeat after me: “small sample size!”). But now that we have a few weeks of data we can start making comparisons anyway, generating hypotheses to test as we move on down the road.
The next two charts are “KDE plots” – basically smoothed out histograms. You lose the easy-to-read units on the Y-axis but you can compare the shapes of the distributions more readily and this format makes it easier to plot them together.
One big question in my mind for the future is how much the epic destruction of Sparty in a night game will move the needle.
Figure 4. Game Satisfaction Comps: Cincinnati, Air Force, Purdue
Figure 5. Season Satisfaction Comps: Weeks 2-4
Figure 6. The Season So Far