National Statistics And How Close Are We To That Winning Season?

Submitted by Enjoy Life on August 28th, 2010 at 1:23 PM

Will Michigan have a winning record this year, how close are we, and where do we need to improve to get there? I decided to look at National Rankings for Offense and Defense and the corresponding Win/Loss record.

 I reviewed all the offensive and defense stats and Scoring Offense and Defense has the best correlation to wins and losses. (This is probably obvious but some folks seem to get all excited about Total Offense and Defense based on yardage. Last time I checked, yardage has never determined the winner of a football game.) There are now 120 FBS teams so I picked a rank of #60 for the analysis.

For the past ten years:

  • 98% of teams that are ranked #60 or higher for both Scoring Offense and Scoring Defense had winning records.
  • 62% of teams that are ranked #60 or higher for either Scoring Offense or Scoring Defense (but not both) had winning records.
  • 6% of teams that are ranked #60 or higher for neither Scoring Offense nor Scoring Defense had winning records.

Here is a table showing National Rankings for the last 10 years:

  1. The number of teams that finished with BOTH Scoring Offense and Defense Ranked in the Top 60. Of those, the number with winning records, and the % with winning records.
  2. The number of teams that finished with EITHER Scoring Offense or Defense Ranked in the Top 60. Of those, the number with winning records, and the % with winning records.
  3. The number of teams that finished with NEITHER Scoring Offense nor Defense Ranked in the Top 60. Of those, the number with winning records, and the % with winning records.

Year

 

Both Top 60

WR

%

 

Just One

WR

%

 

Neither

WR

%

2009

 

34

34

100%

 

51

30

59%

 

35

2

6%

2008

 

37

37

100%

 

42

30

71%

 

40

2

5%

2007

 

34

33

97%

 

52

33

63%

 

33

1

3%

2006

 

31

30

97%

 

52

35

67%

 

36

4

11%

2005

 

34

33

97%

 

50

29

58%

 

33

1

3%

2004

 

31

29

94%

 

58

28

48%

 

28

4

14%

2003

 

42

42

100%

 

34

22

65%

 

41

2

5%

2002

 

40

39

98%

 

35

25

71%

 

42

3

7%

2001

 

38

37

97%

 

45

29

64%

 

32

1

3%

2000

 

37

37

100%

 

43

24

56%

 

34

3

9%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

 

358

351

98%

 

462

285

62%

 

354

23

6%

The next table shows Offensive and Defensive PPG for teams ranked #1, #60, and #120 (or last team when there were less than 120):

 

Offense PPG

 

Defense PPG

 

Year

#1

#60

#120

#1

#60

#120

2009

42.21

27.42

11.46

10.43

25.46

43.08

2008

51.14

24.38

12.67

9.00

24.67

47.58

2007

43.38

27.85

15.08

12.80

27.00

45.10

2006

46.86

23.42

9.58

11.00

22.80

41.70

2005

50.15

26.64

9.73

10.70

24.82

45.30

2004

49.75

24.82

14.00

11.30

25.50

42.60

2003

43.00

26.83

11.17

11.00

25.50

39.30

2002

45.62

27.25

13.92

11.80

26.30

47.20

2001

46.77

26.58

10.82

9.40

25.70

45.00

2000

44.91

25.55

8.73

9.60

25.50

41.10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Average

46.38

26.07

11.72

10.70

25.33

43.80

Now, let’s look at a table showing Rich Rodriguez’s National Ranking at WVU and Michigan.

Year

Offense National Rank

 

Defense National Rank

 

 

 

WVU

Rushing

Passing

Total

Scoring

Rushing

Passing

Total

Scoring

TOM

Record

2001

36

96

80

89

104

1

40

51

98

3-8

2002

2

108

18

33

30

55

33

40

4

9-4

2003

13

105

72

40

34

104

74

44

4

8-5

2004

7

104

26

29

50

32

37

28

46

8-4

2005

4

115

50

31

19

34

15

13

7

11-1

2006

2

100

5

3

13

109

62

49

25

11-2

2007

3

114

15

9

18

14

7

8

9

11-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

U/M

Rushing

Passing

Total

Scoring

Rushing

Passing

Total

Scoring

TOM

Record

2008

59

108

109

101

50

87

67

84

104

3-9

2009

25

81

59

41

91

67

82

77

115

5-7

Conclusions:

  1. From 2008 to 2009, U/M improved in all phases of the game except Rushing Defense which went from #50 in 2008 to a very ugly #91 in 2009 and, of course, TOM which went from gawd awful to worse!
  2. U/M’s Offense is already good enough to result in a winning record. There is no reason to believe it will not continue to improve this year.
  3. So, yeah, Defense is the key. If we can improve from #77 to at least #60, a winning record should be a lock. How much improvement is this? Our defense allowed 27.5 PPG and the #60 ranked team allowed 25.5 PPG. So that is about a 10% improvement.  The #40 ranked team allowed 22.4 PPG which would be about a 20% improvement.
  4. For Rushing Defense, we allowed 172 YPG and the #60 team allowed 144 YPG. That is about a 16% improvement. This should be doable. The strongest part of our defense will be against the run. The most experience is at OL and LB (4 seniors, a junior, and Death ROH).
  5. For Passing Defense, we allowed 221 YPG and the #60 team allowed 218 YPG. That is less than a 2% improvement. So, if the DBs can just stay the course we should be OK.
  6. Look at those Offensive Passing Ranks for WVU! Yikes, I knew RR’s scheme was a run first spread offense but I never thought the passing would be that low. Even though I have been an advocate for Tate to start because of his experience, RR history says the stronger runner will start. Uh, that would be Denard.
  7. As to the question of which is more important – Offense or Defense – the answer is: They Are Equal. Over the 10 years, 88 teams that finished in the top 60 in offense but not in defense had losing records and 89 teams that finished in the top 60 in defense but not offense had losing records.

You can check how we are doing during the year at:

http://web1.ncaa.org/mfb/mainpage.jsp?year=2010

Comments

Mr. Robot

August 28th, 2010 at 1:30 PM ^

You have made me fell good inside about this season by doing what MGoBloggers do, i.e. throwing lots of numbers and charts at me that overwhelmingly say I should be confident.

Here's to hoping improvement makes the numbers pan out. Single digit rankings would be nice.

kb

August 28th, 2010 at 1:40 PM ^

with a high ranking offense and a low ranking defense vs. those with a high ranking defense and a low ranking offense.....the former could very easily resemble what the team looks like this year.

WolverBean

August 28th, 2010 at 2:41 PM ^

but I'd love to see how these charts look if you use a 0.667 win percentage (e.g.8-4) as your metric rather than 0.500 (winning season) as you have here.  What fraction of teams with scoring offense and (or) scoring defense ranked #40 or better go 8-4 or better?  Looks like our offense is only one place away from that already, while the defense is a long way off.  So I guess the real question is, what fraction of teams who ranked #40 or better in only one of the two (offense or defense) went 8-4 or better?

A second interesting follow-up question:  you note that for a 0.500 record, offense and defense are equally important.  I wonder if that equality holds as you raise the bar for win total.  Are offense and defense equally important for reaching, say, 10 wins?  Previous work suggests that at some point, defense becomes more important.  (Though that may be a slightly apples-to-oranges comparison, as MCalibur used yards, not scoring rank.)

Enjoy Life

August 28th, 2010 at 4:25 PM ^

I looked at 2009.

There were 17 teams that had BOTH offense and defense in the Top 40 -- 15 had an 8-4 reocrd or better (88%).

There were 45 Teams that were in the Top 40 for either Offense or Defense -- 19 had a record of 8-4 or better (42%).

34 Teams had a record of 8-4 or better.

Of these 15 were in the Top 40 for both Offense and Defense

11 were in the Top 40 for one and in the Top 60 for the other.

8 were in the Top 40 for one and were NOT in the Top 60 for other.

No teams were 8-4 or better without having at least either Offense or Defense in the Top 40.

Edward Khil

August 28th, 2010 at 3:15 PM ^

Your response to mgoshoe makes it likely that you are talking about PPG, that is, for example, the total points scored as the result of passing plays would be "passing offense" in your charts above.  When I googled scoring offense, though, the first website I found  (sportsratings.typepad.com) defined scoring offense as "expected score attained against the average I-A (FBS) defense," and didn't distinguish between passing and running offense.  (FTR, 2009 Michigan was ranked 54th in offense and 84th in defense.)  I'm sure there are other ways of measuring scoring offense and defense.

My interpretation of your metrics is that you are only looking at those particular plays that resulted in a touchdown.  That is, a team could matriculate down the field for 79 yards on all pass plays, then run it in from the 1-yard line, and you would count it as a rushing score.  Is that correct?

Thanks,

Enjoy Life

August 29th, 2010 at 7:02 AM ^

I believe you are correct. The data is from the NCAA website. I tried to find their definition but have not been successful.

http://web1.ncaa.org/mfb/natlRank.jsp?year=2009&div=IA&site=org

EDIT: I must have had a brain freeze. Looking at the data, it is obvious the offense and defense rankings for "rushing" and "passing" and "total"are based on YPG whereas the ranking for "scoring" is based on PPG.

So, even though I based the analysis on PPG, to get a look at where improvements might be needed, I had no choice but to go back to YPG to differentiate between rushing vs. passing.

 I don't think it would be meaningful to break down PPG by rushing vs. passing. There would also be a problem with extra points and field goals. (Would these be categorized as passing because they go through the air? -- just kidding.)

chunkums

August 28th, 2010 at 3:13 PM ^

The thing that stands out to me is the 2006-2007 improvement for WVU's defense.  They went from 62 to 7 overall!?!?  Furthermore, the pass defense went from 109 to 14.  Wouldn't it be tits if we saw that kind of improvement?

MaizenBlueBP

August 28th, 2010 at 4:24 PM ^

Good work sir.  Turnovers are the biggest thing that holds a team back.  Had we been more cautious with the football last year we would have went bowling.  Iowa, MSU, and Illinois come to mind, because all 3 of those should have been victories.  This year is going to be great.  Revenge is best served cold.

MCalibur

August 28th, 2010 at 7:56 PM ^

Take a look at the offensive and defensive rankings for the National Champions since 2000, all of them had top 10 defenses. Ohio State was the only exception; they were ranked in the low twenties. A good offense can stop themselves, a good defense rarely hurts themselves. If I had to pick between having an elite offense and having an elite defense, I'd pick defense every time.

Also, points scored obviously determines the outcome of games. However, yardage is a more reliable gauge of the quality of a team's performance. Two top of mind examples are Michigan v. Wisconsin 2008 and Michigan v. Michigan State 2009. The final score of either one of those games did not indicate just how badly Michigan was dominated in both cases. In the case of that Wisconsin game, the points say the Michigan was the better team, that's simply not the case.

Enjoy Life

August 28th, 2010 at 9:18 PM ^

Not sure if using 1 team is a very good basis for analysis (well, I am sure it is NOT a good basis). Here are all the teams with WLM (Win/Loss Margin) of 8 or greater in 2009 and their rankings. To me this still indicates that offense and defense are equal.

    OFF DEF WLM
Team CONF 2009    
Boise St WAC 1 14 14
Alabama SEC 22 2 14
Texas Big12 3 12 12
Florida SEC 10 4 12
Cincinnatti BigEast 4 44 11
TCU MW 5 6 11
Central Mich MAC 13 17 10
BYU MW 11 29 9
Ohio State Big10 49 5 9
Penn State Big10 52 3 9
Iowa Big10 86 8 9
Georgia Tech ACC 15 56 8

MCalibur

August 28th, 2010 at 9:39 PM ^

What are you talking about? I said National Champions since 2000. Going by generally accepted pre-school mathmematical practices that's 10 teams. All 10 BCS National Champions from the last DECADE had great defenses; 9 of them were in the top-10 of their season. If that isn't a clear validation of the cliche "defense wins championships" I can't help you. I'll say it again, if given a choice, I'll take an elite defense.

Year Team Def Rank
2000
Oklahoma 8
2001 Miami (Florida) 6
2002 Ohio State 23
2003 LSU 1
2004 USC 6
2005 Texas 10
2006 Florida 6
2007 LSU 3
2008 Florida 9
2009 Alabama 2

Enjoy Life

August 28th, 2010 at 9:59 PM ^

Hmmmm, you are right. I still don't think 10 data points over 10 years is significant.

But, more importantly, you seem to have left out the Offense ranking for those same teams and, you apparently used YPG for Defense ranking which (as I said) does not correlate as much as PPG to win/loss records.

Here is the Offense and Defense ranks based on PPG.

Year   OFF DEF
2009 Alabama 22 2
2008 Florida 3 4
2007 LSU 11 17
2006 Florida 23 6
2005 Texas  1 8
2004 USC 6 3
2003 LSU 19 1
2002 osu 41 2
2001 Miami 3 1
2000 Oklahoma 7 7

So, yes, you are correct that more MNC had Defenses in the Top 10 (9) But, 5 also had Top 10 Offenses.

MCalibur

August 28th, 2010 at 10:31 PM ^

I guess my skull hasn't been bashed into enough walls this week. Oy...

Dude, you've only made my point stronger. Over half (6 of 10) of those defenses were in the top 5 (!!!) in their championship year. The "worst" defense improved from ranked 23 to 17.

Also, is 9 (top 10 defenses) not more than 5 (top 10 offenses)? I'm not sure but, isn't it almost double?

Those aren't just 10 data points, brother. That's 100% of a decade's worth of national champions. It's also 100% of the available data. There's only 1 best team in the country every year. Winning the crystal football is the friggin point!

Sigh, whatever. If it makes you feel better, I relent. (That means you win.) That'll save us both 12 hours and, me, a bottle of aspirin.

outwest

August 29th, 2010 at 3:51 PM ^

I wish I would have thought about doing something like this for my methodology class when I was in school.  It would have made the project a lot more fun to work on.  Here is to hoping the whats on paper is what happens on the field.