Our Defense, Their Offense - Ostrich Strategem

Submitted by mistersuits on October 15th, 2010 at 11:46 AM

This week is an abbreviated session due to being out of town for a wedding.

MSU Post-mortem

Blargh! That is all.

The numbers predicted 35.1 points and 536 yards for Michigan State vs Michigan.

MSU had 34 points and... 536 yards.

Yikes. Not enough weeks of predictions to conclude a meaningful predictive trend, but still frightening.


  • As predicted, turnovers were the critical difference as Michigan left anywhere from 18 to 21 points on the field in losing the turnover battle.
  • Special teams didn't cost us the game, because the game was never close enough to be lost by special teams.
  • MSU rolled on us exactly as we would have expected.
  • Michigan's offense slowed down exactly as we feared.
  • Prediction wise, Michigan should have an offensive multiplier less than 100% against all remaining opponents until they can prove they can play otherwise vs. Big Ten opponents.
  • Defensively speaking, there's no need to modify how we are predicting our opponents' scoring/yardage at this time.
  • Without a way to predict turnovers, it appears these scoring predictions are only as good as the game remains turnover-neutral.

How about the rest of our opponents?

Chart of Offensive Expectations (through 6 weeks)

Rank Opponent N-PPG N-YPG SoS
1 osu 36.8 397 63.45
2 Michigan 34.6 495 68.98
3 Wisconsin 31.8 385 63.59
4 MSU 31.3 414 65.15
5 Connecticut 29.2 330 66.17
6 Iowa 28.9 367 64.08
7 Indiana 27.3 328 60.07
8 BGSU 24.9 289 68.10
9 Notre Dame 24.3 392 74.42
10 Illinois 23.9 346 72.90
11 UMass 23.1 349 58.02
12 Purdue 19.9 330 69.08
13 Penn State 17.3 319 70.54


N-PPG or Normalized Points-per-game is taken from the teams average PPG with a SoS multiplier factored in to deflate numbers from playing bad competition and inflate numbers based on playing good competition.

N-YPG or Normalized Yards-per-game is calculated using the same SoS multiplier as N-PPG but using this metric will help us determine a less variant guess as to how offenses will perform (PPG is subject to wild variance based on turnovers and special teams).

Strength of Schedule is taken from Sagarin rankings.

Usage: The chart doesn't predict that #3 would beat #5. Instead it tries to predict with the most accuracy how many points/yards on average each of these teams would score against a common opponent.


The Big Ten's collective strength of schedule takes a leap up and tightens. A lot of the numbers on this chart shift deceptively as a result.

  • Penn St. continues to struggle mightily [Ed-M: Penn St. does everything mightily /PSU fan]. Purdue also did not impress.
  • Wisconsin and MSU have separated themselves from the middle of the pack and established themselves.
  • Iowa didn't play and suffered from some SoS modifications, but really we don't find out about them until after this week. Awesome.
  • Illinois got a big boost this week and goes from a team we should definitely beat to a team we have to be concerned about.
  • Our out-of-conference slate continues to weaken as the weeks go on. This trends us towards a 6-8 win season rather than 8-10 wins.

Conclusions Based on Almost Enough Data

Like last week, I am giving our opponents 125% of their N-PPG and 150% of their N-YPG for predictions vs Michigan.

This is what I said a week ago:

Last year, this is where Michigan's offense fell off a cliff. The last seven Big10 games they averaged 20.1 PPG. They did not outgain any of their opponents and they lost the turnover battle nearly every time.

Ugh. I wanted so badly to say that this was going to be a very different year than 2009, but now through six games I can't ignore the parallels.

Also, I need to define a scoring range based on turnover margins.

Best Case:

Michigan's new best-case scenario (Michigan offense operates at or near 100% N-PPG and opponents score 125%) in the Big Ten is 5-3. Purdue, Illinois, Penn St. and... Iowa. Statistically, we must win this weekend in order to go above .500 in conference play.

Worst Case

In a worst-case scenario, we fall behind our two remaining @Purdue and @Penn St. These are two road games against opponents whose offenses are struggling and for whom Michigan's defense might be the perfect medicine. Illinois looks scarier than a week ago. Iowa and Wisconsin are both very intimidating. Until our offense proves it can execute at a high level in a Big Ten game not named Indiana, this is the direction we are trending.

The Truth!

Our new outlook ranges between 7-5 and 9-3!

Prediction for Iowa:

Everything that we did not want to happen last weekend, happened.

Based strictly on the numbers:

Team PPG vs Mich YPG vs Mich
Iowa 36.1 550

Dear god, help us.

It's about time for our defense to turn in a performance that exceeds expectations, and when these are your expectations one can only pray that they are exceeded.

If they are, Michigan might have a shot in this game - but only if our offense actually puts together a real game when it counts in the Big Ten.


Michigan 28
Iowa 38




October 15th, 2010 at 12:17 PM ^

Demens > Ezeh (please?!)

Shaw > Smith

Hopkins > Shaw > Smith on third and 1

Dilithium w/ experience against strong B10 D > Dilithium w/out it

Michigan 31 Iowa 28

Go Blue!


October 15th, 2010 at 1:05 PM ^

I don't think it's time to give up on the offense just yet.  We were able to move the ball against Iowa last year.  This could be close but I hope it's a blowout for the hometeam like THE_KNOWLEDGE tells us


October 15th, 2010 at 1:08 PM ^

You have a typo, it should be Michigan 38 Iowa 28. 

No big deal, just please change it at your earliest convenience.  


But seriously, I hope our defense comes to play this Saturday and not just for one quarter but the whole game. Also, it will help because our offense will be much more sharp compared to last weekend.


October 15th, 2010 at 2:45 PM ^

Save our souls, how does Iowa have a better SoS than we do?

Edit: They've played Eastern Illinois, Iowa State, Ball State, AZ and Penn State

Us: MSU, ND, uConn, Indiana...and two bad teams.  That's not such an advantage for us, but it's gotta be better than Iowas?

OSUMC Wolverine

October 15th, 2010 at 3:46 PM ^

I am firmly in the camp that last week was a blip in the radar rather than the way the rest of the season will play out.  We were an Obi away from both of those long runs in the first half not having happened (what ever happened to keeping shoulders square and watching the ball carrier).  The offense fell victim to losing faith after a less than effective start putting points on the board in spite of 263 yards in the first half.  That game could have easily been 21-28 to 7 UM at halftime and the second half would have played out differently with a very young, confident team.  We were rattled for a game, not defeated for a season.  This week will be a very different animal....we are playing for our psychological well-being and the coaches know it.  There will be no holding back--and Obi will have a short leash among other things.  I still believe we can be a 9-10 win team--the trick is getting the young men on this team to believe the same.


October 16th, 2010 at 10:28 AM ^

out non-conference and B10 opponents is under RR, Michigan is avg around 26 ppg offensively whereas th O is scoring over 10 ppg more in non-conference play.  The scary thing is, that the theory that this offense won't work in the B10 is proving somewhat true thus far.

I understand this is the first year where RR has "his" QB and all, but last week the O stalled, the turnovers were a huge reason.  If Denard plays his "normal" game, think the results are quite different, but the one thing this offense lacks is a reliable big back to get those 3rd and 2, 4th and 1 1st downs.  The B10 forces you to have a bigger, stronger RB that can get yards after the first hit.  So far we don'e have that back.

I can't explain it, but I was really nervous about last week.  This week, I have a "calm" about this game.  What that means...I have no idea.  Either way I'll be in my seats at the Big House cheering for the Wolverines.



October 16th, 2010 at 10:56 AM ^

It might be the case that we have that big back but for some reason the coaching staff refuses to give him the ball very much. Hopkins came into the MSU game and had consecutive hard, knock-the-pile back runs of 7 and 6 yards, and then he disappeared from the game plan. I'm still scratching my head over that.