Tempo Free Big Ten Football Stats

Submitted by ehatch on November 20th, 2012 at 2:17 PM

 

 

 

Over the last few years tempo free statistics in basketball have become more prevalent.  I almost scoff when announcers use regular per game averages, so I thought I would try to take a look at tempo free statistics for football.  It might not be as prevalent in football because there is a lower spread in tempos.  In basketball, there is a big difference between Wisconsin’s 58 possessions a game and North Carolina’s 72 possessions a game[1].  In football, Michigan had 11 possessions a game, while Nebraska had 13.8 possessions per game.  [Sorry I didn’t track Oregon, but I would imagine they are at or above Nebraska].  This is a very simplistic look at what Tempo Free football might look like.

The first step is simple enough I divided the total yards by the possessions for Yards Per Possession (YPP) and total Points by possessions for Points Per Possession (PPP).  A few adjustments were made, 1st I didn’t include any overtime yardage or possessions because it skews the YPP down and the PPP up.  2nd I didn’t count any kneel downs at the end of the game or half as a possession (but I didn’t adjust the yardage for that kneel down – I don’t believe that this would result in a significant difference in results).  I only looked at the Big Ten to adjust for schedule strength such as Michigan playing the #1 and #2 teams in the country, while Ohio toughs it out against 3-9 California at home. 

Brian’s alter ego can’t make it today, but here’s a bunch of charts anyway.  (Numbers in parenthesis is the traditional yards per game rank in the Big Ten).  Commentary will follow at the end. 

Rank

Team

Yards per Possession

1

Michigan (5)

              36.16

2

PSU (1)

              34.03

3

Ohio (3)

              34.00

4

Wisconsin (4)

              33.83

5

Nebraska (2)

              32.19

6

Northwestern (7)

              30.20

7

Indiana (6)

              28.88

8

Purdue (8)

              27.02

9

MSU (9)

              26.39

10

Iowa (10)

              25.66

11

Minnesota (11)

              24.59

12

Illinois (12)

              22.50

       

 

Despite being 5th in the traditional measure, Michigan accumulates the most yards per possession in the Big Ten.  The scoring offense is similar

Rank

Team

Points per Possession

1

Ohio (1)

              2.93

2

Michigan (3)

              2.87

3

Wisconsin (4)

              2.53

4

PSU (2)

              2.45

5

Northwestern (6)

              2.28

6

Nebraska (5)

              2.22

7

Indiana (7)

              2.06

8

Iowa (8)

              1.71

9

Minnesota (11)

              1.49

10

Purdue (t9)

              1.48

11

MSU (t9)

              1.43

12

Illinois (12)

              1.05

Defensive Stats:

Rank

Team

Yards per Possession

1

Wisconsin (2)

              21.78

2

Nebraska (3)

              22.79

3

Michigan (1)

              25.77

4

MSU (4)

              25.77

5

Ohio (5)

              27.15

6

PSU (6)

              27.62

7

Minnesota (7)

              31.49

8

Illinois (8)

              32.66

9

Northwestern (9)

              33.18

10

Purdue (10)

              33.19

11

Iowa (11)

              35.95

12

Indiana (12)

              38.46

 

Rank

Team

Points per Possession

1

Wisconsin (2)

              1.24

2

Michigan (1)

              1.39

3

MSU (3)

              1.51

4

PSU (4)

              1.71

5

Nebraska (t7)

              1.94

6

Northwestern (6)

              2.05

7

Ohio (5)

              2.07

8

Iowa (t7)

              2.20

9

Minnesota (9)

              2.37

10

Illinois (11)

              2.46

11

Purdue (10)

              2.51

12

Indiana (12)

              2.96

 

While using Big Ten only stats eliminates most of the schedule disparity there is still some schedule imbalance.  To adjust for this I divided the individual YPP by the opponent average then averaged the result. 

First the offense:

Rank

Team

Yards

1

Nebraska

118.9%

2

Ohio

118.3%

3

Michigan

117.6%

4

Wisconsin

107.9%

5

PSU

107.6%

6

Northwestern

105.4%

7

Indiana

99.5%

8

Purdue

92.3%

9

MSU

89.3%

10

Iowa

85.8%

11

Minnesota

85.0%

12

Illinois

76.8%

 

Rank

Team

Points

1

Ohio

140.9%

2

Nebraska

131.3%

3

Michigan

130.0%

4

Northwestern

124.3%

5

Indiana

108.3%

6

PSU

106.4%

7

Wisconsin

104.7%

8

Iowa

85.5%

9

Purdue

77.3%

10

Minnesota

75.7%

11

MSU

65.3%

12

Illinois

52.4%

 

Now the Defense:

Rank

Team

Yards

1

Nebraska

74.2%

2

Wisconsin

78.0%

3

MSU

83.4%

4

Ohio

91.6%

5

Michigan

92.4%

6

PSU

97.1%

7

Illinois

104.3%

8

Minnesota

107.6%

9

Purdue

111.4%

10

Northwestern

113.4%

11

Iowa

124.7%

12

Indiana

128.7%

 

Rank

Team

Points

1

Wisconsin

71.5%

2

MSU

81.3%

3

Nebraska

86.8%

4

PSU

88.2%

5

Michigan

89.2%

6

Northwestern

100.4%

7

Illinois

106.7%

8

Iowa

111.3%

9

Minnesota

113.3%

10

Ohio

114.0%

11

Purdue

114.8%

12

Indiana

141.2%

 

So that’s a lot of numbers, what does any of it mean?  Let’s start with the offense.  In conventional stats, Michigan is ranked 5th in yards per game and 3rd in points per game.  However, given our low tempo we move up to 1st in yards per possession and 2nd in points per possession.  So despite our offensive line troubles we have been very efficient in our offense.  We managed to avoid both the best and the worst teams in YPP defense, but relative to the strength of the defenses we have faced we have the 3rd most efficient offense.  However, if you throw out the Nebraska game (which hopefully is because it is a non-repeatable event given that would mean both Denard and Devin go down), we shoot up to number 1 by a long way.  I don’t like to throw out only one extreme, so if you throw out the best performance against Iowa’s impersonation of air we drop right back to 3rd.

 

How about the defense?  By the conventional measures Michigan has the best defense in the Big Ten.  However, once we adjust for our slow tempo, we find that the defense drops to 5th.   We love our defense how is that possible?  I think there are a couple potential explanations: 1) Throw-God Trevor Simien and the elusive Colter -- Northwestern was Michigan’s worst performance of the year.   2) Michigan always seems to have one or 2 bad drives per game regardless of how bad the offense is (Illinois need not apply).  MSU, Iowa, Minnesota all had 2 long scoring drives where it was completely out of character for both them and us. And since they are so bad offensively that bad drive is enough to put them above their average.  In other words, Michigan has yet to put together a full game defensively. 

 

What about the game this weekend?  We already talked about what Michigan needs to do – Remain efficient on offense and play a full 60 minutes (or more) on defense.  Ohio has an extremely efficient offense, and their defense is very solid on a yardage basis.  However, Ohio gives up a lot of points despite their good yardage defense.  I believe this is largely a reflection of their turnover margin and I think they have had 2 punts blocked in Big Ten play.  As in every big game ever Turnovers will be important. 

 

Other interesting notes – Nebraska has a much better defense than people here have given them credit for.  Ucla was more the aberration than the rule.  Northwestern may be really close to being 11-0, but they are also getting outgained by their competition which could be an indicator that they could be close to .500 for the season.  [Though how many of those yards came in the 4th quarter?]




[1] Kenpom.com 2012 stats

Comments

biakabutuka ex…

November 20th, 2012 at 2:39 PM ^

Good post. Thanks for doing this.

Something I've wondered recently is whether one can rank the quality of teams by percent of time that they've held a lead in their games. My theory goes that teams will always do whatever it takes to get the lead, but might have different philosophies once they get it (grind out the clock, wear out the opponent, score all the points, even put in backups to get them reps). It would also more properly rate the quality of wins like our Northwestern game vs. our Iowa game. Or maybe I should ask Mathlete this.