What The Future Holds: Is it possible that positive turnover margins in the next 3 games will help Michigan pull out victories? Yes. Is it probable? Uh, no and here's why.
If I have learned anything over the past several years of analyzing turnovers is that turnovers are primarily performance based and not just luck! Excellent teams tend to have large positive turnover margins, poor teams tend to have large negative turnover margins, and meh teams tend to have meh turnover margins. Right now the TOM is +4 and it looks like M will end the year with a meh TOM (+/- 4).
That said, M has been incredibly lucky this year and the likelihood that any lucky streak continues is extremely small. M currently has 14 fumble recoveries on a total of just 16 fumbles by the opposition. This is an 88% recovery rate when the average recovery rate is around 50%. In fact, M has forced only 10 fumbles – the opponents have flat out dropped the ball 6 times. In the last 2 games, there have been no fumbles (forced or non-forced) by the opponent – the only 2 games that M has not recovered at least 1 fumble. M has intercepted the ball just twice in the last 6 games. M has relatively inexperienced DBs and the potential that the interception rate (ranked #89 nationally) will improve is also not likely. Unfortunately, with the current offensive scheme, the likelihood that interceptions thrown by M will decrease in the next 3 games is not good.
Illinois is ranked #93 in turnovers lost and will be our best potential for a turnover margin in our favor. Nebraska is ranked #33 and osu #8 in turnovers lost. Turnover margins for the last two games are likely to be problematic.
Synopsis for Turnovers: For the first time this year, turnovers were a significant factor in Michigan losing the game. The situational analysis of the TOs resulted in a disadvantage of 6.03 expected points for Michigan. Although the game ended with M behind by 8 points, the score was close enough that I concluded the TOs were a significant factor in the loss. I used the same reasoning to conclude that TOs were a significant factor in the win against WMU.
For the year, Michigan has lost 16 TOs (ranked #63) but has gained 20 TOs (ranked #17) for a turnover margin of +4 or 0.44 per game (ranked #31). Michigan is ranked #4 in fumbles lost but is #109 in interceptions thrown. The 14 fumbles recovered is ranked #1 and is the reason the turnover margin is excellent instead of horrible.
DRob had another interception and lost his first fumble of the year. There remain 17 different defensive players that have either forced a fumble, recovered a fumble, or intercepted a pass.
(See the Section on Gory Details below for how the adjustment for Expected Points (EP) is calculated.)
National Rankings: Remember the chart and table below includes the WMU game and will NOT be the same as the (incorrect) NCAA Rankings.
The Gory Details
Details for Turnovers: Here is overall summary for all games by player (data in yellow was affected by this week's game).
Expected Point (EP) Analysis: Basically, the probability of scoring depends on the line of scrimmage for the offense. Therefore, the impact of a TO also depends on the yard line where the TO is lost and the yard line where the TO is gained. Each turnover may result in an immediate lost opportunity for the team committing the TO and a potential gain in field position by the opponent. Both of these components can vary dramatically based upon the down when the TO occurred, the yards the TO is returned, and whether the TO was a fumble or an interception.
Here are the details for the game.
The analysis is a bit tricky because: (A) the TO may directly result in lost EP for the offense but (B) only modifies the EP for the team gaining the TO because the team gaining the TO would have gotten another possession even without the TO (due to a punt, KO after a TD, KO after a field goal, etc.). The Net EP Gain must take into account the potential EP gain without the TO. The EP gain without the turnover is based on where the field position would have been for the next possession if the TO had not occurred.
The expected point calculations are based on data from Brian Fremeau at BCFToys (he also posts at Football Outsiders). Fremeau's data reflects all offensive possessions played in 2007-2010 FBS vs. FBS games. I "smoothed" the actual data.
Here is a summary of the smoothed expected points.