This diary was inspired by the following tweet:
Under Hoke, U-M is 23-2 in games in which it is the favorite. U-M is 2-7 in games in which it is the underdog. (cc: @justcoverblog)
— Drew Hallett (@DrewCHallett) November 6, 2013
I decided to look a bit more closely at the data because this seemed so striking to me. [EDIT: Hallett is incorrect: I have UM 24-2 when favored, 1-7 when not. This makes it even more striking!].
First, I compiled a spreadsheet of all results in the Hoke era, which looked like this:
|Year||Date||Opponent||Location||Result||UM score||Opponent score||Line||Cover?|
(The lines were taken from MGoBlog game previews.)
Results are fairly interesting. First, the losses:
- All losses (9) were away or on neutral fields. (We know this because Hoke is undefeated at home, but still worth restating, I think).
- All losses, with two exceptions, were in games where Michigan was the underdog. Those exceptions were, of course, at Penn State (2013) and at Iowa (2011).
- When Michigan loses, it doesn't cover the point spread, with one exception: the Outback Bowl vs. South Carolina. Of course this is partly a function of the fact that when Michigan is an underdog, it is only a slight underdog (average +5.125, compared to an average of -14.6 when we are favored).
Second, the wins:
- We are undefeated at Michigan Stadium in the Hoke era.
- We have five away wins (out of 25 wins total). In three of those games, we were favored by more than a touchdown (@UConn 2013, @Minny 2012, @NW 2011). In two, we were favored by a FG or less and we blew the other team out (@Purdue 2012, @Illinois 2011). (Note: we were only favored by 1 @ Illinois in 2011. I double-checked this and it's accurate).
- Hence, I think it's fair to say that we have not got a signature win in an opponent's stadium in the Hoke era.
- We have only one win in which we were the underdog: ND in 2011, a game that Brian descibed as "delirious because of the many improbable events stacked on each other" before adding that "Michigan has to fix some stuff—lots of stuff—by the Big Ten season."
- We have five wins in which we were favored by less than a touchdown: @Illinois 2011, @Purdue 2012, the 2012 Sugar Bowl, Nebraska 2011, and ND 2013. In all of those games we covered or pushed (the Sugar Bowl).
Third, the expectations. I looked at games where there was a big difference between the expectation (i.e., the gambling line) and the final score.
The biggest letdowns, where there was a two touchdown difference between the line and the final score, were:
- 2013 Akron at home. We were favored by 38 and won by 4, for a sads score of -34.
- 2013 MSU away. We were 6 point underdogs and lost by 23, for a sads score of -17.
- 2013 UConn away. We were 18 point favorites and won by 3, for a sads score of -15.
- Other letdowns (between -7 and -14) were: Alabama , Air Force , @Iowa , @Nebraska , @MSU , MSU ).
- The biggest happy victories, where the final score was two touchdowns or more than the gambling line, are Minnesota , @Purdue , Nebraska , Illinois , Central Michigan , and Illinois .
The big take-away for me is that this confirms the general impression that Michigan under Hoke wins the games that it should, generally speaking. That's good. On the other hand, we have only one win in which we were the underdog, and two losses in which we were favored, and we don't have a signature away win. I think that sample sizes are small and Hoke is still recovering from the RR era, etc., so this doesn't concern me much.
More concerning is the fact that the three worst letdowns (final score vs. point spread) all occurred this year. Two were wins against teams that Michigan should have destroyed, one was the Michigan State game. This is a reasonable explanation, I think, of the present malaise of Michigan fans.