Wins and losses in the Hoke era

Submitted by dnak438 on November 7th, 2013 at 9:19 AM

This diary was inspired by the following tweet:

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?
2011 3-Sep WMU Home W 34 10 -14 yes
2011 10-Sep ND Home W 35 31 3 yes
2011 17-Sep EMU Home W 31 3 -29.5 no
2011 24-Sep SDSU Home W 28 7 -9 yes
2011 1-Oct Minnesota Home W 58 0 -20 yes
2011 8-Oct Northwestern Away W 42 24 -7.5 yes
2011 15-Oct MSU Away L 14 28 2.5 no
2011 29-Oct Purdue Home W 36 14 -14 yes
2011 5-Nov Iowa Away L 16 24 -4 no
2011 12-Nov Illinois Away W 31 14 -1 yes
2011 19-Nov Nebraska Home W 45 17 -3.5 yes
2011 26-Nov Ohio State Home W 40 34 -7.5 no
2012 3-Jan Virginia Tech Neutral W 23 20 -3 no
2012 1-Sep Alabama Neutral L 14 41 13.5 no
2012 8-Sep Air Force Home W 34 25 -21.5 no
2012 15-Sep Umass Home W 63 13 -45.5 yes
2012 22-Sep ND Away L 6 13 5 no
2012 6-Oct Purdue Away W 44 13 -3 yes
2012 13-Oct Illinois Home W 45 0 -25 yes
2012 20-Oct MSU Home W 12 10 -9.5 no
2012 27-Oct Nebraska Away L 9 23 2 no
2012 3-Nov Minnesota Away W 35 13 -11.5 yes
2012 10-Nov Northwestern Home W 38 31 -9.5 no
2012 17-Nov Iowa Home W 42 17 -17 yes
2012 24-Nov Ohio State Away L 21 26 3.5 no
2013 1-Jan South Carolina Neutral L 28 33 5.5 yes
2013 31-Aug CMU Home W 59 9 -32 yes
2013 7-Sep ND Home W 41 30 -4 yes
2013 14-Sep Akron Home W 28 24 -38 no
2013 21-Sep Uconn Away W 24 21 -18 no
2013 5-Oct Minnesota Home W 42 13 -20 yes
2013 12-Oct Penn St Away L 40 43 -2.5 no
2013 19-Oct Indiana Home W 63 47 -9 yes
2013 2-Nov MSU Away L 6 29 6 no

(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 [2012], Air Force [2012], @Iowa [2011], @Nebraska [2012], @MSU [2011], MSU [2012]).
  • The biggest happy victories, where the final score was two touchdowns or more than the gambling line, are Minnesota [2011], @Purdue [2012], Nebraska [2011], Illinois [2012], Central Michigan [2013], and Illinois [2011].

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.



November 7th, 2013 at 9:29 AM ^

Good analysis, but your quote says we are 2-7 as underdogs, yet your article says we've only won a single game as an underdog?  I'm gonna go out on a limb and suggest that both of our underdog wins were against ND?


November 7th, 2013 at 9:46 AM ^

Here are the games where we are underdogs. We're 1-7, not 2-7, and 24-2 when we're favored to win.

Year Date Opponent Location Result UM score Opponent score Line
2012 1-Sep Alabama Neutral L 14 41 13.5
2013 2-Nov MSU Away L 6 29 6
2013 1-Jan South Carolina Neutral L 28 33 5.5
2012 22-Sep ND Away L 6 13 5
2012 24-Nov Ohio State Away L 21 26 3.5
2011 10-Sep ND Home W 35 31 3
2011 15-Oct MSU Away L 14 28 2.5
2012 27-Oct Nebraska Away L 9 23 2

Maybe he's using different lines?

EDIT: I double-checked and we were favored by 4 against ND this year. 


November 7th, 2013 at 9:54 AM ^

Depressing.  We have not won as a dog since game 2 of the Brady Hoke era, and that one took an outrageous confluence of lucky events.  Here's another depressing question: when was the last time we covered against OSU?  2003 we surely covered, but there's not many candidates since then.  Maybe 2006?  2009?


November 7th, 2013 at 10:07 AM ^

So that is why it is generally unexciting to watch Michigan football over the past few years.  We basically do what we are supposed to do.  We have underachieved a few times and rarely overachieved resulting in a big win.  Status quo pretty much. 

In some ways you could say that it is good to basically do what we are supposed to do except that as the season goes on the lines and expectations for each game adjust accordingly (ex. Michigan could have been the favorite last weekend heading to EL except they looked like crap in dissapointing wins and the PSU game). 


November 7th, 2013 at 11:46 AM ^

That is pretty striking, but it's tough to know what to make of this without knowing how other teams compare. Obviously, most teams will skew in similar directions; I just wonder how much.

Cranky Dave

November 7th, 2013 at 12:10 PM ^

I like to think I'm a realist but probably more of a pessimist by nature.  However, with Hoke winning virtually all of the games he's supposed to (even in a very weak B1G) while building up the supply of recruits I'm choosing to be optimistic.  If this doesn't improve next year I will be concerned about Hoke's ability to make the program nationally relevant.


November 7th, 2013 at 1:15 PM ^

With recruiting going the way it is, we should be favored in more and more games, which should lead to more wins. On the other hand, Michigan under Hoke will need to win big games, especially away from Michigan stadium, to put together a great season.


November 7th, 2013 at 1:53 PM ^

Possible.  But another take on it is that as we Ron Zook our talent (fail to demonstrate that we can do anything more with talent besides recruit it), then we should be favored in fewer and fewer games.


Cuts both ways.


But I think this line of logic is a little bit tail-wagging-doggish.


What I get from it is that we don't take chances.  We play basically straight up and hence there isn't a lot of variability from expected outcome, for better or for worse.  That philosophy serves us as long as our talent is superior (and that talent is trained appropriately of course).  So there is a logic to having a strategy of superior recruiting suppported by the tactics of conervative game management.


Provided the talent is developed.


November 7th, 2013 at 4:05 PM ^

I think last year skews this a little bit. Consider these 5 away games (fight amongst yourselves for road vs neutral).  We were in every game except Alabama.

Alabama 12-1  NC

ND          12-1  NC runner up

OSU       12-0

USC       11-2

NEB       11-3 


November 7th, 2013 at 6:27 PM ^

I am most concerned with the fact that three of our worst letdown happened this year AFTER the line has been adjusted! No way we wouldbe favoured by only 18 points against winless uconn if not for the Akron debacle. Similarly, the line of -2.5 is too low against a PSU team that just lost to Indiana. It is one thing to have a letdown. It is another thing to keep having letdowns after the line has been adjusted significantly.

Enjoy Life

November 8th, 2013 at 5:47 PM ^

A lot has to do with turnovers. Akron was -2 TOM, UConn was -3 TOM

2012: ND was -4 TOM, ohio was -2 TOM (both of those games were lost primarily due to TOs).

2011: Iowa was -2 TOM (another loss due to TOs). ND was +2 TOM (yeah, a win due to TOs).