B1G Bad Passing

Submitted by ScottGoBlue on October 16th, 2012 at 4:18 AM

B1G is bad at passing thus far this year (national rank):

  • Indiana:  313.0 yd/g   (15th)
  • Penn State:  251.8 yd/g   (47th)
  • Michigan State:  236.3 yd/g   (59th)
  • Purdue:  221.5 yd/g   (70th)
  • Nebraska:  215.3 yd/g   (77th)
  • Minnesota:  209.2 yd/g   (84th)
  • Wisconsin:  192.9 yd/g   (100th)
  • Iowa:  189.0 yd/g   (102nd)
  • Ohio:  188.9 yd/g   (103rd)
  • Illinois:  186.1 yd/g   (106th)
  • Michigan:  186.0 yd/g   (107th)
  • Northwestern:  179.4 yd/g   (111th)

Source: ESPN.com


Michael From TC

October 16th, 2012 at 5:24 AM ^

B1G good at rushing:

Nebraska 292.0  5th
Ohio 263.6  8th
Michigan 232.5  16th
Northwestern 228.4  18th
Wisconsin 181.1  48th
Minnesota 165.8  62nd
Purdue 165.0  64th
Indiana 160.0  73rd  (15th passing)
Iowa 154.7  76th
Michigan State 144.0  86th (59th passing)
Penn State 138.3  90th  (47th passing)
Illinois 123.4  98th


Iowa, Illinois, and Purdue are just bad.

MSU having such a horrible rushing game is a bit of a shocker.


October 16th, 2012 at 5:34 AM ^

I think we have just enough data to conclude that the Big Ten is, at best, mediocre at offense. (Yes, I suppose they could just be good at defense.) There are only five units (one passing, four running) with impressive rankings. I see a lot of bottom feeders.


October 16th, 2012 at 8:18 AM ^

It should be noted that, despite the somewhat anemic passing and rushing totals in the Big Ten overall, it does have six teams which average over thirty points per game in scoring offense (Nebraska, Indiana, OHIO, Michigan, Purdue and Northwestern), which is good for the upper half of FBS competition as a whole. Moreover, five of those same teams average over 400 yards of offense per game right now as well. Granted, this is after six or seven games, depending on the team in question, but the year-over-year comparison will be intriguing.

Last year, only Northwestern, Michigan State, Iowa and Wisconsin were in the upper half of the FBS in passing offense at the end of the season, but only Michigan State and Iowa were in the bottom half of the rushing offense totals, with all other Big Ten teams finishing in a range from 11th (Wisconsin) to 56th (Minnesota).


October 16th, 2012 at 8:41 AM ^

We'll have to wait for the bowl games to see how things stack up but this is probably the worst that I've ever seen the B1G top to bottom in my 20+ years of following the sport.


October 16th, 2012 at 9:29 AM ^

Admittedly, my eyeballs are telling me this isn't a great year for the B1G and the OOC results weren't good, but I'm not sure this metric says anything one way or the other. How is the absence of WVU/Baylor-style gunslinging evidence that the league is good or bad?

FWIW, Michigan's only been in the top half of the country in this statistic once since 2005 (32nd in 2010). I don't think that meant Chad Henne couldn't throw. To a large extent, teams choose where they're going to land here. It's maybe 25% skill and 75% choice of scheme.


Magnum P.I.

October 16th, 2012 at 10:28 AM ^

Using total passing yards doesn't tell the whole story. For example, Maxwell is close to the top ten nationally is passing attempts per game with like 45. His completion rate is pretty bad, though, and I don't think anyone would call him one of the better passers in the conference.

One Inch Woody…

October 16th, 2012 at 11:21 AM ^

Low passing numbers DOES NOT mean bad passing offense. Low passing numbers can mean a lot of things: 1.) you don't attempt a lot of passes 2.) you have a downfield passing game as opposed to a horizontal passing game 3.) you run to set up the pass 4.) you run a balanced offense (not a passing spread).

Instead, look at YPA ... that is a much much much much better indicator of how a passing offense is doing, since it takes into account how effective the pass/run combo is. If your running game is really effective, there's no reason to stop and start passing the ball a lot to get yardage. Instead, your passing plays will be big plays instead of bread-and-butter plays.

Big 10:

1.) Michigan (Downfield, *.8) (19th overall) - 8.4 YPA (6.72)
2.) Nebraska (Run-Based, *1) (23rd overall) - 8.3 YPA (8.3)
3.) Ohio State (Run-Based, *1) (33rd overall) - 7.8 YPA (7.8)
4.) Wisconsin (Downfield, *.8) (34th overall) - 7.8 YPA  (6.24)
5.) Minnesota (Run-Based, *1) (56th overall) - 7.4 YPA  (7.4)
6.) Indiana (Passing Spread, *1.2) (81st overall) - 6.7 YPA (8.04)
7.) Penn State (Passing Spread, *1.2) (87th overall) - 6.6 YPA (7.92)
8.) Michigan State (Downfield, *.8) (100th overall) - 6.3 YPA (5.04)
9.) Northwestern (Run-Based, *1) (108th overall) - 5.9 YPA (5.9)
10.) Purdue (Passing Spread, *1.2) (116th overall) - 5.6 YPA (6.72)
11.) Iowa (Downfield, *.8) (117th overall) - 5.4 YPA (4.32)
12.) Illinois (Run-Based, *1) (120th overall) - 5.4 YPA (5.4)

1.) Nebraska (No. 41 overall in YPC)
2.) Indiana
3.) Penn State
4.) Ohio State (No. 31 overall in YPC)
5.) Minnesota (No. 26 overall in YPC)
6.) Michigan (No. 5 overall in YPC)
7.) Purdue
8.) Wisconsin (No. 18 overall in YPC)
9.) Northwestern
10.) Illinois
11.) Michigan State
12.) Iowa

Not surprisingly, teams like Indiana and Penn State, with high-powered passing offenses find themselves at the top, while teams like Michigan State and Iowa who have been absolutely atrocious at passing are at the bottom.

Another thing to keep in mind is the overall pass defense of the league. The league is filled with good-to-great defensive backs (not really any elite ones) such as JT Floyd (good), Johnny Adams (great), Ibrahim Campbell (good), Terry Hawthorne, Josh Johnson, Ricardo Allen, etc. etc. Compare that to the Big 12 and it's a joke... the Big 12 can't play defense and that's why their horizontal passing games turn into big yardage.

Oh, and just for reference: The SEC only has 4 teams in the top half of FBS in total passing yardage, but has 10 teams in the top half of FBS YPA ... now think to yourself - which statistic is the more telling one?


October 16th, 2012 at 4:43 PM ^

Maybe YPA is better than YPG on the whole, I definitely see what you're saying.  Total yards passing doesn't tell the whole story, especially in terms of efficiency.

On the other hand, the top YPA teams in the Big Ten have QBs who don't throw much because they're good at running and not great at throwing.  Your unweighted YPA 1-2-3 is Denard Robinson, Taylor Martinez, and Braxton Miller.  They are followed up by Wisconsin's duo of Danny O'Brien and Joel Stave, then Minnesota's duo of Marqueis Grey and Max Shortell.  I wouldn't consider any of those guys good passing QBs.

In each of their cases, it seems like they average a lot of yards per passing attempt because they don't throw very often, because they're really good at running (or their RB is) and not great at throwing.  Throwing is a known weakness, so you don't throw often, but when you do you have a higher level of efficiency.  See Denard Robinson before they Bye week and after, where his passing efficiency has gone up directly because he's throwing the ball less.  And why is he throwing the ball less?  Because he's still not a great passer, demonstrated by the Notre Dame interception bonanza.  So YPA doesn't seem to tell the full story either.

Also, it's interesting to see that the Big Ten features 6 teams at 100+ nationally in YPG and 5 teams at 100+ nationally in YPA.  So whichever metric you choose (probably a combination is best), the conference is not very good at throwing the ball.


October 16th, 2012 at 5:39 PM ^

I can't remember which site it was, but there was a site that was attempting to use Yards * Yards/Carry (Yards^2/Carry) as a statistic because it emphasized the overall output but still accounted for how long it took you to get there (which is what YPC is trying to do). I think that would be a valid statistic to use in this case. I just threw this together from ncaa.com numbers. It's actually Yards^2/Carry/Game, but it has Baylor, West Virginia, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma St. as the top 4, so it can't be too far off. As a side note, it's missing 4 teams, so I'm assuming they forgot to add in UMass and the other 3 teams that joined the FBS this year.

(Baylor is #1 overall with 4244 FWIW)

1) Indiana - 2161 (29th overall)
2) Nebraska - 1842 (53rd overall)
3) PSU - 1662 (68th overall)
4) Minnesota - 1630 (69th overall)
5) Michigan - 1561 (76th overall)
6) Wisconsin - 1550 (77th overall)
7) MSU - 1492 (82nd overall)
8) OSU - 1477 (83rd overall)
9) Purdue - 1361 (93rd overall)
10) Illinois - 1144 (104th overall)
11) Northwestern - 1103 (106th overall)
12) Iowa - 1099 (108th overall)

Now, let's do the same for rushing.

(Army is #1 with 2124, Air Force is #2 with 2102, FWIW)

1) Nebraska - 1801 (4th overall)
2) OSU - 1520 (8th overall)
3) Michigan - 1303 (16th overall)
4) Northwestern - 1170 (20th overall)
5) Wisconsin - 803 (52nd overall)
6) Indiana - 757 (55th overall)
7) Purdue - 745 (58th overall)
8) Iowa - 693 (69th overall)
9) Minnesota - 645 (77th overall)
10) MSU - 548 (85th overall)
11) PSU - 491 (91st overall)
12) Illinois - 418 (99th overall)

So, I think this shows that we are a running conference. 4 teams in the top 20. Basically, the best 3 teams in the conference are the best 3 in rushing. This also shows that Nebraska is going to be a very scary test for this defense in a week and a half.



October 17th, 2012 at 7:49 AM ^

Interesting metric, seems like a quality one. One thing people have said in other comments regards whether a team is in the top or bottom half of all FBS teams, and then valuing them either good or bad. A binary evaluation isn't as good here as a gradient one, IMO. Dividing all 124 FBS teams into thirds or quarters is better.

Taking quarters to your metric, the B1G passing has 1 Q1 team, 1 Q2 team, 7 Q3 teams, and 3 Q4 teams.

Rushing has 4 Q1 teams, 3 Q2 teams, 4 Q3 teams, and 1 Q4 team.

So, again, the B1G is below-average-to-bad at passing; average-to-above at rushing.