Bill Connelly: "Michigan State was lucky as hell...they were lucky as hell last night"

Submitted by Bambi on October 15th, 2018 at 10:50 AM

The quote is from Bill C's podcast Podcast Ain't Played Nobody about MSU's win Saturday against PSU.

The quote is mostly related to MSU's turnover luck. Michigan State fumbled the ball 4 times and recovered them all. PSU had a potential pick on the game just dropped by a CB. According to Bill, when taking into account the amount of fumbles and batted balls PSU's defense had, MSU was expected to turn the ball over 5.5 times against PSU. They turned it over once. Each turnover is worth around 5 points, so turnover luck gained MSU around 20-21 points.

The following link is a Bill C post detailing a bunch of advanced stats box score numbers on all the games from this weekend (link). Some notables from the link:

  • Another Bill C quote on MSU: "the Spartans enjoyed about a 20- to 21-point boost thanks to turnovers luck... I swear, that happens every single time Sparty plays PSU, Michigan, or Ohio State, doesn’t it..."
  • MSU's post game win expectancy was 26%.
  • OSU's post game win expectancy was 66%.
  • Michigan's post game win expectancy was 86%.
  • Wisconsin had one of the best 5 points per scoring opportunity margins this week. Basically this means advanced numbers say Michigan should have scored more based on the amount of scoring opportunities we had but we didn't because we failed to finish drives. So not only were we not lucky, based on the numbers this game should have been an even bigger blowout.



October 15th, 2018 at 10:52 AM ^

As to the last point, I distinctly remember being uncomfortable in the first half because we were leaving points on the field (missed FGs/FG attempts rather than touchdowns).


October 15th, 2018 at 10:56 AM ^

Same, and yet Michigan was still on pace at the half (up 6) to cover a spread that many saw as overly generous going into the game (-10).  But yeah, it sure felt frustrating that the offense hadn't converted the opportunities into more points going into the second half.


October 15th, 2018 at 11:37 AM ^

So odd to think that we were on pace to cover.  How many times has the program been punished for not being perfect?  The margin for error has always felt like it was next to nothing.  And here, it always felt like Taylor could change the complexion of the game in a single play.  Still, credit to the coaches and the team for always making the right adjustments and clamping down on the competition.  



October 15th, 2018 at 10:56 AM ^

Bambi, everyone knows that you can't talk about MSU's luck!! You have to write on the internet that they are very good football team with elite talent, or else we will certainly lose to them, because of what we, the fans, wrote on the internet.

Mack Dynamite, you are a phenomenal coach, and Bryce Leinenkugel is the best QB in America, hands down.


October 15th, 2018 at 11:22 AM ^

Mork is a good coach who generally manages to get his teams to be mentally tough enough not to fold up until the end. That, not luck, got him his flukey win over Michigan in Harbaugh's first year.


He's also a complete asshole who would happily let his team rape their way through EL if it meant beating Michigan on the regular.   


October 15th, 2018 at 11:25 AM ^


Mork is a good coach who generally manages to get his teams to be mentally tough enough not to fold up until the end. That, not luck, got him his flukey win over Michigan in Harbaugh's first year.

I agree, but that's not mutually exclusive with luck. He coaches inferior talent up to keep games close so that they can come down to luck and not skill in the final minutes. Then his team relies on technique and mental toughness and hopes the other team fucks up. That's a cheap, but not awful strategy.


October 15th, 2018 at 11:31 AM ^

I agree. He's very lucky, but he also "makes his luck" in a couple additional ways

(1) Roids

(2) Playing dirty

(3) Recruiting any scumbag who can contribute

(4) Zero enforcement of social norms or rules for his players


Mork (and formerly Narduzzi) clearly coach dirty play and are happy to recruit dirty kids. That has somehow conditioned refs to allow them to play dirty without getting penalties at a normal rate. That's a huge amount of their luck.   


October 15th, 2018 at 5:51 PM ^

I know it's tongue in cheek, but is there any evidence that Mork employs 'roiding?  I'm not saying this to lecture anyone, I think they actually do it.  Their O-line went from looking completely inept and incapable against Northwestern to looking functional against Penn State.  Maybe Penn State's front is that much worse, but I think there's something sharp in the water at EL.


October 15th, 2018 at 11:33 AM ^

Idk. I mean I agree to an extent but that doesn’t mean luck isn’t at play too.

We have an all-American caliber punter drop his only snap of the entire season, and it was in a game defining moment. Everything went right for MSU on that play. That’s luck more than it is being mentally tough


October 15th, 2018 at 11:52 AM ^

Its not luck at all...  Dantonio is one of few coaches who are very aggressive after to go after the win, and do not coach scared.  His team also seems to understand that and plays as such. When they are down, I noticed his playcalls seem to correspond well to the situation.

Ask yourself what other coach would send all 11 after the punter.... and then notice how we didn't bother to adjust to that...


October 15th, 2018 at 12:17 PM ^

3 years later and people still say the same stupid shit about that punt . that was just pure bad luck!!! not bad coaching, not good coaching. all that had to happen was the punter handles the snap, which he had done hundreds of times with no issues. stop giving blame and credit where it doesn't belong. msu never came close to blocking that punt without the mishandled snap.


October 15th, 2018 at 12:24 PM ^

Man, nobody can do nuance around here.

Dantonio was no coaching savant to put all 11 at the line.   Some may have put a return man deep and hoped for a miracle return but stacking the line was probably the more conventional choice in that specific circumstance.

Harbaugh was not some idiot coach for playing it the way that he did and punting the ball, but not having a punt-safe package in the game and failing to take a delay of game to bring the gunners in to block after seeing how unbalanced the situation on the line was were both coaching mistakes.



October 15th, 2018 at 1:30 PM ^

He had 10 on the LOS and one guy on the right a few yards off.

Michigan sent gunners on the left and the right. The Spartan on the right took off with Michigan's gunner, so 10 Spartans comprised the punt block.

Most of the heavy pass rush came from unblocked Spartans on the left. Compounding the ST fuckups, the three guys right in front of O'Neill moved to the right after the snap, which left O'Neill at the mercy of the Spartans flooding in unblocked from the left.

Obviously the dropped snap was the cause of the disaster, but it was compounded by idiotic ST coaching. Would have Sparty been able to pick up the fumbled snap and return it for a TD if we'd been in max protect? Perhaps, but it certainly would have been less likely.

Beilein 4 Life

October 15th, 2018 at 4:22 PM ^

Sparty picked up the fumbled snap because O’Neil threw it to them, not because we didn’t have more blockers there. Us being in max protect only changes the outcome if O’Neil somehow falls on the ball instead of throwing it to them. There is quite literally no evidence to think if we had max protect, that game would have ended differently 


October 15th, 2018 at 11:55 AM ^

That's the thing, his teams always stay engaged and putting in effort all the way through the end, so they take advantage of opportunities given to them.  Yes, there's luck, but there's also being a position to take advantage of it, which Michigan State always is.  May as well give the devil his due.


October 15th, 2018 at 12:03 PM ^

Most definitely some luck on that play. Even with the botched snap, if the kicker just falls on it...kicks it out...ball rolls on ground etc game is likely over. The odds for the ball to be botched, tried to be punted and fell in a defensive players hands in stride was some luck. You cannot coach that. You can coach your players to play hard to the end, but you cannot coach where the ball is going to go off a spinning punter.


October 15th, 2018 at 12:20 PM ^

You can coach your players to play hard to the end, but you cannot coach where the ball is going to go off a spinning punter.

Precisely.  (Also, don't forget the massive officiating malpractice from that game).

When you walk past a roulette table, you'll see that there is a video display showing results of the last few spins.  Any rational person would look at that and think, "if this information were relevant, the casino wouldn't call attention to it."  However, it works -- people will look at that and try to make a determination about whether or not a given number or color is "hot" or "cold," or if some particular result is "due."

Those of you discounting the role of luck in MSU victories -- that's you.  "Grit," "hard work," "wanting it more" -- those are all the same narratives as the "hot" or "cold" roulette wheel.  The whole point of these box scores is to try to quantify the luck factor -- in this case, of all games played like the MSU/PSU one, MSU would be expected to win 1 in 4.  That's more than I expected going into the game, so, my hat's off to them for that -- but it indicates the extent to which they got lucky.


October 15th, 2018 at 12:13 PM ^

I think "mental toughness" is mostly nonsense.  But Dantonio is pretty good at game management - knowing whether to punt or go for it, knowing when to use timeouts, etc. - and that pays off going up against coaches like Franklin who are bad at it.  

At the same time he does seem to get oddly lucky against Michigan/OSU/PSU, as mentioned in the OP.  His bad luck seems to come against Northwestern.