Michigan is a 2nd half-team: By the numbers

Submitted by BlueLikeJazz on November 20th, 2018 at 9:51 AM

Anyone who has watched the team all year probably has a sense that the team is stronger in the second half of games. A robust analysis of this would look at yardage, yards per play, etc. but for a quick and dirty summary I looked at points scored and conceded in each half, and the numbers are interesting.

For the year, the team has outscored opponents 199-80 in the first half and 204-59 in the second. That's a fairly even split, but when you just look at the games that were competitive (or supposed to be)--ND, NW, Wisconsin, MSU, PSU, and IU--the splits are stark: 66-62 in the first half and 103-19(!) in the second half. 

19 second-half points allowed in 6 competitive games is truly impressive. Also, of the 59 points allowed in the 2nd half of all games, 28 or so were conceded in the 4th quarter of blowouts. (The sad touchdown/field goal is definitely a thing).

The team has owned the 3rd quarter of games, outscoring opponents 100-19. The team has not been outscored in the second half of any game.

It's pretty pretty nice to know, going into half time of a game, that the coaching staff is going to make adjustments and finish strong. 

Go Blue, fuck OSU.



November 20th, 2018 at 9:54 AM ^

Good analysis - thanks for taking the time to compile these numbers as I had been wondering just how stark the difference would be.

Yardage would also be an interesting indicator as you mentioned - particularly for the 3rd quarter...


November 20th, 2018 at 10:04 AM ^

Don Brown effect. He makes adjustments for the defense better than any coach I've ever seen.

I really want Harbaugh to give him a 1st half timeout he can use whenever he wants. I would love if he could call a timeout and make quick adjustments on the first scripted OSU drive rather than wait until they've potentially already scored...


November 20th, 2018 at 11:31 AM ^

Do you really think that if Don Brown said, “Jim, I’d like a timeout here to draw up an adjustment,” Jim would say no? :)

I mean, let’s be honest.  Clock management isn’t exactly Harbaugh’s best in-game coaching skill anyway.  He’s no Jimmy Franklin, mind you, but the two-minute drill hasn’t been Michigan’s forte since he arrived.  I doubt that extra timeout would make a difference. :)

Mike Damone

November 20th, 2018 at 10:12 AM ^

I think perhaps the biggest reason for this is that we are just hammering Higdon between the tackles at opponents all game long.  By the 2nd half, it just starts to wear on them, and they have to start committing more resources - ends, linebackers, safeties - to stop our run game.  And now we are open for more passes and Shea keepers.

The other teams defenses just don't look the same in the 2nd Half.  Jim Harbaugh is taking a page from Bo Schembechler on this one - drill them inside and wear the bastards down.

And we are doing the same to the Evil Empire on Saturday!

Go Blue!!!


November 20th, 2018 at 10:24 AM ^

They have been the stronger in the 2nd half than every opponent thus far. Much like every other game this season, as long as they are leading or close by halftime I think they can pull away down the stretch. 

Their position at halftime will be key because I think OSU is going to let it fly in this game and take multiple deep shots, attempting to throw haymakers.


November 20th, 2018 at 10:38 AM ^

You're forgetting the sad touchdown scored by PSU, so it's 26 second half points in the games you mention (19 in the third quarter). Your point remains, though, that Michigan is dominant in the second half.


November 20th, 2018 at 11:01 AM ^

This is particularly impressive given that there were garbage time touchdowns given up against Penn State, Maryland, and Wisconsin that I can think of.  That's 20 out of 59 points that were scored in the last few minutes of a blowout.  Also the MSU touchdown was hardly on the defense.  

We have basically blown out every team in the second half, including Notre Dame.  


November 20th, 2018 at 11:20 AM ^

The key in this one is to not be down 21-7 or 24-13 or something going into the half. 

If the team is in position like it was against Wisconsin/MSU/Penn State, where its close but they've outplayed their opposition and have a slight lead, I'll feel fine. If its a Notre Dame/Northwestern where there is a real deficit, it's going to be nervous second half, because I doubt Ohio State will be held to 3 or 0 points. 


November 20th, 2018 at 11:45 AM ^

OK, but what’s the over/under on second half Michigan punts if they’re trailing?  1.5?  OSU just gave up 38 offensive points in 60 minutes to Maryland, including a “They left him aloooneee” moment just before the end of regulation. If Maryland makes one more play there, they had a chance to win even prior to overtime.  Maryland had 3 second-half punts — all while leading — and Michigan has a better offense than Maryland does.

Here is a complete list of opponents against whom Maryland more than 35 offense points:

Bowling Green
Ohio State

That is all.

I don’t see much of an indication that OSU will be able to stop Michigan’s ground game.  (Maryland: 48 rushes for 339 yards, or 7.1 attempt, not sack-adjusted). If Michigan can stay even or better in the turnover battle, you have to like their chances.

If somehow Michigan were to be down 14 at halftime, and held OSU to 14 second half points, I’d still like their chances to be able to put up 28+ second half points if needed.  Patterson has shown he can throw on the run, the receivers have shown that they can get separation, and OSU has shown that they are prone to giving up passing plays (237 passing yards allowed per game).


November 20th, 2018 at 11:44 AM ^

Great post, but I think Michigan may adjust even sooner, or at least its offense does.  Michigan has outscored its opponents by just 61-45 in the first quarters of its games, with 41 of those points scored in two games.    


November 20th, 2018 at 12:39 PM ^

If you are going to score on Michigan's D, you had better do it in the first half... or during garbage time vs. the backups late in the 4th after your team has already been rolled and put to bed.