In One Score Games Harbaugh is 5-8

Submitted by BBQJeff on September 5th, 2018 at 2:12 PM

That record pretty much speaks for itself.   Is it something systemic?   Bad luck?   Both?   During the same time period ('15 through the present) Dantonio's record in 1 score games is 12-5 and this record includes his 2016 nightmare season.  

What is it about Harbaugh's Michigan teams that they can't seem to win close games, especially if they are big games?   The only one of those 5 wins that could qualify as a big game was Wisconsin '16.  



September 5th, 2018 at 8:46 PM ^

The upvote/downvote totals only show the aggregate score, as opposed to showing the total up/total downvotes is quite possibly the worst way to represent the vote totals.

An issue that nobody cares about will show the same totals as an issue that EVERYONE is divided on.

I don't know who in the their right mind would program that way. 


September 5th, 2018 at 11:05 PM ^

Yeah I miss the green/red, up/down vote totals.

A score of "2" could mean that nobody really gave a rats ass . . . or it could mean that 50 people loved it and 48 people hated it. 

Having been on this blog a long time, the 50 upvote / 48 downvote thing actually happens a lot, especially after triggering events like last Saturday.


September 5th, 2018 at 2:19 PM ^

That’s not a big enough sample to say much.  Part of it is luck. Part of it is missing plays like the interception Hawkins couldn’t make last week, or the one Metellus couldn’t make against OSU. That’s partly player development and coaching.

A huge part of the consternation here is that, as Brian had mentioned, our good fortune and “make plays” moments over the past 10 years have come against Minnesota and Indiana, and not OSU and MSU.  That’s just the way of the universe, man. 


September 5th, 2018 at 4:48 PM ^

It's been a while since I took Stats. So I am not entirely sure what is - and is not - an appropriate sample size anymore. Moreover, I realize there's a lot of data missing here to make sort of insightful conclusion.

With that in mind, what strikes me as "interesting" is that nearly a whole season of Jim Harbaugh's short tenure here has involved one-score games. And - IMO - we have looked absolutely lost for whole chunks of those one-score games.

A few doozies that come to mind are 2016 Iowa, 2016 FSU, 2017 MSU, 2017 South Carolina, and 2018 ND. Interestingly, since the Iowa game, I just feel like something mentally snapped with this team. It's like we have lost our swagger...

In those games I identified above (which are really the "bright light" games), we looked unprepared and played like it.  


September 5th, 2018 at 6:26 PM ^

I don't think 1 out of 5 games being one-score is a huge number.  Many fewer than MSU, for example.

As to your second point, I just don't know what "looks lost" means.  When you watch a football game, does the losing team always "look absolutely lost" to you?  What is different about our games?  The games you mention as doozies are tough games against mostly good teams.

I agree that we're losing too much.  But the stuff you describe as "losing our swagger" is just the period of time we've been losing a lot.  Everyone agrees we've lost a lot since Iowa.  But I don't think it's had much to do with swagger.  We've been terrible at QB and OL since that time.  When you suck at those positions, you're going to lose a lot.  That's absolutely on Harbaugh, but it has nothing to do with swagger.


September 5th, 2018 at 3:09 PM ^

But this is college football. How many years worth of games would you consider to be a large enough sample size? 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?

Analysis and decisions need to be made with these "small sample sizes" because programs can't afford to let a coach accumulate 15+ years of bad results before they finally decide "oh wow, would you look at that sample size...I guess he really can't win big games"

The point here is this: Where do you draw the line? How many games is enough to draw a conclusion from?


September 5th, 2018 at 2:21 PM ^

Dumb stat. Dantonio gets credit for beating Utah State by one score while Harbaugh is dinged for many blowouts?

What is the target record in 1 score games for a near perfect coach? Win a lot of them and it would seem to indicate that you underachieve. Go 50-50 and maybe you aren't as good at making adjustments. 


September 5th, 2018 at 2:21 PM ^

To be clear, teams aren't "due" to decline and have a subpar record the following year; that's the gambler's fallacy. Teams with particularly good or bad marks during a year of one-score games are equally likely to be great or terrible in those games the following year. Our expectation is that they'll be average, which is what we call regression toward the mean.

On average, teams will go .500 in close games.  Dumb luck.


September 5th, 2018 at 2:22 PM ^

Kind of stretching your extrapolation here. I mean, yes, we did lose 24-17 but anyone watching that game can you tell you it felt much more like a safe 2-3 score lead by ND than anything. It was like the offense did not play with any urgency or emotion until let's say... 4 minutes left in the game.


September 5th, 2018 at 2:24 PM ^

Pretty small sample.  If Blake O'Neill handles the punt snap properly, then Harbaugh is just under .500, which you would ultimately expect him to be.  

To the extent this isn't random, I think there could be some correlation with QB play.  With Speight, freshman Peters and O'Korn, were you confident they could make the plays we needed down the stretch to grab the lead or hold on?  


September 5th, 2018 at 2:25 PM ^

Simple. MSU plays up to their competition and takes chances while we go into a shell and play conservative. They had no business beating Penn State last year, but there they were. 


September 5th, 2018 at 6:59 PM ^

"MSU plays up to their competition and takes chances.."


Watch MSU. They play DOWN to teams, not up to them.  Dantonio does not like high scores. He wants enough to get by and nothing more. 

If they played "up" to their competition, then explain the blowout against Notre Dame and OSU last year.  Explain how they played and lost to Northwestern TWO YEARS in a row! Explain how Bama goose-egged them in 2015, and how a horrible Nebraska team took them out that same year.  Explain their atrocious 3-9 season after TEN YEARS under Dantonio, who should be established enough for something like that to not happen (btw, if you notice, he also had a serious dropoff in 2012). 

Those are not the stats of a team that plays UP to their competition.


September 5th, 2018 at 8:24 PM ^

Your argument makes no sense. If they hadn't played up to their competition they wouldnt have been playing in that playoff game to begin with. MSU and Wisconsin should in theory not be competing with top ten teams, but they do anyway because they out play their recruiting rankings ever year (yeah I know they went 3-9 two years ago). 


September 5th, 2018 at 2:25 PM ^

Simple. MSU plays up to their competition and takes chances while we go into a shell and play conservative. They had no business beating Penn State last year, but there they were. 


September 5th, 2018 at 2:37 PM ^

"Luck" would be appropriate if it happened once.  As it is, it's a trend.  It becomes a trend by having great coaching and players believing that they will win.  It's happened so many times, that they have a built in confidence that when the going gets tough, they'll find a way to win.

It's simply something that we need to develop.  It needs to happen once, twice, and then all of a sudden you start developing an inherent belief.


September 5th, 2018 at 11:55 PM ^

How many of these one score games were with inferior opponents that had no business keeping the game within one score? I’m not sure that would correlate with great coaching. 

I totally agree that MSU believes they will win in tight games. I’d love for our team to start developing that belief by winning more of these tight games.


September 6th, 2018 at 8:09 PM ^

I remember when Michigan used to have that confidence — and anyone watching a close game late, with Lloyd on the sidelines, pretty much expected Michigan to win as inevitably as Darth Vader and the Empire taking over another plucky, rebellious star system.

Its been a while since I’ve had that sick sense of foreboding and resignation about Michigan.