PFF article on OSU - UM matchup

Submitted by Indonacious on November 21st, 2018 at 12:23 PM

couple tidbits:

“Most relevant to The Game, the Michigan defense has given up just 617 yards after the catch, the fewest in the entire nation, at a rate of only 2.2 YAC per attempt (fourth).”

“Ohio State’s wide receiver unit averages a Big Ten-low 9.5 average depth of target (121st). They are racking up massive production on short throws that they turn into chunk gains.”




November 21st, 2018 at 12:31 PM ^

Good bits to consider together. They will make some catches--heck, they will score some points. But I think the D could surprise in holding them to fewer points than many think.

Everything--to me--seems to come down to Shea Patterson having a calm day at QB. Doesn't need to be God out there but just take care of business. 


November 21st, 2018 at 12:46 PM ^

Yes, it will come down to our offense. 

I hope to hell we don't just go into a shell for two quarters while we figure things out.  

This won't be Northwestern again.  We are not winning this game 20 - 17.

The whole "body blow" concept where we run for a couple of yards over and over without scoring so that they'll be worn down in the 4th quarter scares me.  Ohio State may not cooperate.  They may actually decide to score TDs in the first half while we are fucking around. 

We have played some piss-poor offenses that have let us get away with this.  But If we are wasting possessions against Ohio State, we'll get beat.

Durham Blue

November 22nd, 2018 at 11:10 PM ^

I think we'll get the balls to the wall version of the offense that we really haven't seen all season.  Most games our defense has set up short fields which we've used to continue our conservative leaned offense with a few play action bombs for 30 or 40 yards that have turned into TD's.  This Saturday will be a coming out party for Shea and the WR's.  Bombs away.  And OSU won't be able to do much about it.


November 21st, 2018 at 1:29 PM ^

I hear what you are saying, but Harbaugh does want to possess the ball and keep OSU's offense off the field, too.  They can't score if they don't have the ball.

If the OSU D plays like they did at Maryland, we won't be delivering body blows.  Their D will escort Higdon and Evans through the B and C gaps as they sprint for the end zone.  I really don't want to turn this game into a track meet because we score to quickly.  Fewer possessions and less time for OSU is a good thing.


November 21st, 2018 at 4:29 PM ^

Agree. I don't think I get my wish, especially since the D looked gassed in the fourth quarter last week. I think we have the offensive personnel to play a wide-open game, though, and I'm a little bit sad that we may not ever see some of these guys showcase their talent. For all that I also think Jimmy's approach is very sound.


November 21st, 2018 at 12:32 PM ^

They will certainly hit some big plays, they will score some points. The difference this year, our offense can keep up and actually surpass them. We should be able to run the ball effectively early on with Higdon/Shea to set up some deep shots to Gentry, Collins, DPJ and Black later in the game.

I'm so fucking pumped!



November 21st, 2018 at 12:35 PM ^

I like this article in that it confirms what I want to hear.

Oddly, I think my biggest concern is OSU running the ball. I know they haven't done well with running most of the year, but if we have a weakness on the D, it may be at the DT position, which has been partly been covered up by Chase's mobility and able to close down holes from the DE position (get well Chase!). If Haskins runs a bit more, opening up runs between the tackles, and OSU can stay on the field with sustained drives (as Wiscy could have done running the ball, had they not demurred), it undercuts our strategy of dominating TOP, wearing down the opponent's D, and keeping our D fresh.

Ghost of Fritz…

November 21st, 2018 at 2:24 PM ^

I also think OSU will try to get enough yards running to keep Michigan's D honest.  They have been trying to develop more running in the last two games.  And IU perhaps showed some rushing plays that worked against Michigan. 

OSU is a different kind of offense than M has faced all year.  We do not really know how this D will do against a very accurate mostly short passing O that aims to get substantial yards after catch. 

It very well could be a game where the D faces 75+ snaps, when in most games the D has been so good at getting opponents off the field that is has been in the 50s or low 60s. 

Not sure it will be a shoot out.  But it very well could be a shoot out.  So I hope JH and Brown have thought about how to play in that sort of situation. 


November 21st, 2018 at 6:07 PM ^

Our perceived weakness on defense is by design.  You can't be a press-man type defense and really expect to be a dominating run defense.  Our personnel is just that good to be very sound against the run against mainly weaker competition.  Our defense is built to challenge QBs to make throws in small windows.  Our efficiency will be completely on the defenses ability to rush the passer, and gap discipline.  If our guys up front don't stay disciplined our over agressiveness will be our downfall.  

A lot of this game will come down to keys, and gambles.  When we expect them to run, will our keys keep us prepared, and in the right defensive calls to combat it, and not get gashed by an extremely capable stable of backs?  When we expect them to pass will our guys be keying the proper things to keep us in favorable play calls, and not lose contain to a very capable QB?  

1 on 1s, our guys vs. their guys.  Its what you play the game for.  Impose your game plan on the other guy, prove you are better.  We haven't lost 1 on 1s since the ND game in the 1st half.  This game is man up time, it is time to prove you are better.  

Go Blue

Ghost of Fritz…

November 22nd, 2018 at 8:36 PM ^

Good point on how D.Brown's scheme by design won't be totally dominant in minimizing run yardage.

And then maybe M not having DTs that all by themselves can disrupt and dominate kind of adds to that.

At the same time, M has been really good at run stopping this year anyway, at least overall.

I choose to believe the 'lots of guys had the flu' theory for the IU game.


November 21st, 2018 at 12:36 PM ^

This year we have been playing more zone than the past couple, and i'm thinking this game may be the reason why.  They burned us on crossing patterns last year, and dropping a linebacker or two into those short zones can combat those routes.  Although we didn't seem to have it figured out against Indiana, I'm hoping we were just keeping the solution hidden so that OSU wouldn't have a week to plan for it. 

Also will be interesting to see what kind of matchups they try to set up and how we handle those.  


November 21st, 2018 at 12:44 PM ^

Good stuff. I think if we can get to Haskins with minimal blitzing by Bush and Hudson, they can stay in coverage over the middle. If Haskins reads those blitzes and can check out of the play in time or hits the hot read in the slant, we may see big gains from Campbell and Hill. But our blitzes have been terrific and I wouldn't be surprised to see some twists and new disguises on our blitz packages from Don Brown.


November 21st, 2018 at 6:11 PM ^

I think the twists, and stunts will be a necessity against a QB like this with capable legs.  Pushing the pocket from the middle can really wreak havoc on a QB's progressions/decision making as well, especially a guy that isn't exactly a true dual threat type like Shea.  Shea relishes in being on the move, and throwing on the run.  

Reggie Dunlop

November 21st, 2018 at 12:44 PM ^

More numbers:

So I was digging through S&P+ on company time, er-- I was working?  Whatever, here's a logical grouping of those numbers and what they mean relative to us.


OSU is the #5 offense according to S&P+. We all know that by now. They've played 2 really bad defenses, Oregon State (#129) and Rutgers (#95) who rank in the bottom quartile of FBS defenses. They predictably lit them up for 77 & 52 points respectively.

They've played a bunch of middling defenses. Tulane, Indiana, Minnesota, Purdue, Nebraska & Maryland all rank between #44 & #75.  OSU scored 49, 49, 30, 20, 36 & 45 against those teams in regulation. 

They put 40 on the #27 defense of TCU, which is an outlier of sorts and somewhat impressive.

And the Buckeyes scored 27 & 26 against PSU & MSU's #12 & #4 defenses.

Michigan's the best defense they will have faced all year at #2. 


On the other side of the ball, OSU's defense has held three teams to single-digit outputs: Rutgers (3), Tulane (6) & MSU (6). Those 3 offenses are #127, #110 & #114 according to S&P+. Bad offense = no points.

They also have a large below-average group of competition: Oregon State, TCU, Indiana, Minnesota & Maryland all rank in a range between #71 & #98, and they scored 31, 28, 26, 14 & 45 against OSU. Pretty good scores for relatively bad offenses.

The next step up is Penn State and Nebraska at #46 & #43. They scored 26 & 31. Similar results despite the step up ranking-wise from the last group.

The best offense OSU has played this year, by far, is #17 Purdue and they scored 49 points.

Michigan will be the 2nd best offense they have seen all year ranked #23 in S&P+


Based on all of that, I'd have to expect to hold them under 30 points as PSU & MSU did. With any kind of ball control success and a Don Brown gameplan, I'll give them 28 points, which feels a little generous and would still be the most anybody's scored against Michigan this season.

On the other side, I'd expect to push 40. Much worse offenses than ours have racked up scores into the high twenties and thirties (and Maryland hit 45).

60% of the time, the numbers never lie. I'll say 38-28 for the good guys.


November 21st, 2018 at 1:48 PM ^

Nice analysis, and much appreciated! Here’s what I’d like to find out: The numbers don’t lie as to what’s happened in past games, but exactly how predictive are they for future games? I wonder if there’s an analysis showing the margin of error? As someone put it on FiveThirtyEight, if there’s a 14% chance the plane you’re planning to take will crash, how likely are you to board the flight?

Seems also that I’ve not yet seen stats re: how teams react to turnover opportunities, as opposed to things like total number of INTs or fumble recoveries. Is there a study of which teams turn opportunities like that into so-called lucky breaks? I’m thinking that a “capitalizing on opportunities ratio” might be fun to know. It might be an explanation of why certain teams sometimes pull wins out of a hat when they shouldn’t really have much of a chance based on other stats.

Michigan has not played as well away from home as they have at home; ND, MSU, Rutgers and Northwestern are examples. How’s Michigan’s statistical record away from home versus the statistical record at home, and by that I mean, more than scoring. How about performance in adverse weather conditions, as we saw at MSU and against Indiana, vs good weather?

I have no experience with statistical analysis, and am not equipped to do the hard stuff it entails. I just wonder how much info’s really available.


Reggie Dunlop

November 21st, 2018 at 2:08 PM ^

Good and relevant questions, and I don't have anywhere near the education nor the time to pull any of that off. :-)  I can say that I did the same thing in reverse as if I were OSU looking at Michigan's season.

Michigan's offensive output has been pretty much in tune with the ranking of the opposing defense (I'm not going to type it all out - just trust me) and my guess above of 38 points holds up. Wisconsin's #40 defense is the closest to OSU's #38, and coincidentally, we scored exactly 38 points against the Badgers.

On the other hand, our defense has no rhyme or reason. 4 times we let up 20+ points and they were nowhere near the 4 best offenses we played. ND is #27, SMU #97, Maryland #83 & Indiana #81. Next was Northwestern's 17 points at #113.  The best offense we played was Wisconsin (#12) and allowed 13 points, though I can't see how results of UW's run-only attack tell us anything about Haskins and OSU.

If I were doing this as a Buckeye, I'd expect Michigan to score in the 30s and I'd have absolutely no idea what to expect of Haskins vs. the Michigan Defense. I suppose that's where we put down our calculators and trust Don Brown.


November 21st, 2018 at 6:29 PM ^

Thanks, it’s interesting stuff. I was thinking the game would result in us scoring in the range of 35 to 40 points just having eyeballed a few OSU defensive performances. No one’s put up more than ND’s 24 points on us (if I’m recalling this correctly). I figure it’s unlikely OSU will do much better than ND. OSU’s performance against MSU’s defense is probably similar to how they’ll do against us, only our pass defense is a strength, so that might be generous.

Obviously you have more information than I do, but my guess was we win by double digits.


November 21st, 2018 at 12:48 PM ^

That is the key to the game. OSU will complete a bunch of passes. Preventing short throws from becoming chunk plays is the key to letting their offense score. That and DT play are the biggest questions on defense. 

Offense, as long as we don’t turn it over, I’m confident we can put up a decent number of points 

NY wolve Old Guy

November 21st, 2018 at 1:17 PM ^

As I recall, in 2016, before The Spot, which was 4th and 1, it was a long third down...maybe 3rd and 17.  And OSU then ran a screen pass or dink drop off that picked up all that yardage to make it 4th and 1 in first place. So, PFF projects history to repeat itself on that front.


November 21st, 2018 at 1:19 PM ^

I worry that Haskins will be throwing up a lot of jump balls looking for PI calls and that the OSU staff will work the refs from the get go for PI calls. 

I just hate waiting for the flags after every incompletion.


November 21st, 2018 at 2:30 PM ^

I'll be honest, I'm pretty scared of the quick slants or short throws that will go off for long plays. We have been really good up until now stopping them after the catch, but OSU's wr's are quite a bit more talented in terms of getting YAC. I think as long as we can stop them from picking up YAC on those short throws like we have all season, then the game is ours. 

B1GGY smalls

November 21st, 2018 at 4:49 PM ^

MORE IMPORTANTLY>>>>>>>>>I have 99 MGO points. WHo's going to be the hero who gives me the ultimate POSBANG? Get me to 100 points so I can post and vote? Who is my HERO?