Probability of Negative Rushing Yardage for Final 5 Non Bowl Games of Year

Submitted by alum96 on November 10th, 2013 at 2:56 AM

I have become a bit immune to the mess that is on the field, as there are no quick solutions.  Whatever "fixes" people are throwing around, it is a 3 year project - if this is even the right staff to implement it.  So this leaves fun with records.

I was taken aback by the rush defense statistics Ace posted on the Nebraska recap

This was Nebraska coming into the game - they of the 85th rush defense in the country.

Opponent Att Yds TD YPC
Wyoming 30 219 1 7.3
UCLA 50 216 2 4.3
South Dakota State 33 271 2 8.2
Illinois 45 211 2 4.7
Purdue 20 82 0 4.1
Minnesota 53 272 3 5.1
Northwestern 43 283 3 6.6

Today we had 36 rushes for -21 yards inclusive of sacks and sailed center / QB exchanges.  With sacks removed, Ace noted UM rushed 22x for 29 yards.  (insert "an improvement over the PSU game!" cheer here)   That is staggering when you compare it to the data points above.   To put in perspective Green: 8 carries for 11 yards, Fitz: 9 carries for 6 yards.  Funchess the superstar RB, had 1 carry for 5 yards to boost our average.

Michigan has now rushed in consecutive games for negative yards.  Looking ahead, the potential exists for 5 in a row.  The only realistic hope for not 5 in a row is next week @ NW.

Rushing defenses in this 5 game span:

  • #1 MSU
  • #4 OSU
  • #32 Iowa
  • #71 NW
  • #85 Neb

I am marrying with this "team tackles for loss" which would indicate big play ability to create chunky losses.  This is one area Nebraska surprisngly shines despite a very average defense.  But so does NW. Iowa on the other hand lacks that big playmaking ability (until they play UM's offense of course - /drink)

  • #29 MSU
  • #30 Neb
  • #45 NW
  • #59 OSU
  • #101 Iowa

Last we will include sacks as this is what the NCAA official running stats include.  Nebraska surprisngly efficient here as well with 2.9 a game, pre UM game.  MSU is 2.8 inclusive of the 7 UM gave them.  Iowa again lags here - they are just a stout discplined run defense, which in some ways makes their #32 ranking more impressive as they do not benefit from splash plays.

  • #18 OSU
  • #21 Neb
  • #26 MSU
  • #51 NW
  • #84 Iowa

I could not control for Glasgow throws over Gardner's head as the data pool is too small.  I will assume 1 for -7 yards each game in our remaining 3.  Married to an average of 5 sacks from NW and Iowa (a statistical improvement over Nebraska performance) for say 35 yards total loss this would require +42 yards of positive rushing yardage to hit break even. +43 to avoid infamy.  Are you feeling lucky, punk?  (A similar OSU analysis was discontinued due to tears of OP)

So the takeaway here is Iowa run defense will pound us in unsexy fashion - many -2 yards and a cloud of dust.  However one can expect their sacks and TFL to jump dramatically in the game as we just saw with Neb and MSU.  NW might allow us some positive chunk yards on rush chunk I mean >1.25 yards but <1.75 yards...mixed with our assorted -2 loss plays.  NW  makes big splash plays and comes in with a slightly more stout rush defense than Nebraska.  As for OSU... ummm.... yeah.

I like our chances here to set some dubious NCAA record of 5 games in a row with negative rushing yards.   We should know in a week as it appears to be Northwestern or bust with Iowa and OSU being fait accompli.  I say if you are going to do something awful, do it big - none of this 3 of the last 5 games being held to negative yards.  Go full monty.... and let's do it again in the bowl game after 15 more practices to work on "execution".



November 10th, 2013 at 3:12 AM ^

They're pretty decimated by injuries and demoralized.  Borges has one more clever game plan up his sleeve that may be just enough to get past the Wildcats.  They are our only hope, however.


Iowa's offense isn't great, but the defense overall seems pretty stout.  I don't expect anything good happening from our offense.  If we win, it will be due turnover gifts from Iowa and plays by our defense.


OSU is going to be a disaster, and there's nothing we can do about it.  Just lay back and think of the Queen.


November 10th, 2013 at 3:26 AM ^

Our offense will not beat Iowa, and we're likely to lose. There is a faint chance of winning if Iowa's own offense melts down and the defense plays a remarkable game.  That seems unlikely, but it's maybe 25% shot.


We could get +ground yardage on Northwestern and still lose.  They've bee schizophrenic and if the right team takes the field we're in trouble.  Closer to 50/50 with them.


OSU is beyond any hope.  We'l be lucky to stay within fifty.

Alf Urkel

November 10th, 2013 at 3:17 AM ^

You can talk about regression and coaching and putting players in a position to succeed and execution and youth and talent and whatever, but ... wait, I guess that's everything then, isn't it?  

Is there one magical answer that will solve everything?  Obviously not, and I know it's been said before, so I'm just continuing to say the same thing everybody has already said.  Whatever is going on is a combination of multiple factors that have added together to create a sum of shit.  We probably won't truly know what's going on until someone gets fired or the team starts improving or something else.  All I'm saying is that the team is pretty bad right now.  Sometimes, teams are bad, and sometimes, they get better, and sometimes, people get fired.    Not a groundbreaking opinion, I know.  And I'm contributing nothing to the conversation.  Am I being original?  No.  Am I being creative?  No.  So what is the point of me posting this?  There is no point.  This is worst post ever, and I accept that.


November 10th, 2013 at 3:31 AM ^

No worries.  I had those same discussions in my head a few weeks ago.  You are just earlier in the 5 stages of grief.

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

I am on stage 5...proud of it.  It is how I accepted the Lions futility circa year 3 of Matt Millen.  It became humorous for  few years in fact once your emotions are segregated.  Now the Lions are fun to watch again so I can gingerly re-attach my emotions to them knowing ...they are still the Lions.

 It will be more difficult with UM being an alum myself, and knowing their proud history was much more recent than the 1950s (like the Lions) so I will busy myself with numbers and stats to distract my thoughts.   Most here are still in stage 2 while others have moved on to stage 3.  Sadly I still see a few stage 1s, knowing their full recovery is months behind the others.  After OSU I expect stage 4 to engulf MGoBlog.  And many will rebound right back to stage 1 after we win another February championship on signing day.  Tsk tsk. :)

Alf Urkel

November 10th, 2013 at 5:10 AM ^

I'm in stage 5.  I went to bed last night chuckling to myself about knowing I would wake up to see Michigan had lost.  Then I had a brief fantasy that Michigan set an FBS record with over 1000 yards of total offense,  And then I entered NREM stage 1.  Then I woke up and saw Michigan had lost.  


November 10th, 2013 at 6:55 AM ^

I'm onto stage 6 - fighting back. The ONLY bullet I've got to fire as a fan I'm about to pull the trigger on. Not renewing season tickets-if enough alumni do it an do it with a letter to Brandon telling him why - then we just might get his attention.

It's a long-shot but it's all I've got at this point.


November 10th, 2013 at 10:03 AM ^

My family has had season tickets in that stadium since 1956.  I decided after ND that I was not renewing again.  Every game since has only further documented why my decision is sound.

Initially it was based on cost, drunken obnoxious fans and too much loud obnovious music to artifically jack up the fans.  Now it is also based on the reality that this program is in true decline from the top down.  The prospect of next season's home games is atrociious and playing App State AGAIN, Utah and PSU at home while having to go to MSU, ND and OSU in the same season is a receipe for disaster.

I refuse to pay these ridiculous prices for what I get out of it.  I'll gladly stay home and save my $2000 a year for two seats on the 33 yardline.


November 10th, 2013 at 3:22 AM ^

I've seen some embarrassing performances in my life but this one takes the cake. This was my first time seeing Michigan in person and I'm not anxious to see them again soon. I drove from Tallahassee Florida to watch a Damn three ring circus? I should've stayed home and watched the Seminoles thrash Wake. How many fuckin times do you hand the ball off for negative yardage before you throw every down? If you ask Al Borges you keep doing it till your forehead is caved in. Ya, I'm pissed.


November 10th, 2013 at 5:58 AM ^

At this point you have to expect it.  Teams have film on how to defend Michigan now.  I was ready to chalk up the MSU stats as a fluke, but this Nebraska game changes everything.  If we can't run the ball on Nebraska, who supposedly has a poor defense, we won't move the ball on Iowa or Ohio.  Maybe Northwestern.  Maybe.

Get ready for a historically bad offense.


November 10th, 2013 at 6:58 AM ^

It's relatively easy to predict this given the amount of of data on the Borges era honestly. 

Taking the net rushing data from every game in the Borges years here at Michigan and normalizing the distribution would show you that the probability of the MSU performance, for example, is about 1.06%, and the probability of yesterday's performance was 2.07%, so you're looking an a negative rushing performance (-1 yards or less) - right now - being 3.28% likely at most.  

That's based on current trends, of course. We have had the two most unusual rushing performances of the last three years happen back-to-back, so perhaps that skews the perceptions of others of the actual relative likelihood. 

EDIT: Ha! Thanks to alum96 for highlighting the problem. Fixed.


November 10th, 2013 at 7:47 AM ^

"and the probability of yesterday's performance was -2.07%..."

And who said Borges couldn't accomplish the impossible....

Obviously even having 1 negative rushing yardage game is an anomaly.  Just via probability you are eventually going to rip off a 20+ yard run if for no other reason than if you run it 100 times eventually one is going to break.  And that is going to offset a few sacks and threaten your negative rushing total

So getting 5 of those in a row will take a seriously heroic effort.   One also has to think if OSU is up by 38 it goes to a prevent style of defense AND the Ohio players mentally relax, so all it takes is 1 mental slip or a "not fully engaged" arm tackle to crush our chances.



November 10th, 2013 at 9:40 AM ^

You say that, but you're not wrong actually and as you might guess, they are noticeably fatter than the tails of the distribution last year. The rushing game has become less productive and more variable. I say we need to being the Lean Manufacturing guys in. 

Bobby Boucher

November 10th, 2013 at 8:18 AM ^

Well, we've definitely got a good start.  I don't know if that plan will work against NW.  I see us getting some sort of production.  They're just as battered as us and it may work to our advantage; however, it's an away game and you know how those end!  Iowa and OSU, no problem.  We'll hit those total negative rushing yards in stride.  I think you get 2 out of 3 to finish the season.

Drew Sharp

November 10th, 2013 at 8:57 AM ^

Borges somehow manages to put together a decent game against Ohio amd our boys execute. We make it competitive or maybe get crazy lucky and win. Borges and Co. keep their jobs.