By the Numbers: Week 2 vs. Michigan State

Lack of accuracy from Storm Troopers leads to notoriously weak offensive efficiency. Pew! Pew!

LAST WEEK RECAP

Michigan opened the 2020 season on the road, at night, against a ranked opponent.  The 49-24 victory over Minnesota was impressive, and many national pundits are taking notice.

NEXT UP: vs. Michigan State: 60th, 2.0

PREGAME SP+: Michigan by 19.2, Michigan Win Probability 87%
After the Spartans lost their home opener to Rutgers in week 1, the expectations for this game have drastically shifted.  I still think SP+ is under-rating Michigan a bit, and the system is definitely over-rating the Spartans.

Michigan Offense (23rd) vs. Michigan State Defense (17th)
Josh Gattis kicked off his second year as Michigan’s offensive coordinator with a 59% Success Rate (garbage time removed).  That is the most efficient offensive performance for Michigan since November 5th, 2016 versus Maryland.  While Minnesota’s defense was not strong, the last five outings have produced these efficiency results: 52% at Maryland, 52% at Indiana, 45% vs. Ohio State, 49% vs. Alabama, and 59% on Saturday in Minneapolis.  Because SP+ still weighs returning production and preseason ranks after one game, I think the Wolverines’ offense is drastically under-rated.

Michigan Defense (10th) vs. Michigan State Offense (113th)
The Spartans have had some anemic offensive performances the past few seasons as Mark Dantonio refused to adapt and modernize the offense.  Mel Tucker’s offensive squad produced seven (!) turnovers at home vs. Rutgers, and struggled to run the ball.  I expect Michigan will be able to bottle up the MSU rushing attack as well.  Defensive wins on standard downs will set up QB Rocky Lombardi vs. Don Brown’s pass rush in clear passing downs.  That promises to be quite an adventure.

PREDICTION: A short time ago, in the preseason, I was giving the Spartans the benefit of the doubt.  I thought they would be coming off a relatively easy victory.  I also thought that easy victory would allow them to hide a few “kitchen sink” plays that they were saving for the rivalry game.  One short week later, it’s clear to me there is a wide gap between how Jim Harbaugh and his staff were able to prepare during COVID, and how Mel Tucker was able to prepare.  This should become a horror show for Sparty fans.  Happy Halloween!
Michigan 48 Michigan State 3 (PRESEASON Michigan 31 Michigan State 14)

MICHIGAN RESUME UPDATE (10/28/2020), 1-0

SP+ Overall: 9th (↑8), 18.8
SP+ Offense: 23rd (↑15), 35.5
SP+ Defense: 10th (↑4), 16.7
SP+ Special Teams 71st (N/A) -0.1

AP Poll: 13th (↑5), 839
Coaches’ Poll: 14th (↑3), 789
CFP Rank: N/A

Michigan 49 Minnesota 24 – Week 1 Recap

WEEK 1 PROJECTION vs. RESULTS

Final Score: 49-24, Michigan by 25 over Minnesota
SP+ Projection: Minnesota by 3 (+28)
CD Projection: Michigan by 4 (+21)

FIVE FACTORS

Five Factors Summary Week 1 – Michigan 49 Minnesota 24

WEEK 1 RECAP @ Minnesota

Overall, this was Michigan’s best road performance since 2018 in East Lansing.

On offense Michigan flexed their muscle on the offensive line. The Wolverines are deep at running back. It looks like the back will be selected based on how and where Josh Gattis wants to attack. Tight end Erick All flashed some promise in the absence of Nick Eubanks, but dropped a touchdown down the middle.

The Michigan defense helped their own cause by scoring a 1st quarter touchdown as Donovan Jeter plucked Tanner Morgan’s fumble from mid-air and ran it in from 15 yards out. The fumble was forced by viper Michael Barrett on a edge blitz. Barrett was everywhere for the Wolverines. It took a while to get going, but Kwity Paye, Aiden Hutchinson, and Carlo Kemp finally got to the quarterback in the 2nd half.

There were some scary moments on special teams, including an opening blocked punt that set up Minnesota’s first score. Jake Moody also missed all three field goal attempts. However, Michael Barrett did explode for a huge 65-yard kickoff return setting up a Joe Milton touchdown pass to Ben Mason.

I think we all expected some rocky moments, and some hiccups. They were present, but I am personally very impressed with how Michigan showed poise and executed on the road, at night, on national TV.