Michigan 31 Maryland 24 – Game 11 Recap


Final Score: 31-24, Michigan by 7 over Maryland
SP+ Projection: Michigan by 20.9 (-13.9)
CD Projection: Michigan by 26 (-19)


GAME 11 RECAP @ Maryland

A common assumption coming into this trap game was that big chunks of Michigan’s play book were likely off limits. JJ McCarthy kept for a short loss on just one surprising read option. Also, I don’t recall a single target for Donovan Edwards in the air. For the 2nd consecutive week, the Wolverines succeeded in winning on the road using predominantly their base run & pass plays. JJ was a bit off target, going 12-23 for 141 yards, 0 TD & 1 INT. Also of note, starting tackle Ladarius Henderson was not available, and back up Myles Hinton also limped off in the second half.

The Michigan defense provided much more firepower against the Terrapins, but also caused concern. Mike Sainristil stepped forward as a clutch play maker once again with two interceptions. Linebacker depth caused fear when senior Mike Barrett stayed down with an upper body injury, although he returned in the second half. Earlier in the game Barrett’s strip-sack led to Derrick Moore’s defensive touchdown.

Kenneth Grant and Mason Graham both created havoc from their tackle positions. However, we saw multiple DBs, including Sainristil & Will Johnson, give up explosive plays on vertical routes. Playing a bend but don’t break defensive game plan allows some run game success and underneath passes. But, the Wolverines also struggled versus double moves. This test will resurface very soon, from much more talented receivers.

The special teams units were the true stars of the 1,000th win for Michigan. Christian Boivin blocked a punt in the 1st quarter, leading to a 2-point safety. Punter Tommy Doman punted 5 times, averaging 47.2 yards per kick (average net 41 yards). His best came last: a golf shot downed at the Maryland 1 yard line. The Wolverines would get another safety on the ensuing defensive series.

Michigan fans understand being anxious during Game #11. The Wolverines tend to simplify their game plan, and also focus on reducing injury risk with the Buckeyes looming. This particular example weighed extra heavy given the ongoing NCAA investigation and Jim Harbaugh’s 3-game suspension. However, the Wolverines are 11-0 and still have every goal to compete for when Ohio State comes to Ann Arbor in just over six days. Onward!

Michigan 38 Maryland 7 – Week 10 Recap


Final Score: 38-7, Michigan by 31 over Maryland
SP+ Projection: Michigan by 16.3 (+14.7)
CD Projection: Michigan by 17 (+14)


WEEK 10 RECAP @ Maryland

The narrative that the media preferred was Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis vs. Maryland head coach Mike Locksley.  After some chippiness back in the summer, both coaches downplayed that media angle going into the Week 10 game in College Park.  Instead, Michigan won this game by controlling every phase of the game, although by a smaller margin than many expected. The Wolverines had a smallish edge in each of the Five Factors in the box score above.  

Offensively, Michigan chose a very balanced approach with 55 % of play calls being run plays.  The ground game accounted for 46% of the total yardage. Zach Charbonnet continues to churn out yards and find the end zone.  This week he became the all-time record holder for rushing touchdowns in a freshman season. In the first half, explosive plays were the difference between the Wolverines and Terps.  On a key 51 yard bomb to Nico Collins, quarterback Shea Patterson looked to be in much better rhythm and hit Collins in stride over the top of the defense.

On the defensive side of the ball, Michigan’s opponents continue to come up with successful game plans versus Don Brown.  However, that success has a shelf life of only the first quarter. Once Brown’s adjustments are made, Michigan dominates statistically, and the opposing offense is left seeing stars.  Only 0.3% separated Maryland’s success rate and Michigan’s. But after missing a 37-yard field goal attempt in the 2nd quarter, the Terrapins punted on their next seven possessions. Maryland only amassed 78 total yards on those seven drives.

Michigan now heads into their second bye week.  The additional time off should serve the Wolverines well by providing additional opportunity to nurse bumps, bruises, and minor injuries.  Michigan did not perform well coming out of the first bye week to play a road game at Wisconsin. This time, the second of three home rivalry games awaits on the other side of the bye.  I am sure Jim Harbaugh’s staff will be digging deep into their detail prep while watching the Michigan State Spartans try to right the ship against Illinois.

By the Numbers: Week 10 @ Maryland


The running game clicked on offense, and the defense swarmed as Michigan dominated Notre Dame 45-14.  The win will be remembered as Jim Harbaugh’s second over a top 10 team, but SP+ had Notre Dame ranked 19th going in.

NEXT UP: @ Maryland: 56th, 2.3

PREGAME SP+: Michigan by 16.3, Michigan Win Probability 83%
Michigan’s defensive unit ranking continues to climb, currently up to #2 in SP+ rankings.  The offense, after an early season drop to #72, has clawed back to 41st against some solid defensive teams.  The special teams unit continues to drop, now down another fourteen spots to #80.

Michigan Offense (41st) vs. Maryland Defense (64th) 
My calls for patience regarding this offense are starting to look better.  If the Wolverines can put together another dominating offensive performance on the road versus an average defense, then I will officially feel vindicated.  In the preseason preview I mentioned that SP+ ranked Maryland defense exactly in the middle (65th). As the calendar turns to November the Terps defense is 64th, and gave up 42 points per game in their last three contests (@ Purdue, vs. Indiana, @ Minnesota).  I wonder if offensive coordinator Josh Gattis and Jim Harbaugh remember the Terrapins’ head coach making snide comments (“Josh who?”) at Big Ten Media Day regarding his former assistant at Alabama.

Michigan Defense (2nd) vs. Maryland Offense (58th)
In 2018, most of us (Michigan fans) were taken by surprise when Ohio State sprung an offensive assault on Don Brown’s defense.  The defense’s performance in late season games may have been sending us warning signs. After a tremendous week 8 performance last year in East Lansing, Michigan’s YTD success rate against was 33%.  At that point, the defense allowed an average of 3.9 yards per play (YPP), and IsoPPP (Points gained per successful play) was 0.84.  I compared those averages to what we saw in those metrics from games #9-12 in 2018 below. Going into Game #9 of the 2019 season, on the road versus an average opponent, the Michigan defense MUST maintain their high level of play and attention to detail.  The last thing the Wolverines need is another downward trend through November.

  • Michigan 2018 Defense Avg. through 8 Games
    • Efficiency: 33% Success Rate
    • Explosiveness: YPP 3.9 IsoPP 0.84
  • Game 9 vs. Penn State
    • Efficiency: 28% Success Rate
    • Explosiveness: YPP 4.0 IsoPP 0.95
  • Game 10 @ Rutgers
    • Efficiency: 25% Success Rate
    • Explosiveness: YPP 4.8 IsoPP 1.24
  • Game 11 vs. Indiana
    • Efficiency: 35% Success Rate
    • Explosiveness: YPP 5.1 IsoPP 1.01
  • Game 12 @ Ohio State
    • Efficiency: 51% Success rate
    • Explosiveness: YPP 8.8 IsoPP 1.24

PREDICTION: Michigan’s dominance over Notre Dame made most of us feel better, and I am relieved for that.  I started to wonder where my own optimism was coming from after the heartbreak in Happy Valley.  Now, going into this road tilt in College Park, I think the pendulum may have swung the other way.  The fan base is back to expecting a total blowout, and I am more conservative. Until I see at least one complete performance away from the Big House, it will be tough for me to predict one.  I expect this game to feel similar to the Illinois game, with a handful of problems smearing our memory of a multi-score victory.
Michigan 30 Maryland 13 (PRESEASON Michigan 35 Maryland 7)

MICHIGAN RESUME UPDATE (10/27/2019), 6-2

  • SP+ Overall: 11th (↑3), 21.1
    • SP+ Offense:41st (↑11), 32.6
    • SP+ Defense: 2nd (↑2), 11.4
    • SP+ Sp. Teams 80th (↓14) -0.1
  • AP Poll: 14th (↑5), 744
  • Coaches’ Poll: 15th (↑5), 652
  • CFP Rank: N/A
Week 10 Resume

Michigan Football By the Numbers: Maryland

We are now half way through the season, and the Wolverines are 5-1. I am going to look at the performance versus Maryland alongside some trends and averages to this point. My goal is to provide a useful prism through which we can view these critical upcoming games versus Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Penn State.

What is S&P+
The original system was based on Success rate and equivalent Points per play. It was an attempt at an OPS-style measure for football, a look at both efficiency and explosiveness. As so many things do, however, it has grown more complicated.In its current state, S&P+ is based around the core concepts of the Five Factors of winning football: efficiency, explosiveness, field position, finishing drives, and turnoversFull Explanation 


Jim Harbaugh’s offensive philosophy is a popular topic both locally and nationally. Conversations and debates range from Pro-style vs. Spread, to Power vs. Inside Zone, and even Clock Control vs. Quick Strike. I am going to focus on one of Michigan’s main objectives: to use balanced play calling to provide max flexibility by situation. To this point in the season, the Wolverines are averaging 59.3% run plays, and 40.7% pass plays. Total yardage is split even closer at 51.2% run and 48.8% pass. The play calling in the Maryland game followed this trend very closely, dividing 60.9% run and 39.1% pass.
We can also see balance when looking at Success Rate. Through six games, Michigan’s overall offensive success rate is 49.2%. This breaks down to a 50.4% Success Rate on run plays, and 47.5% Success Rate on pass plays. The Maryland game provides reason for optimism by showing the offense is on an upward trend. On Saturday, the Wolverines were successful on 57.1% of their run plays, and on 55.6% of their pass plays.


From game to game, the Michigan defense is amazingly consistent from a Success Rate perspective. The Wolverines are allowing successful plays only 33.2% of the time. The most successful team was Northwestern, with a 39.7% success rate, while the least successful team was Nebraska at 24.0%. Perhaps the statistic that is most emblematic of Don Brown’s philosophy is the yardage allowed on unsuccessful plays: 56 yards. That is TOTAL, through SIX games. Two-thirds of the plays run against Michigan’s defense have accumulated just 56 yards, or 0.2 yards per play. For even more perspective, Maryland’s average of 0.9 yds per play on unsuccessful plays is the BEST by any team versus Michigan so far in 2018.
Overall, the Success Rate versus Michigan’s defense is also very consistent by quarter and by half. However, the two most troublesome performances stand out pretty clearly in their 1st Half / 2nd Half splits. Notre Dame: 1st Half – 42.5% / 2nd Half – 22.2% & Northwestern: 1st Half – 44.4% / 2nd Half – 33.3%. In the three key games coming up for the Wolverines, it feels like the halftime score will be particularly predictive. The key for the Michigan defense will be to eliminate the fast starts for their opponents.


Overall: 22.7, 5th (up 2)
Offense: 36.3, 25th (up 2)
Defense: 14.0, 2nd (up 2)


vs. Maryland UM 42 MD 21
Pregame S&P+: UM by 9.15, 6-0
Pregame Clint: UM by 25, 5-1
MICH Cumulative 2ndO Wins: 5.4

@ Northwestern: UM 20 NEB 17
Pregame S&P+: UM by 10.7, 5-0
Pregame Clint: UM by 17, 4-1
MICH Cumulative 2ndO Wins: 4.4

vs. Nebraska: UM 56 NEB 10
Pregame S&P+: UM by 8.6, 4-0
Pregame Clint: UM by 11, 3-1
MICH Cumulative 2ndO Wins: 3.6

vs. SMU: UM 45 SMU 20
Pregame S&P+: UM by 20.0, 3-0
Pregame Clint: UM by 39, 2-1
MICH Cumulative 2ndO Wins: 2.6

vs. Western Michigan: UM 49 WMU 3
Pregame S&P+: UM by 10.8, 2-0
Pregame Clint: UM by 25, 1-1
MICH Cumulative 2ndO Wins: 1.6

@ Notre Dame: ND 24 UM 17
Preseason S&P+: ND by 0.1, 1-0
Preseason Clint: UM by 4, 0-1
MICH Cumulative 2ndO Wins: 0.6


vs. Wisconsin: Overall 15.3, 13th
M Offense 36.3, (25th) vs. O Defense 27.8 (55th), Midpoint: 32.05
M Defense 14.0 (2nd) vs. O Offense 42.8 (8th), Midpoint: 28.4

The midpoint S&P+ gives a 3.65 point edge to Michigan. The Badger offense is producing right around the rate at which most predicted in the preseason. However, it is a big surprise to see Wisconsin’s defense just barely above average. They were 9th in the preseason S&P+ rankings.

GAME WEEK UPDATE: Michigan would love to buck the trend of slow starts on both sides of the ball. The last thing the Wolverines want to do is spot the Badgers a lead for Jonathan Taylor and their O-Line to protect. I expect this to be very close into the 4th quarter, with a handful of defensive and special teams big plays delivering a huge win for Michigan.
Michigan 24 Wisconsin 20 (PRESEASON: Wisconsin 24 Michigan 21)


Balance on offense, and an attacking defense have led to a 5-1 start for the Wolverines. However, Michigan started 5-1 in 2017 also. Finding success into the November schedule (i.e. wins over Wisconsin, MSU, & PSU) is absolutely required to eliminate Michigan’s reputation for fading down the stretch under Jim Harbaugh.