Michigan 44 MSU 10 – Week 12 Recap

WEEK 12 PROJECTION vs. RESULTS

Final Score: 44-10, Michigan by 34 over Michigan State
SP+ Projection: Michigan by 12.7 (+21.3)
CD Projection: Michigan by 17 (+17)

FIVE FACTORS

Week 12 Five Factors box score

WEEK 12 RECAP vs. MSU

That game had a little bit of everything, but it ended with a Maize & Blue avalanche.  After Michigan State scored early to take a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, Michigan roared back 44-3.  This year’s Spartan team is not up the Mark Dantonio standard of this decade. However, I am sure that doesn’t make Jim Harbaugh’s third victory over MSU any less sweet.  

Michigan’s offense was led by a career day for Shea Patterson.  The senior quarterback was 24 of 33 for 384 yards and 4 touchdown passes.  Today also marked the first game in 2019 that Michigan passed more than it ran in a victory.  Josh Gattis called 55% pass plays in a 34-point blowout. This could signal another major step forward for #SpeedInSpace in the final two games.  Offensively, 7.4 yards per play is their best mark of the season, and the 51% success rate is third best.  

On defense, the narrative held pretty much as predicted.  Michigan State had a solid game plan and back of tricks coming out of the gate.  However, once they had shown Don Brown all that was hidden, MSU could not get much moving.  The Spartans averaged 5.2 yards per play in the first quarter as they took their 7-0 lead. In the third quarter they accumulated almost as much yardage as the first (74 total yards), but needed 19 plays to do it.  In the fourth quarter, Michigan State could only muster 28 yards on 13 plays (2.2 yards per play). Perhaps the most encouraging signal sent by the defense came from the bone-jarring hit Khaleke Hudson put on an MSU wide receiver on a crossing route.  That signal was sent directly to Indiana and Ohio State, who decimated the Wolverines’ coverage with similar routes last year.

Whatever did not go well in the first bye week (before the Wisconsin game) definitely got corrected for the second bye week.  Jim Harbaugh and his staff had Michigan executing as well as we’ve seen in 2019. This crescendo in November is a welcome sight.  In his first four seasons, finishing each season on a low note has been a legitimate criticism of Harbaugh. Now the challenge is to give the proper respect and preparation for a very good Indiana team.  Preparing for a road trap game will fall directly on Harbaugh and his staff. For now, enjoy the State Championship. It’s GREAT…to BE…a Michigan WOLVERINE!

By the Numbers: Week 12 vs. MSU

LAST WEEK RECAP

During the Week 11 Bye, we looked at 2018 & 2019 through 9 games, and we kept an eye on what to expect in the final 3 games.

NEXT UP: vs. Michigan State: 35th, 9.8

PREGAME SP+: Michigan by 12.7, Michigan Win Probability 77%
Bill Connelly’s metric system is now dialed in with eleven weeks worth of data.  With that said, the SP+ spread has moved in Michigan’s direction by only 1.2 points, with a small 2-point bump in Win Probability.

Michigan Offense (43rd) vs. Michigan State Defense (11th) 
Michigan’s offense has not been quite as good as expected, but the Spartan defense hasn’t either.  When I have watched Michigan State games in 2019, it feels an awful lot like watching the Wolverines in 2017.  This defense is good, but they just cannot maintain a high level of play for a full 60 minutes. A lot of that is because the offense does not give them breaks in time of possession or field position.  But, the Michigan State defense is also prone to making mistakes that turn into explosive plays. Offensively, Michigan has shown that they can be effective against top defenses. The Wolverines have played three top 10 SP+ defenses (Wisconsin, Iowa, & Penn State), plus Notre Dame is 23rd.  The key will be whether Josh Gattis’ group comes out of the bye week sharp enough to exploit the inevitable MSU mistakes for big plays.

Michigan Defense (4th) vs. Michigan State Offense (84th)
The match up between Michigan’s defense and MSU’s offense will determine whether this game remains tight, or gets out of hand.  The Spartans will definitely want to turn this game into a rock fight by grinding out first downs and playing the field position game.  As Don Brown has transitioned to multiple fronts, and mixed in more zone coverage, Michigan has allowed some yardage but has tightened up on scoring opportunities.  In this game, MSU would gladly march between the 20 yard lines and milk the clock. The Wolverines must turn the rivalry game energy and emotion into a laser focus on run fits during standard downs.  Once they’ve forced Michigan State into passing downs, Michigan will be looking to create havoc.

PREDICTION: As bad as the Spartan offense has been, SP+ thinks their special teams are worse.  They are currently ranked 108th nationally. This doesn’t bode well for the field position rock fight strategy that I expect from Mark Dantonio.  I was happy to hear Jim Harbaugh using “High Alert” as the program mantra this week. This season was reduced to a one-game season in October. Potentially winning this game is the last shred of opportunity remaining the Spartans.  Dantonio will have them playing at their highest level, but that won’t be good enough. #LeaveNoDoubt
Michigan 24 Michigan State 7 (PRESEASON Michigan 17 MSU 13)

MICHIGAN RESUME UPDATE (11/11/2019), 7-2

  • SP+ Overall: 15th (↓4), 19.9
    • SP+ Offense:43rd (↑3), 32.3
    • SP+ Defense: 4th (↓1), 12.3
    • SP+ Special Teams 70th (↓1) -0.1
  • CFP Rank: 15th (↓1)
  • AP Poll: 14th (same), 744
  • Coaches’ Poll: 14th (same), 731
Week 12 Resume

By the Numbers: Week 11 Bye – Q3 Review

LAST WEEK RECAP

Michigan gave up zero points on defense, and beat Maryland by 31 points.  Somehow these facts did not produce the same celebratory tone within the fan base.

NEXT UP: Bye Week, then vs. Michigan State: 29th, 11.2

Match up breakdown and prediction will return in Week 12 vs. Michigan State

THROUGH 9 GAMES: COMPARING 2018 & 2019

Michigan’s second bye week arrives as the Wolverines transition from the third quarter of the season to the fourth.  The early season existential crisis for the fan base seems to have dwindled a bit. Most of that anxiety is probably just on the shelf until the last two rivalry games.  Many Michigan fans continue to brace for the impact of the #1 Ohio State Buckeyes’ visit to the Big House. During the off week, we can compare how the 2018 metrics through nine games compared to the fourth quarter of the season.  In the far right column, I’ll share my expectations for the final three games of 2019.

SCHEDULE
In terms of average SP+ ranking, the 2019 season has a much tougher conclusion for Michigan.  In 2018 the final three games against Rutgers, Indiana, and Ohio State produced an average ranking of 61st.  In 2019, Michigan State, Indiana, and Ohio State average out to 17th!

OFFENSE
Last season, the offense stayed very consistent through the final three games.  The two significant changes were a slight improvement in Points per Opportunity and an increase in turnovers.  For 2019, I expect to see more of the same in terms of Explosiveness and Finishing Drives. While the decrease in Yards per Play in 2019 was not what we expected under Josh Gattis, the successful plays have still produced the same IsoPPP.  I expect the Wolverines to make their most impactful offensive improvement in Efficiency. In the first part of the 2019 season, success rate has been significantly hampered by lack of rhythm due to turnovers. As Michigan has taken better care of the ball, the success rate has trended upward.  I expect both of those upward trends to continue through the end of this season.

Offense Q3 Review 2018-19

DEFENSE
Curiosity about the 2018 Defensive splits drove this particular comparison article.  As expected, the numbers were significantly worse. The surprise came in seeing the downward trend really started in the tenth game, a 42-7 win at Rutgers.  The Scarlet Knights finished with 4.8 Yards per Play, and the same IsoPPP (1.24) against Michigan as the Buckeyes did. These 2018 problems triggered the 2019 scheme and personnel changes by Don Brown.  The metrics show Michigan’s defense has not been quite as strong as they were the first nine games last year. However, this year I expect them to maintain the current levels. Utilizing multiple fronts and coverages, Brown has been able to stay true to his aggressive philosophy.  The focus on QB pressure allows this defense to make key plays on critical downs. I believe being less predictable with blitzes and coverages will result in maintaining the current 2019 results, as opposed to the November melt down that we saw last season.

Defense Q3 Review 2018-19

SPECIAL TEAMS
Michigan’s special teams just stopped a mid-season slide that saw them down to 80th in the SP+ special teams rankings.  The poor field goal kicking plays a large part in that slide, but we can also check the impact on field position. The Wolverines average start at their own 33 yard line is exactly the same as 2018.  However, the 2019 number comes as a result of the increase in turnovers forced by the defense balancing out some losses in the kicking and return game. Against Maryland Will Hart returned to booming 50+ yard punts (50.8 on average).  In his previous five games, Hart was only kicking the ball 44.7 yards on average. He and the coverage team pushed his net punt average back up to 39.6, still not as good as 2018. Pinning teams deep into their own territory will be a critical factor in the final three November games.  I expect to see the net punting improvement continue with Hart back in form. Continuing the explosiveness in Michigan’s own return game would also be a welcome surprise.

Special Teams Q3 Review 2018-19

MICHIGAN RESUME UPDATE (11/5/2019), 7-2

  • SP+ Overall: 11th (same), 20.8
    • SP+ Offense:46th (↓5), 32.8
    • SP+ Defense: 3rd (↓1), 11.9
    • SP+ Sp. Teams 69th (↑11) 0.0
  • CFP Rank: 14th
  • AP Poll: 14th (same), 780
  • Coaches’ Poll: 14th (↑1), 746
Week 11 Resume

Michigan 38 Maryland 7 – Week 10 Recap

WEEK 10 PROJECTION vs. RESULTS

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

FIVE FACTORS

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

LAST WEEK RECAP

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