MnB B1G Preview: New Math -- Revisiting Ohio State at Michigan

ANN ARBOR, MI - NOVEMBER 26: Courtney Avery #5 of the Michigan Wolverines celebrates a late fourth quarter interception in front of Dan Herron #1 of the Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan Stadium on November 26, 2011 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

ESPN Game Recap || MGoBlog Recap || Highlight Video

Michigan 40, Ohio State 34
EqPts Differential: Michigan +6.344
Michigan Ohio State

Michigan Ohio State
TOTAL PLAYS 64 55 STANDARD DOWNS 48 39
Success Rate 0.563 0.455 Success Rate 0.521 0.513
Points Per Play 0.505 0.472 Points Per Play 0.430 0.570
SR + PPP 1.067 0.927 SR + PPP 0.951 1.083
PASSING PLAYS 17 24 PASSING DOWNS 16 16
Success Rate 0.647 0.458 Success Rate 0.688 0.313
Points Per Play 0.785 0.646 Points Per Play 0.729 0.234
SR + PPP 1.432 1.105 SR + PPP 1.417 0.546
RUSHING PLAYS 47 31 1st Down S&P 0.791 1.363
Success Rate 0.532 0.452 2nd Down S&P 1.394 0.523
Points Per Play 0.404 0.337 3rd Down S&P 1.072 0.566
SR + PPP 0.935 0.789

1st Quarter S&P 1.055 0.761
Standard Down Rush S&P 0.900 0.846 2nd Quarter S&P 1.004 1.284
Standard Down Pass S&P 1.204 1.389 3rd Quarter S&P 1.056 0.716
Passing Down Rush S&P 1.137 0.649 4th Quarter S&P 1.135 0.769
Passing Down Pass S&P 1.634 0.414

Leverage Rate 75.0 % 70.9 %
TURNOVERS 1 1 % of plays past midfield 48.4 % 41.8 %


Stat Definitions (via Football Study Hall):

Leverage Rate: A team's ratio of standard downs to passing downs. National average: 68%. Anything over 68% means a team did a good job of avoiding being leveraged into passing downs.

Passing Downs: Second-and-7 or more, third-and-5 or more.

PPP: An explosiveness measure derived from determining the point value of every yard line (based on the expected number of points an offense could expect to score from that yard line) and, therefore, every play of a given game.EqPts is the sum PPP of every play run by an offense. National average: 0.32.

S&P: Think of this as an OPS (the "On-Base Plus Slugging" baseball measure) for football. The 'S' stands for success rate. The 'P' stands for PPP, an explosiveness measure that stands for EqPts Per Play. For more about this measure, visit the main S&P+ page at Football Outsiders. National average: 0.747. Standard downs S&P average: 0.787. Passing downs S&P average: 0.636.

Standard Downs: First downs, second-and-6 or less, third-and-4 or less.

Success Rate: A common Football Outsiders tool used to measure efficiency by determining whether every play of a given game was successful or not. The terms of success in college football: 50 percent of necessary yardage on first down, 70 percent on second down, and 100 percent on third and fourth down. National Average: 42%.

Analysis after the jump:

Outside all of the narratives, the streak-breaking, and the "oh my goodness, this actually happened", I feel like this game -- the game itself, the plays, the drives, and the scores -- weren't quite analyzed as fully as possible. Maybe that was the right thing -- celebrating the win was much more important. Looking at the win itself and what that win meant for the program, not how the win happened, was what people understandably did after the game. Now, looking back many months later, I'm seeing the numbers and just fully realizing how crazy of a game this was. Michigan's offense looked like a juggernaut against a pretty good defense. Denard Robinson turned in one of the greatest performances by any Wolverine ever in this rivalry (14-17 passing, 168 yards and three touchdowns through the air, and 170 rushing yards and two touchdowns, with only one turnover). Michigan's defense was only just good enough and struggled against a mostly inept offense. All that matters is that Michigan won, finally, but it was a truly crazy game regardless of the context. Add in the context, and well, wow.

Michigan's Offense vs. Ohio State's Defense:

It was surreal to see Michigan's offense be so successful against Ohio State after failing to surpass 10 points against the Buckeyes in the previous four meetings, but Michigan's offense was dominant against the Buckeyes. It's not hard to see why: Michigan moved the ball well by passing and running the ball (a success rate of 0.647 and 0.532 respectively), there were a few big plays -- Denard's first long touchdown on an outside run and his two lasers over the middle for touchdowns to Junior Hemingway to Martavious Odoms -- and overall, throughout the game, Michigan's offense was consistently excellent. It's not like there were a bunch of fluke plays either -- Michigan's passing success rate was its highest mark of the season, and its overall success rate (0.563) was only lower than games against Western Michigan and Minnesota. Michigan's Points Per Play was rather average, but its overall S&P was excellent -- the second-best mark in Big Ten play. Denard was virtuosic for the entire game, rarely making mistakes and his passing S&P was only higher against Northwestern and Notre Dame. Since he threw a few interceptions in those games, this game against Ohio State was his best passing performance of the year. In and of itself, Michigan's offense was good enough to blow out the Buckeyes. Unfortunately, the defense didn't quite play as well.

Michigan's Defense vs. Ohio State's Offense:

Ohio State's offense struggled mightily in 2011 with Joe Bauserman at the helm, and even when Braxton Miller finally won the job for good, they still were madly inconsistent at best, and thoroughly mediocre at worst. Still, against Michigan, they put together their best performance of the year and almost sprung the upset in Ann Arbor. Ohio State was mostly effective on first down and struggled in second and third-and-long situations, but the Buckeyes were able to use big plays on those downs and scored on a lot of those big plays -- Miller's early touchdown to Corey Brown and his late first half scoring strike to the newly reinstated DeVier Posey were each plays over 40 yards. Both of those plays, as well as a 19-yard touchdown run by Miller, came on first down. To Michigan's credit, the Buckeyes really only had one great quarter -- the second, in which they scored 17 points -- and the Wolverines were able to slow down Ohio State as the game went on. Ohio State's success rate in the second quarter was 0.667, and no other quarter had an OSU success rate of more than 0.3571. Miller was inconsistent throughout the day and completed only 14 of his 25 pass attempts, but notably missed on a long bomb to Posey that would have put Ohio State in the lead with less than two minutes on the clock. Overall, Michigan's defense was porous and suspect to big plays from explosive playmakers on the OSU offense. Michigan only allowed a higher S&P against Northwestern and Notre Dame.

What this means for next year:

Basically, Ohio State is going to have to do a lot of adjusting to prepare for Michigan's offense, and Michigan fans should be very concerned that, with some elite coaching, Ohio State's offense will put it together and play with some consistency. I'd be surprised if the Buckeye defense fared much better next year -- Denard is back and he singlehandedly destroyed the OSU defense, not with big plays, but with consistent execution throughout the game. On the other side of the ball, if Urban Meyer can coach Miller up to be an elite quarterback, his arm and his legs will continue to give the Wolverine defense a ton of problems. I'd expect another high-scoring game next year in the Horseshoe.

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