Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Whoa! Not So Fast My Friend: Indiana

Indiana fans are pumped up about their 3-0 start to the season. And well why not? It's exciting to win. But more importantly they have revenge on their minds after last year's game in which Tate Forcier did Tate-like things: thing 1 and thing 2.

With very similar starts to the 2010 season as the 2009 season, things will be different this year, right? Well let's take a look at these two team so far.

I came across a couple of interesting statistics that I think will help give us a picture of the two teams. Instead of looking at the total and scoring offense numbers or total and scoring defense numbers, we are going to look at how efficient the offenses and defenses are. We will also look at strength of schedule and Sagarin rank of each team to get an idea of what we can expect.

Offensive Efficiency
To find out how efficient an offense is we are going to take the total yards and divide it by points scored. It gives us a yards per point score. This will give us an indication of how efficiently an offense scores. It's good indicator of total team success.

Michigan - 13.64 yds/point good for 55th in the nation
Indiana - 10.09 yds/point good for 6th in the nation

That might be a little surprising for some given the performance of the Michigan's offense to date. But when we look at Time of Possession we see that Michigan is holding the ball longer at 31:37 TOP/game vs IU's 28:44. Also, consider that Michigan is averaging 25.8 first downs per game to IU's 22. And, Michigan is averaging 2 more third down attempts per game than Indiana makes me believe that Indiana, being a passing team, is scoring on longer plays where Michigan, being a running team, is going on long drives.

Defensive Efficiency
Similar to the offensive efficiency number, we take the total yards given up and divide that by the number of points surrendered to give us a Yard per point given up or a defensive efficiency number. In the converse to the offensive number the larger the number here means that offenses have to work a lot harder to score against that team. This is a great way for teams that play a bend-but-don't-break style (like Michigan) to measure up to other teams. For example: Alabama is ranked first with a 30.28 yds/point (they are number one by almost 4 yards. They're good). Let's look at UM and IU.

Michigan - 17.39 yds/point for 41st in the nation
Indiana - 17.5 yds/point for 39th in the nation

Virtually the same. I was shocked to see that Michigan although 93rd in total defense, fared so well by this metric. This my friends, gives me hope.

Looking at the efficiency numbers, alone, it would seem that Indiana should be primed to take down the Wolverines. But, "Not So Fast My Friend!"

Let's take a look at the strength of schedule for each team.

Michigan - 66th ranked schedule
Indiana - 120th ranked schedule

That's right dead last. Indiana's schedule is ranked the worst in the FBS. "It's early, everybody schedules cupcakes." Sure I can give you that. But let's look at the particular flavor of cupcake Indiana has been munching on:

Towson - 1-3
OEff - 15.71 - 90*
DEff - 9.25 - 120*
Sagarin - 195

Western Kentucky - 0-4
OEff - 16.69 - 99
DEff - 10.15 - 119
SOS - 93
Sagarin - 144

Akron - 0-4
OEff - 15.17 - 84
DEff - 12.02 - 106
SOS - 96
Sagarin - 175

Holy Schnikies that is awful. The only victory any IU opponent has has was over Coastal Carolina in 5 OTs (for the record Coastal Carolina's Sagarin ranking is 185). Look at those DEff numbers. These teams are revolving doors. It's no wonder IU ranks 6th in OEff. Now, I will say IU pasted Towson, but they only beat the other two by 15 and 16 respectively.

By comparison let's look at Michigan's foes:

UConn - 2-2
OEff - 11.82 - 27
DEff - 16.26 - 51
SOS - 51
Sagarin - 69

ND - 1-3
OEff - 18.53 - 110
DEff - 15.63 - 58
SOS - 22
Sagarin - 64

UMass - 3-1
OEff - 15.23 - 84*
DEff - 15.17 - 67*
Sagarin - 84

Bowling Green - 1-3
OEff - 11.67 - 94
DEff - 13.5 - 85
SOS - 77
Sagarin - 94

Of the cupcake variety? Maybe. Although, it is good for the 66th ranked schedule. Well, UConn and Bowling Green have pretty efficient offenses. BG is ahead of Nebraska and Nevada. And, hell, at least all the teams have a win. Even our FCS snack cake is ranked higher by Sagarin than Indiana (85). The only team that is not ranked lower than any team on IU's schedule is Bowling Green and you saw that outcome.

So what has this little exercise taught us? A few things I think:

1) None of Indiana's statistical rankings stand up. I'm not sure you can take any of them seriously given the competition.
2) Michigan's defense efficiency is better than any of us expected. And they've been tested by some decent offensively efficient teams.
3) Indiana's defensive efficiency is basically the same as Michigan's but against offensively efficient teams ranked near dead last in the nation.
4) I'm not nearly as nervous as I was before I did this little exercise.

Go Blue!

*this is where they would rank among FBS teams although I didn't include all FCS teams.

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