Is Michigan safe from an upset against Minnesota?

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 11.55.12 AMLast week, I wrote a preview of Michigan at Minnesota asking whether the 14 point spread was too much. The markets closed at 11 points.

It’s always tough to evaluate a Michigan team that has improved under new coach Jim Harbaugh. Are they top 10 in the nation? My numbers suggest more like top 20.

Minnesota seemed to be off this year with bad losses to Northwestern and Nebraska. Then coach Jerry Kill retired due to health concerns a few days before the Michigan game.

I tried to convince my mates on the MGoBlog round table on Thursday morning. However, none of them thought Minnesota had a chance in this game.

On Saturday night, Minnesota played a fantastic game in which they outgained Michigan in yards by 461 to 296. However, they couldn’t score a touchdown from the half yard line on the final play of the game to lose 29-26.

I think interim coach Tracy Claeys forgot he could tie the game with a field goal. Instead he tried to run on the best rush defense in the nation.

To read the article, click here.

Michigan State at Michigan preview at Detroit News

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 11.01.32 AMLast week, I wrote a preview of Michigan State at Michigan over at the Detroit News. Michigan State won on a stunning game on fumble recovery for a touchdown on the final play of the game.

My numbers that favored Michigan win 9 points were off. However, I did think my analysis was strong.

The Spartans must throw the ball early and often. With a poor rush attack, they need to attack Michigan’s defense with Cook’s arm to score points.

Michigan will try to cram the ball down the throat of Michigan State’s defense. Defensive linemen Malik McDowell and Shilique Calhoun must play big to slow down the Michigan offense.

Cook kept Michigan State in the game with 7.12 yards per attempt against a great Michigan defense. Michigan State’s defensive line helped hold Michigan to 2.4 yards per carry.

To read the full article, click here.

Northwestern at Michigan preview on Detroit News

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 3.54.11 PMOver at the Detroit News, I previewed the Northwestern at Michigan game.

Both teams have great defenses. The markets predict a total of 35 points, not far from The Power Rank prediction of 38.7. It will be a slow, ugly game.

However, Northwestern has an offense that ranks worse in my numbers than the Maryland team that Michigan shut out last week.

In addition, Northwestern defends the pass better than the run. This plays into the hands of Jim Harbaugh, who has run of 57% of plays.

To read the full article, click here.

BYU at Michigan preview in Detroit News

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 9.33.48 AMOver at the Detroit News, I looked at Michigan through efficiency numbers and previewed the BYU game.

By yards per play, Michigan’s run defense looks amazing. In fact, the entire defense has been terrific.

On offense, the passing game hasn’t been great but looks better by the numbers than many would expect.

At the end of the article, I previewed the BYU game and stated that my prediction of Michigan by 5.5 was probably low. (I did a better job with the preview in this article.) Michigan won 31-0 in a dominating performance.

To read the article, click here.

Primer on college football analytics

detnews_persistOver at the Detroit News, I wrote about three of the most important concepts in college football analytics. It’s part one of a two part primer on analytics 101.

I looked at the following three concepts.

  • Last season matters. Teams tend to persist from year to year.
  • Predicting turnovers. Randomness plays a large role in turnovers, but there is some evidence for predicting interceptions.
  • Efficiency, efficiency, efficiency. Yards per play is a good place to start.

To read the article, click here.

Part two will come later in the season.