If I didn’t work from home quite often these days, I’d probably have gone into the office to a ton of excuses from Michigan (sucks!) fans about why Notre Dame didn’t really slaughter Michigan (sucks!), and how Michigan (sucks!) instead slaughtered themselves.
Luckily, I didn’t have to go into the office today, so I didn’t face this army of Brian-Cook-wannabes. But maybe you weren’t so fortunate. For you, and for the fight against Communism, HLS Florida Bureau spy and international man of intrigue, BJGator, set his data-analysis lemmings to the task of digging through the numbers to create some real “information” about the game while he took out a terrorist cell in Tampa. He then deftly put together a summary of the information for world-wide distribution while making Florida coeds swoon.
Here’s his report:
What all Irish fans have had to endure is the assertion that Notre Dame was thoroughly outplayed by Michigan (sucks!) and that the Wolverines simply gave away the game. Arguments include that UM had more time of possession, offensive yards, first downs, and yards per play. Of course, the subtle nuances that affect those statistics are completely ignored.
Average Starting Field Position
ND – Own 39
UM – Own 25
Number of Drives
ND – 13
UM – 13
Net Yards Gained on Offense Through Penalties
ND – +35
UM – +9
Total Yards that Could Have been Gained by the Offense (with penalties factored in)
ND – 756
UM – 968
Actual Yards Gained
ND – 263
UM – 391
% of Possible Yards Actually Gained
ND – 34.8%
UM – 40.4%
Total Time of Possession
ND – 27:48
UM – 32:12
Second Half Time of Possession
ND – 17:45
UM – 12:15
Average Time of Possession per Drive**
ND – 2:31
UM – 2:26
Points off Turnovers
ND – 21
UM – 3
*The statistics I list here do not include drives that ended a half, since neither half-ending drive was an attempt to move the ball and score.
**Scoring drives that took less than a minute to complete were not included when calculating Average Time of Possesion per Drive, since it was not inept offense that caused such a short drive.
OK, that’s a ton of derived statistics. My brain is completely fried at this point, but I will still try to give some cogent analysis. Let’s start with Time of Possession. Sure, Michigan (sucks!) had the ball longer, but keep in mind that Notre Dame’s first 3 drives were scoring drives of less than one minute. We couldn’t keep the ball long because it took us so little time to score. You’ll notice that we dominated Time of Possession in the second half, when we weren’t ramming the ball down Michigan’s (sucks!) throats, but rather playing ball control offense. Yes, the Wolverines outgained the Irish, but they had a much longer field to work with. It is a hell of a lot easier to gain yards in your own half than in your opponents. The Irish played pretty good “bend, but don’t break” defense against UM (s!), allowing cheap yards, but stopping them when it really counted. This same logic can be used to explain the difference in yards per play. Additionally, the Irish were being very conservative as they tried to maintain the lead and didn’t attempt to make big plays in the second half. Meanwhile, the Skunkbears were frantically trying to gain yards throughout the game. I will not argue that Notre Dame thoroughly outclassed Michigan (sucks!). Many of the key turnovers were unforced. But if points off turnovers were completely eliminated, the score of this game would have been 14-14. Michigan (sucks) did not dominate this game. Notre Dame’s great field position and conservative style in the second half merely made the offensive statistics seem much less impressive. This was a very even game, save for 3 key turnovers by the Skunkbears, which turned an even matchup into a blowout.
Notre Dame fans, you have your talking points. Read them over, memorize them, and then don’t burn a Triscuit’s worth of calories while destroying mini-Cooks the way ND destroyed Michigan (sucks!) last weekend.
Good Work, BJGator. Take a vacation with multiple exotic, dangerous women on a fabulous, nameless island on us. Just go easy on the AMEX Black card this time.