Statisticology: B1G Championship - Run D vs Run O

O-H I-O's picture
December 3, 2013 at 9:11p
18 Comments

I am addicted to stats and there is no cure for it. Doctors believes I may have dyslexia and labeled me as a nucking fut and I was forced to report to Room 11W at the Nuthouse for my rehabilitation. Still seeing a blur of numbers and blurting out "I-O" randomly when there's nothing, but silence. May the odds of progress be ever at my favor...

Time for Statisticology!

I was able to gather the data on Ohio State and Michigan State's rushing stats for each down for all of their games played this season. I thought we can start out by analyzing how they perform on each down. I believe that this will be the most critical part in winning this game because both teams would want to be able to control the ball without turning the ball over. Everyone knows that three things can happen when you throw the ball, and two of them are bad: incompletion and interception.

Let's start off with OSU's vaunted rushing attack against the Spartans. On 1st downs, both teams ranks 4th nationally against each other and that tells us that it is going to be a slugfest right off the bat. Defenses wins championships, but a great rushing team can overcome that by doing just enough to wear down the defense. Excellent ball control and taking care of the ball will do the trick.

The Buckeyes holds a much bigger advantage when running on 2nd down. The math says that they're at their best when they run it on this down so they may want to take advantage of this because it shows that on 3rd down, the Spartans are amazing with stopping the run -- giving up only 0.29 yard per attempt. That ranks in #1 nationally by far.

4th down is kind of a crapshoot because it can vary wildly. It simply becomes a game of chess with both sides trying to decide on selling out against the run or play safe against the pass. I wouldn't put too much stock on this data.

All I have to say is that I am already salivating at this kind of match-up. That kind of stats is so exquisite to look at and I cannot wait to see how Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde will fare against this kind of test. Dontre Wilson, Jordan Hall, and Ezekiel Elliot should be excited to take on the challenge as well.

Now, let's move on to Ohio State's run defense against the Spartans. It seems to be more lopsided in Buckeyes' favor, but we have to consider that MSU runs at a slower pace than Ohio State does. That would buy the defense more time to organize and recognize the formations, which can impact MSU's yards per carry negatively. That's one thing that Ohio State does so well with their rushing offense because they can play at an incredible tempo, catching the defense out of position and disorganized (as you saw in The Game).

The Spartans seem to love running on 1st down like OSU, but there is one big difference that pops out -- long runs. They nearly have half as many as Ohio State in this category. That tells us that they don't really have that kind of breakaway speed to make big plays in a hurry, but they can be lethal with ground and pound scheme under MSU OC, Jim Bollman -- if they can succeed with that against the Silver Bullets. Ohio State would want the ball more often to put up points on the board and wear down the frontline of Spartans' defense, but MSU could offset that by being patient and try to turn their rushing offense into their best defense against the Buckeyes.  Fortunately, it seems like Ohio State can be efficient at stopping the run to force the pass and force incompletions to stop the clock and buy more time for the Miller & Hyde Show on turf.

As the stats show, I do not see any evidence of why Michigan State would beat Ohio State into a submission with their rushing game. They would need to pass the ball or run screen plays to move the chains or they would be giving up more possessions to the Buckeyes, which is the last thing MSU Head Coach, Mark Dantonio, would want to do.

The next blog post will be focused on both teams' pass offense and pass defense since that's another half of the battle, which would be in Michigan State's favor. It should be interesting to see how Ohio State's pass defense would fare since we all saw how they struggled against the air for most of the season. Stats doesn't always predict the outcome -- just take a grain of salt with it since there are many outliers in life.

Here's to the next one...

O-H!

Comments

1MechEng's picture

-I-O!
Love the statistical breakdown! Thanks for all of the effort you put into this. I'm really looking forward to part 2 ...

O-H I-O's picture

It'll be up and ready tomorrow evening.

"I don't motivate the players. I get them to motivate themselves. That's the only kind of motivation that's worth a damn." - Woody Hayes

danmas's picture

Does the third down efficiency of the MSU defense include sack yardage... which is normally a run statistic for some dumb reason...?  That would skew the results enormously.

O-H I-O's picture

Yes, the stats above includes sacks since that counts against rushing yards. However, Michigan State is #1 it comes to stopping the run on 3rd down, 1-3 yards to go. In that situation, Michigan State allowed 19 yards on 19 attempts, which averages out to 1 yards per carry.
Ohio State (#19) allowed 65 yards on 30 attempts, which averages out to 2.17 yards per carry.

"I don't motivate the players. I get them to motivate themselves. That's the only kind of motivation that's worth a damn." - Woody Hayes

FitzBuck's picture

Look at the runs of 20 yards or more.  OSU huge favorite.  

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

Maestro's picture

Awesome breakdown.  OSU is #1 in yards per carry in the country and MSU is #1 in yards per carry against.  Epic match up.  Strength vs. Strength.  All that stuff.

vacuuming sucks

Seth4Bucks's picture

Awesome work, thanks!
Just curious who had the 2nd best D against the run on 3rd down and what'd they give up on average per attempt?

O-H I-O's picture

#2 - Oklahoma (1.11 YPC allowed against 53 carries)
#3 - Ohio State (1.16 against 70 carries)
#4 - Missouri (1.24 against 63 carries)
#5 - Maryland (1.27 against 78 carries)
Imagine if it was 3rd down and 1 or 3rd down and 2.  That's where Michigan State could really excel since they're the only team that allows less than 1 yard per carry on 3rd downs. Ohio State would need to be able to break through The Great Wall when it comes to 3rd downs.

"I don't motivate the players. I get them to motivate themselves. That's the only kind of motivation that's worth a damn." - Woody Hayes

OSUBias's picture

Someone mentioned above, and I'm nearly certain they're right: the third down rushing statistics are skewed by negative sack yardage for both of us. Really all of the data is, but it's most prevalent on 3rd down. Especially with an aggressive defense like MSU plays, I bet 60-70% of their sacks come on 3rd down on 5 or 7 step drops.

Shitter's full

O-H I-O's picture

I don't argue with that.  That's why I said 3rd and 1 or 3rd and 2 situations.  It seems like Michigan State is very polished when it comes to stopping the run on 3rd down, 1-3 yards to go. In that situation, Michigan State is still #1 with allowing 19 yards on 19 attempts, which averages out to 1 yards per carry.
Ohio State is at #19, allowing 65 yards on 30 attempts, which averages out to 2.17 yards per carry. Not too shabby.

"I don't motivate the players. I get them to motivate themselves. That's the only kind of motivation that's worth a damn." - Woody Hayes

branz's picture

"The Buckeyes holds a much bigger advantage when running on 2nd down. The math says that they're at their best when they run it on this down"
I'd like to know if this is due to Ohio State being in favorable 2nd down situations (i.e. 2nd and short yardage) allowing them to have the whole playbook at their disposal.

O-H I-O's picture

That is a possibility. Ohio State may have the best QB/HB combo in the nation and they can be quite lethal on 2nd down and short. The opponent's defense may have to play soft to prevent big plays in this situation since Ohio State is going to be pretty tough to stop when they run on 2nd and short.

"I don't motivate the players. I get them to motivate themselves. That's the only kind of motivation that's worth a damn." - Woody Hayes

BloomingtonBuckeye's picture

Remembering 1998 is getting me rattled. So I did a little research to settle the nerves. Below is a list comparing Ohio State's opponent ranking in total defense and MSU's opponent ranking in total offense. I excluded FAMU from Ohio State's statistics and YSU from MSU's statistics.   
Ohio State vs Opp Ranked Def (avg ypg)       MSU vs Opp Ranked Off (avg ypg)
Buffalo: 43rd (376)                                          Minnesota: 105th (342)
SDSU: 55th (392)                                            Northwestern: 73rd (399)
California: 122nd (529)                                     Nebraska: 60th (421)
Wisconsin: 6th (294)                                       *ichigan: 82nd (382)
Northwestern: 89th (423)                                Illinois: 52nd (426)
Iowa: 9th (303)                                              Purdue: 119th (282)
Penn St: 49th (380)                                        Indiana: 11th (508)
Purdue: 104th (459)                                        Iowa: 80th (389)
Indiana: 121st (527)                                       Notre Dame: 75th (398)
Illinois: 110th (481)                                         S. Florida: 121st (266)
*ichigan: 39th (367)                                       W. Michigan: 110 (327)
All said, we've played 5 teams that have defenses that are ranked in the top 50 in total defense. (and 6 if you look at the top 60!). MSU has played 1 team that registers in the top 50 in total offense. The point? We have shown that we are able to score against good defenses, and the game on Saturday night should be no different.
Also, first post. Finally feel like I have something worthwhile to contribute.
http://www.ncaa.com/stats/football/fbs/current/team/22/p2
 

In every battle there comes a time when both sides consider themselves beaten, then he who continues the attack wins. - Ulysses S. Grant

O-H I-O's picture

I'm still surprised how Michigan State lost to Notre Dame, despite playing against their 75th ranked offense. Those pass inference penalties have killed the Spartans, it seems.

"I don't motivate the players. I get them to motivate themselves. That's the only kind of motivation that's worth a damn." - Woody Hayes

WC Buckeye's picture

That is a dandy first effort. +1 for you!

The only thing that's new in the world is the history that we have forgotten.

GoBucksToledo's picture

Thanks, this analysis was great!
It motivated me to look into MSU's defense a bit more and compare it to OSU's relative offensive performance over the course of the year.
Here is the average rank of MSU's opponents' (Strength of schedule = 52) offense compared to OSU's (Strength of schedule = 53):
                             MSU Opp Rank                        OSU Rank                   MSU Rank
Total Offense                 78                                        6                              83
Pass Offense                  76                                       81                              95
Run Offense                   73                                        1                              47
What this says to me is that MSU has not played a lot of offensive powerhouses to date, Indiana is the highest in all categories - #11 Total Offense, #16 Pass Offense and #31 Rush Offense.  On average, their schedule is lower middle of the pack (123 teams).  It also says that MSU does not have a powerhouse offense either with their run game the jewel of their offense - who would believe it with all those Dave plays!  Shutting down the run and forcing them to pass would be a definite advantage for us, but I guess that's stating the obvious.
Numbers can tell you a lot but I think that, for this game, these stats may be a bit misleading, even though "on paper" we should do pretty well.  I think we win this game but I don't see it being a blowout but would be delighted if it was.
Go Bucks! 

CGroverL's picture

You wrote "Shutting down the run and forcing them to pass would be a definite advantage for us, but I guess that's stating the obvious"......
It is stating the obvious but it is hardly ever mentioned because of Ohio State's so-called dismal pass defense. I don't see Ohio State's pass defense as that bad. They average close to 90th in passing yards surrendered but the difference in 90th and 25th in that stat (and this is just an educated guess) is somewhere between 30-50 yards per game on average. So...it is sort of safe to say that the Buckeye defense is content on giving up an extra 50 yards per game through the air in order to be one of the absolute best rush defenses in the country. THAT IS IMPORTANT. The Bucks' D may be weak against the pass to an extent, but they can be much better on a short field (in the red zone) where they can kill their opponents' run games and still stop the pass to the point of causing turnovers or forcing field goals.
You were stating the obvious, but you were stating what the Buckeyes have done for about 18 straight games now.....and since the Buckeyes started playing this brand of defense, they are the ONLY team to not be upset. What you mentioned IS WHAT IS HAPPENING, and it is the reason why the Buckeyes are the ONLY SQUAD that hasn't been upset. All teams take an upset here and there, but not the Buckeyes. Your "obvious" statement is NOT SAID ENOUGH, and in my opinion it is the #1 reason why the Buckeyes are not only among the top 2 teams in the nation, I believe them to be the nation's best team....and I believe this is going on due to a Buckeye offense that is nearly unstoppable and their defense turns EVERY OPPONENT INTO A ONE-DIMENSIONAL OFFENSE.......for those reasons, Ohio State has not been upset and they are the best team in the country as well. For some reason, no one sees it that way even though all teams take an upset loss and Ohio State is the only team NOT to take an upset loss in the last 24 games... Sometimes you have to look at the results and state the obvious reasons why those results are that way. In our current time, though...the media is SEC dominant and is going to give reason's like luck, strength of schedule, and playing in a weak conference while scheduling soft out-of-conference opponents as the reasons for the results. The media needs to look at the simple reasons for the Buckeyes' 24 game winning streak... The simple reason for their 24 game winning streak....?
The Buckeyes are among the best teams of all-time. This is the first time I have ever said that, but the Miami Hurricanes were called one of the best teams of all-time during a winning streak of 34 games (which was brought to an end by the 2002 national champion Buckeyes). What real reasons are there to say that these 24 straight win Buckeyes are not better than those Hurricanes? At the least, they ARE IN THE SAME LEAGUE with that Miami team...With Miller returning, I can see this team with a 30+ game winning streak easily.
I apologize for the length, but this Urban Meyer lad team STILL has not lost. When you win 24 games straight, a question should surface....That question is "When will this team finally lose a game?" No one is asking that question. In fact, everyone is going out of their way to say that the Buckeyes aren't even worthy of a #2 ranking even though they opened up the rankings at #2, watched the #1 team fall, and STILL HAVE NOT LOST YET and the #1 team has been replaced as the pollsters have found every reason there could possibly be to have teams like Baylor, Florida State, Clemson, and now Auburn be BETTER than Ohio State......... The simple and most logical reason is normally the correct one. It's too bad everyone hates Ohio State enough to CHEAT them out of what they DESERVE.
WHAT A SHAM!!!
RANT OVER! Sorry if you disagree...

"I hope they're last in everything"

Thanks, Urb!

O-H I-O's picture

You made several good points. It is true that 50-60 extra passing yards given up on average is worth the tradeoff for better rushing defense.  Many teams would kill to be able to stop the run because that's the hardest part of football game, especially against teams that is balanced and loves to run when they get a lead.
I'll take a good run defense any day.
Urban Meyer is doing his job and is beating every team that have came up on the schedule and managed to avoid upsets. Most teams are unable to do that, despite having a favorable schedule...like Oregon against Arizona and Stanford against Utah, which is only a couple of examples.

"I don't motivate the players. I get them to motivate themselves. That's the only kind of motivation that's worth a damn." - Woody Hayes