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Week 12 Update - with a side of Michigan-OSU


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Week 12 Update

Due to the Holiday Week and cramming 5 days of work into 3, we were a bit delayed.  We hope everyone had a relaxing Thanksgiving.  

Overall, week 12 produced a lot of surprising result ranging from Tennessee’s implosion to Florida losing to Vanderbilt to Michigan needing a game winning FG to remain unbeaten to Ohio State struggling defensively against a Maryland team that had only scored 10 points in its previous two games.  TCU’s battle with Baylor was somewhat more predictable.  That said, unlike other contenders, UGA’s lead in the second half never dipped below two scores. 

Between the winds and some leakage on defense, UGA produced a negative 3% relative YPP% against Kentucky.  The performance was dilutive to UGA’s resume, which combined with movements by UGA’s prior opponents, reduced UGA’s relative NYPP % from 41% to 37%.  In the broader context, the UK game probably wasn’t predictive of what we will see from UGA once the post season begins.  We don’t expect Tech to present a significant challenge this week.

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Net YPP and Relative Net YPP

Week 12 saw contraction at the top as both UGA and Ohio State shaved 0.25 ypp off their NYPP and relative NYPP.  Again, UGA still has gap over all others in relative NYPP against P5 competition.  Among contending teams, Michigan still has the biggest gap between its NYPP and relative NYPP.  Michigan plays Illinois and Ohio State the next two weeks, which should close that gap as its NYPP likely declines, and its relative NYPP improves.  That said, the gap tells us that among contending teams, Michigan’s NYPP is aided most by its schedule.

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Strength of Schedule Movements

As one might expect as the sample size grows, the weekly movement in Opponents Net YPP were not particularly significant.  As expected, based upon facing Illinois, Michigan’s opponents Net YPP improved and facing OSU will increase it further.  Georgia and LSU will see some dilution from Ga Tech and A&M. USC’s schedule will bump up based on Notre Dame.

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Combined

The same tiers remain. Both UGA and OSU declined a bit, but the gap between the two and next tier significant. 

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How do they do it?

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Georgia remains the most balanced team, with an equally good offense and defense. 

Michigan-OSU Preview

Having watched each team play either alongside or before UGA last week, I am stumped.  I tend to lean with consensus and Vegas, as Ohio St is at home, has been slightly more dominant against similar opponents, and is more two dimensional than Michigan.  That said, as a UGA fan, when I watch OSU, the following things standout to me.  First, they always seem to just be “going through” the motions.  I don’t sense hustle and urgency.  Second, though the defense has a few former 5-star recruits, the defensive front doesn’t look imposing, nor do they play physically overall.  Please save the JTT comments.  We know who he is.  Like Michigan, they have played a who’s who of terrible offenses in CFB.  Against P5 opponents, Maryland is the 47th ranked offense in YPP at the P5 level.  They just gained nearly 5.9 ypp against OSU.  For context, Kentucky, which is the 50th ranked offense on the same measure, and they gained 5.27 ypp in UGA’s sloppy performance. 

Of course, the focus on OSU is always on its offense.  Our general observation is similarly underwhelmed.  Yes, we know all the WRs are highly rated and will get drafted highly by the NFL, but we also know a lot of their production is volume related not efficiency related.  OSU doesn’t spread the ball around, which contributes to the buzz around their WRs.  The top 4 targets account for 80% and 85% of the targets and yards respectively.  In contrast, UGA’s top 4 pass catchers only account for 56% and 60%.  You must get all the way down to Dillon Bell, UGA’s 8th leading WR to account for similar numbers as OSU’s top 4.  One way or the other it hurts OSU.  If its simply because they don’t substitute at WR, that means guys are going to get tired.  If it means they tend to run the ball when Harrison, Egbuka, and Fleming are out of the game, that is going to be exploited.

As for the OSU running game, we remain underwhelmed.  Henderson is obviously a game breaker when healthy.  He hasn’t been nor has he ever shown out in a big moment.  Williams is a reliable grinder who is hurt, and they are left with a true frosh who performed well against Maryland.  Net net – this game is on Day, CJ Stroud and his OL protecting him.  It is up to Day and CJS to exploit Michigan’s zone pass coverage and force them into man—to-man situations.  It is on the OSU OL to give him time.  If they don’t do that, they face an uphill battle

On the other hand, everyone knows what Michigan wants to do offensively.  It is highly unlikely that Michigan produces a replay of 2021 efficiency running the ball.  The 2021 game remains as much a statistical oddity as anything.  Michigan ran for 7.2 ypc against OSU, which was 1 ypc higher than its high for the whole season against P5 competition.  Against its prior B10 opponents, it averaged 4.3 ypc.  As for the 2022 team, it has averaged a 1 ypc more than a year ago leading up to OSU in part due to a similar type of statistical anomaly once this season against Penn St, where it averaged 7.5 ypc.  I suppose one could argue that the PSU game showed Michigan at “full focus” but I tend to think it says more about Manny Diaz and James Franklin.

Michigan simply hasn’t demonstrated any success with vertical passing.  While we don’t have access to PFF data, we wouldn’t be surprised if McCarthy’s average depth of completion is among the lowest in CFB.  Maryland completed passes because of the cushion OSU DBs offered and had a .  One could make an argument that Maryland’s WRs are far more dangerous than Michigan’s, which is why they were given such big cushions.  In fact, Maryland has a long pass that was dropped that was nullified by an offensive holding call where their WR beat OSU’s DB on a vertical route. 

Red zone notes.  They cancel each other out on both sides of the ball.  OSU is bad a red zone defense and good on offense.  Michigan is the reverse

Our pick –  With the game at home and OSU being a little more two dimensional with greater potential for explosive plays, we like OSU here minus the points.  Further, if Michigan does have success repeating their performance on the ground, they will also need success pressuring Stroud.  We don’t think they will get both. On the other hand, if OSU is able to get a lead and force the game into McCarthy’s hands, the potential for it to get ugly is there.

 

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