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Posts Tagged ‘Wisconsin’

Big Ten power rankings 2016 — Week 8

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016


power-rankings_header

Each Wednesday throughout the season we will release our Big Ten power rankings. These are voted on individually by the five members of our staff and then each team’s ranking is averaged to reach our power rankings. As these are simply power rankings, they are based on each team’s performance to date, not what happened last season or what will happen in the future.

Previous: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7

week-8-power-rankings*Black dash signifies previous week’s ranking

Big Ten power rankings – Week 8
Team Up/Dn Last Week This Week
1. Michigan (7-0, 4-0) Up 1 Beat Illinois 41-8 Sat. at MSU (2-5, 0-4), 12pm, ESPN
2. Ohio State (6-1, 3-1) Down 1 Lost at PSU 21-24 Sat. vs N’western (4-3, 3-1), 3:30pm, ESPN
3. Wisconsin (5-2, 2-2) Up 1 Beat Iowa 17-9 Sat. vs #7 Nebraska (7-0, 4-0), 7pm, ESPN
4. Nebraska (7-0, 4-0) Down 1 Beat Purdue 27-14 Sat. at #11 Wisconsin (5-2, 2-2), 7pm, ESPN
5. Penn State (5-2, 3-1) Even Beat #2 OSU 24-21 Sat. at Purdue (3-4, 1-3), 12pm, ABC
6. Iowa (5-3, 3-2) Even Lost to #10 Wisc. 9-17 Bye
7. Northwestern (4-3, 3-1) Up 2 Beat Indiana 24-14 Sat. at #6 Ohio State (6-1, 3-1), 3:30pm, ESPN
8. Maryland (5-2, 2-2) Up 2 Beat MSU 28-17 Sat. at Indiana (3-4, 1-3), 3:30pm, ESPNU
9. Minnesota (5-2, 2-2) Down 2 Beat Rutgers 34-32 Sat at Illinois (2-5, 1-3), 12pm, BTN
10. Indiana (3-4, 1-3) Down 2 Lost to N’western 14-24 Sat. vs Maryland (5-2, 2-2), 3:30pm, ESPNU
11. Michigan State (2-5, 0-4) Even Lost to Maryland 17-28 Sat vs #2 Michigan (7-0, 4-0), 12pm, ESPN
12. Illinois (2-5, 1-3) Even Lost to #3 Michigan 8-41 Sat vs Minnesota (5-2, 2-2), 12pm, BTN
13. Purdue (3-4, 1-3) Even Lost to #8 Neb. 14-27 Sat. vs #24 Penn State (5-2, 3-2), 12pm, ABC
14. Rutgers (2-6, 0-5) Even Lost to Minnesota 32-34 Bye

For the first time this season Michigan has surpassed Ohio State for the No. 1 spot in our power rankings. After Ohio State’s 24-21 loss to Penn State, Michigan gained all five first place votes, while Ohio State slipped to a 2.4 average with just three of the five second place votes. Wisconsin’s quality win at Iowa pulled them over Nebraska, solidly in the third spot, while Nebraska sits at 3.8. Penn State remains fifth, but gained a full point, moving from 5.8 to 4.8.

There’s a big two-point gap after the Nittany Lions, where Iowa and Northwestern are tied for the six and seven spots at 6.8. Maryland is close by at 7.6 after handing Michigan State its fifth straight loss. Minnesota and Indiana both dropped two spots to nine and 10, while Michigan State remains 11th but dropped another 0.8 spots on average to 11.6. The bottom three remain the same with Illinois and Purdue tied at 12.2 and Rutgers still holding all last-place votes.

Week 9 will separate Wisconsin and Nebraska, who have been neck and neck in our power rankings all season. They face each other in Madison on Saturday as Wisconsin tries to hang in the Big Ten West race and Nebraska tries to stay in the College Football Playoff race.

 

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Big Ten power rankings 2016 – Week 7

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016


power-rankings_header

Each Wednesday throughout the season we will release our Big Ten power rankings. These are voted on individually by the five members of our staff and then each team’s ranking is averaged to reach our power rankings. As these are simply power rankings, they are based on each team’s performance to date, not what happened last season or what will happen in the future.

Previous: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6

 

week-7-power-rankings*Black dash signifies previous week’s ranking

Big Ten power rankings – Week 7
Team Up/Dn Last Week This Week
1. Ohio State (6-0, 3-0) Even Beat #8 Wisconsin 30-23 Sat. at Penn State (4-2, 2-1), 8pm, ABC
2. Michigan (6-0, 3-0) Even Bye Sat. vs Illinois (2-4, 1-2), 3:30pm, BTN
3. Nebraska (6-0, 3-0) Even Beat Indiana 27-22 Sat. vs Purdue (3-3, 1-2), 3:30pm, ABC
4. Wisconsin (4-2, 1-2) Even Lost to #2 OSU 23-30 Sat. at Iowa (5-2, 3-1), 12pm, ESPN
5. Penn State (4-2, 2-1) Even Bye Sat. vs #2 Ohio St. (6-0, 3-0), 8pm, ABC
6. Iowa (5-2, 3-1) Up 2 Beat Purdue 49-35 Sat. vs #10 Wisc. (4-2, 1-2), 12pm, ESPN
7. Minnesota (4-2, 1-2) Up 2 Beat Maryland 31-10 Sat. vs Rutgers (2-5, 0-4), 12pm, ESPNU
8. Indiana (3-3, 1-2) Down 1 Lost to #10 Nebraska 22-27 Sat. at N’western (3-3, 2-1), 12pm, BTN
9. Northwestern (3-3, 2-1) Up 2 Beat MSU 54-40 Sat vs Indiana (3-3, 1-2), 12pm, BTN
10. Maryland (4-2, 1-2) Down 4 Lost to Minnesota 10-31 Sat. vs MSU (2-4, 0-3), 7:30pm, BTN
11. Michigan State (2-4, 0-3) Down 1 Lost to Northwestern 40-54 Sat at Maryland (4-2, 1-2), 7:30pm, BTN
12. Illinois (2-4, 1-2) Up 1 Beat Rutgers 24-7 Sat at #3 Michigan (6-0, 3-0), 3:30pm, BTN
13. Purdue (3-3, 1-2) Down 1 Lost to Iowa 35-49 Sat. at #8 Nebraska (6-0, 3-0), 3:30pm, ABC
14. Rutgers (2-5, 0-4) Even Lost to Illinois 7-24 Sat. at Minnesota (4-2, 1-2), 12pm, ESPNU

The top four remain exactly the same as last week with Ohio State at 1.2, Michigan 1.8, Nebraska 3.4, and Wisconsin 3.6, while Penn State remains fifth, but slips from 5.2 to 5.8. That means Michigan has received one first place vote, while two of the five of us believe Wisconsin should still be higher than Nebraska despite a pair of losses to Michigan and Ohio State. We will find out a lot more about Nebraska in the next three weeks when they visit both Wisconsin and Ohio State. Penn State, meanwhile, hosts Ohio State this Saturday.

Iowa, Minnesota, and Northwestern each move up two spots after wins over Purdue, Maryland, and Michigan State, respectively. Indian drops once spot to eighth after a close loss to Nebraska, while Maryland takes the biggest tumble of the week following a three touchdown loss to Minnesota. Michigan State continues its descent, dropping for the fourth straight week, all the way to 11th. Finally, Illinois and Purdue swap spots and Rutgers remains at the bottom. Both Illinois and Purdue face tough road games against top 10 opponents, Michigan and Nebraska, so Rutgers has a chance to move out of the basement with a win over Minnesota.

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Big Ten power rankings 2016 – Week 6

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016


power-rankings_header

Each Wednesday throughout the season we will release our Big Ten power rankings. These are voted on individually by the five members of our staff and then each team’s ranking is averaged to reach our power rankings. As these are simply power rankings, they are based on each team’s performance to date, not what happened last season or what will happen in the future.

Previous: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5

week-6-power-rankings

*Black dash signifies previous week’s ranking

Big Ten power rankings – Week 6
Team Up/Dn Last Week This Week
1. Ohio State (5-0, 2-0) Even Beat Indiana 38-17 Sat. at #8 Wisconsin (4-1, 1-1), 8pm, ABC
2. Michigan (6-0, 3-0) Even Beat Rutgers 78-0 Bye
3. Nebraska (5-0, 2-0) Up 1 Bye Sat. at Indiana (3-2, 1-1), 3:30pm, ABC
4. Wisconsin (4-1, 1-1) Down 1 Bye Sat. vs #2 Ohio State (5-0, 2-0), 8pm, ABC
5. Penn State (4-2, 2-1) Up 4 Beat Maryland 38-14 Bye
6. Maryland (4-1, 1-1) Down 1 Lost to PSU 14-38 Sat. vs Minnesota (3-2, 0-1), 12pm, ESPNU
7. Indiana (3-2, 1-1) Down 1 Lost to #2 OSU 17-38 Sat. vs #10 Nebraska (5-0, 2-0), 3:30pm, ABC
8. Iowa (4-2, 2-1) Up 2 Beat Minnesota 14-7 Sat. at Purdue (3-2, 1-1), 12pm, ESPN2
9. Minnesota (3-2, 0-1) Down 1 Lost to Iowa 7-14 Sat at Maryland (4-1, 1-1), 12pm, ESPNU
10. Michigan State (2-3, 0-2) Down 3 Lost to BYU 14-31 Sat. vs Northwestern (2-3, 1-1), 3:30pm, BTN
11. Northwestern (2-3, 1-1) Even Bye Sat at MSU (2-3, 0-2), 3:30pm, BTN
12. Purdue (3-2, 1-1) Up 2 Beat Illinois 34-31 Sat. vs Iowa (4-2, 2-1), 12pm, ESPN2
13. Illinois (1-4, 0-2) Down 1 Lost to Purdue 31-34 Sat. at Rutgers (2-4, 0-3), 12pm, ESPNN
14. Rutgers (2-4, 0-3) Down 1 Lost to #4 Michigan 0-78 Sat. at vs Illinois (2-3, 0-2), 12pm, ESPNN

Yet again Ohio State and Michigan hold the top two spots, but for the first time this season Michigan received a first place vote. Wisconsin and Nebraska remain three and four, though they swapped spots during their bye weeks. Penn State made the biggest jump of the week, moving up five spots after topping Maryland. Maryland, Indiana, and Iowa are clustered together in the next wave, while Michigan State continues its slide all the way to the 10th spot this week after losing big to BYU. The Spartans rank higher than only Northwestern, Purdue, Illinois, and Rutgers. The latter two battle each other for the cellar this Saturday.

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The numbers game: U-M offense maintains big play pace versus tough Wisconsin D

Thursday, October 6th, 2016


darboh-vs-wisconsin(MGoBlue.com)

Previously: Is Don Brown’s defense high-risk? The numbers say noMichigan’s Harbaughfense will be more explosive in Year 2, Run game makes big plays in Week 1, While UCF loaded the box Michigan went to the air for big plays, Michigan offense doubles 2015 big play pace through 3 weeks, UM’s smothering defense narrows gap between 2015 D’s big play pace

Last week turned out to be much more of a defensive battle than we here at Maize and Go Blue thought it would be. But Michigan got the win and it wasn’t as close as the score might say. Let’s see what the explosive play numbers looked like.

On offense, perhaps surprisingly, Michigan had nine total big plays — five big run plays and four big pass plays. I know it might not seem like that was the case given the pace of the game but I went back and watched the game and they indeed had nine big plays last week. That’s still down two from their season average coming in (11.25) but right about where I thought they’d end up. However, I think I might change my prediction (they might average around 11 big plays per game) but I’ll wait to see what happens over the next couple of weeks.

So far this season, through five games Michigan is averaging seven big run plays (25th nationally) and 3.8 big pass plays (42nd) for a total of 10.8 big plays per game (20th) with a big play percentage of 14.52 percent (30th). Their big play differential is 4.95 percent (23rd) and their total toxic differential is 31, good for 7th on a per game basis.

Through five games the 2015 team averaged 4.2 big run plays and 2.6 big pass plays, for a total of 6.8 big plays per game with a 9.47 percent big play percentage. Their big play differential was a paltry 1.73 percent and their toxic differential was just nine. Based on this year’s numbers that would put them around the high 50s or low 60s nationally for both big play differential and toxic differential. Michigan has improved their offense by leaps and bounds in Year 2 under Harbaugh.

Michigan offense – 2015 vs 2016 first five weeks comparison
Year Big Run Plays Big Pass Plays Total Big Plays Big Play % Big Play Diff Toxic Diff
2016 35 19 54 14.52% 4.95% 31
2015 21 13 34 9.47% 1.73% 9
Michigan defense – 2015 vs 2016 averages through five weeks
Year Big Run Plays/gm Big Pass Plays/gm Total Big Plays/gm Big Play % Big Play Diff Toxic Diff
2016 4.20 1.60 5.80 9.57% 4.95% 31
2015 3.60 1.00 4.60 7.74% 1.73% 9

On defense, Michigan only surrendered five big plays on Saturday — three run and two pass. In case you forgot, or this is your first time here, anything under six big plays given up per game is an elite defense.

Adding those numbers into the season totals and we see that Michigan is giving up 4.2 big run plays per game (47th) and 1.6 big pass plays (4th) for a total of 5.8 big plays per game (18th), with a big play against percentage of 9.57 percent (35th).

Contrast those numbers against last year’s team through five games: 3.6 big run plays given up and one big pass play for a total of 4.6 big plays given up with a big play against percentage of 7.74 percent. They were better in every big play against metric than this year’s team. But, as I mentioned last week, these numbers still put them in elite defense categories and the tackles for loss and sacks are on pace to blow the 2015 numbers out of the water.

Keep in mind that the 2015 did not keep up their breakneck pace on defense either. Season long, the Wolverines gave up an average of 4.8 big run plays per game and 2.4 big pass plays per game, good for 56th and 13th nationally. Based on total number of plays Michigan gave up a big play 11.49 percent of the time, which ranked 59th nationally. All told, Michigan gave up 7.2 big plays per game, good for 25th nationally. That’s impressive for sure, but they were not able to sustain their early season pace as the competition got tougher. I don’t think that will be the case with this year’s team. I’m on record saying this team should give up around six big plays per game over the course of the season, and I’m sticking with that.

Michigan’s Week 5 big plays
Quarter Down & Distance Player Yards Gained Run/Pass
1 2nd and 8 Wilton Speight to Jake Butt 23 Pass
1 2nd and 4 Chris Evans 22 Run
2 2nd and 10 Wilton Speight to Grant Perry 20 Pass
3 2nd and 10 Wilton Speight to Jehu Chesson 24 Pass
3 2nd and 5 De’Veon Smith 13 Run
3 1st and 10 De’Veon Smith 16 Run
3 1st and 10 Ty Isaac 10 Run
4 1st and 10 Ty Isaac 13 Run
4 1st and 10 Wilton Speight to Amara Darboh 46 (TD) Pass
Wisconsin’s Week 5 big plays
1 3rd and 7 Alex Hornibrook to Robert Wheelwright 24 Pass
1 1st and 10 Corey Clement 10 Run
2 3rd and 3 Alex Hornibrook to Robert Wheelwright 20 Pass
2 1st and 10 Jazz Peavy 17 Run
4 1st and 10 Corey Clement 10 Run

Since I tossed them in last week, and mentioned them again this week I think it’d be good to continue to look at tackles for loss and sacks as an added stat of interest and further proof of Don Brown’s defensive genius. Unfortunately, I do not have game by game numbers for tackles for loss and sacks so for now we’ll just compare the 2015 totals and how this year’s team would stack up if they continue on their current pace.

To refresh your memory, last year Michigan had 88 tackles for loss (6.77 per game) and 32 sacks (2.46 per game). On a per game basis, those numbers were good for 42nd for TFLs and 32nd for sacks. Through five games this year Michigan has 46 tackles for loss (9.2 per game) — 4th and 6th, respectively — and 19 sacks (3.8/g), also 4th and 6th best respectively. Both massive improvements a direct result of Don Brown’s new defense. I know Marcus Ray won’t agree but if Michigan keeps up this pace we may be talking about the 2016 team as one the greatest Michigan defenses of all-time.

Before the bye week we’re going to add in some new stuff to aid in our discussion of explosive plays and to reinforce the football genius of Jim Harbaugh and Don Brown. However, apparently Rutgers is an actual school and they do indeed field what I’m told is a ‘football’ team so this week does not count as bye week. All kidding aside, Chris Ash is a good coach and should eventually have Rutgers looking respectable. Just not by Saturday night.

Let’s take a look at the Scarlet Knights’ numbers through five weeks. Spoiler alert: 2016 Rutgers is bad and they should feel bad. Michigan’s new ‘rival’ to the East is a bad football team and their explosive play/toxic differential numbers confirm that.

Michigan & Rutgers offense comparison
Year Big Run Plays Big Pass Plays Total Big Plays Big Play % Big Play Diff Toxic Diff
UM Off. 35 19 54 14.52% 4.95% 31
RU Off. 27 9 36 10.08% -4.36% -16
Michigan & Rutgers defense comparison
Year Big Run Plays Big Pass Plays Total Big Plays Big Play % Big Play Diff Toxic Diff
UM Def. 21 8 29 9.57% 4.95% 31
RU Def. 38 15 51 14.45% -4.36% -16

On offense, Rutgers averages a middling 5.4 big run plays per game (59th) and a less than stellar 1.8 big pass plays (118th) for an incredibly shameful 7.2 total big plays per game (106th). Their big play percentage is 10.08 percent (105th), their big play differential is an unsurprising -4.36 percent (117th), and their total toxic differential is -16 — good for 112th on a per game basis.

The line is set around minus-28 right now. I don’t see any reason why Michigan won’t win by at least four touchdowns and I’m pretty sure my weekly staff prediction is going to say we’re on shutout watch. Hooray for new rivalry games!

Big Ten power rankings 2016 – Week 5

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016


power-rankings_header

Each Wednesday throughout the season we will release our Big Ten power rankings. These are voted on individually by the five members of our staff and then each team’s ranking is averaged to reach our power rankings. As these are simply power rankings, they are based on each team’s performance to date, not what happened last season or what will happen in the future.

Previous: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4

week-5-power-rankings

*Black dash signifies previous week’s ranking

Big Ten power rankings – Week 5
Team Up/Dn Last Week This Week
1. Ohio State (4-0, 1-0) Even Beat Rutgers 58-0 Sat. vs Indiana (3-1, 1-0), 3:30pm, ESPN
2. Michigan (5-0, 2-0) Even Beat #8 Wisconsin 14-7 Sat. at Rutgers (2-3, 0-2), 7pm, ESPN2
3. Wisconsin (4-1, 1-1) Even Lost to #4 Michigan (7-14) Bye
4. Nebraska (5-0, 2-0) Even Beat Illinois 31-16 Bye
5. Maryland (4-0, 1-0) Up 3 Beat Purdue 50-7 Sat. at Penn State (3-2, 1-1), 12pm, BTN
6. Indiana (3-1, 1-0) Up 3 Beat #17 MSU 24-21 OT Sat. at #2 OSU (4-0, 1-0), 3:30pm, ESPN
7. Michigan State (2-2, 0-2) Down 2 Lost to Indiana 21-24 OT Sat. vs BYU (2-3), 3:30pm
8. Minnesota (3-1, 0-1) Down 2 Lost to Penn State 26-29 Sat. vs Iowa (3-2, 1-1), 12pm, ESPN2
9. Penn State (3-2, 1-1) Up 1 Beat Minnesota 29-26 Sat vs Maryland (4-0, 1-0), 12pm, BTN
10. Iowa (3-2, 1-1) Down 3 Lost to Northwestern 31-38 Sat. 16 Minnesota (3-1, 0-1), 12pm, ESPN2
11. Northwestern (2-3, 1-1) Up 2 Beat Iowa 38-31 Bye
12. Illinois (1-3, 0-1) Up 2 Lost to #16 Nebraska 16-31 Sat. vs Purdue (2-2, 0-1), 3:30pm, BTN
13. Rutgers (2-3, 0-2) Down 1 Lost to #2 Ohio State 0-58 Sat. vs #4 Michigan (5-0, 2-0), 7pm, ESPN2
14. Purdue (2-2, 0-1) Down 3 Lost to Maryland 7-50 Sat. at Illinois (1-3, 0-1), 3:30pm, BTN

Ohio State and Michigan have held the top two spots all five weeks to date. Wisconsin and Nebraska remained unanimously No. 3 and 4 despite Wisconsin’s loss to Michigan and Nebraska’s still perfect record. Maryland and Indiana are the biggest climbers, each jumping three spots after dominating Purdue and knocking off Michigan State, respectively. The Spartans drop two spots to seventh after losing at IU. Iowa falls three spots after a home loss to Northwestern, who moves up two spots to No. 11. There’s a pretty steep drop off between the No. 11 and 12 spots as Illinois, Rutgers, and Purdue round out the rankings.

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Five-Spot Challenge 2016: Rutgers

Monday, October 3rd, 2016


Congratulations to Jaeschke for winning last week’s Five-Spot Challenge, narrowly keeping JD Mackiewicz from winning back-to-back weeks. Jaeschke’s deviation of 71.8 was just 1.3 better than JD’s 73.1. Jaeschke was no worse than 20 away from the correct answer to any question. He was third closest to Alex Hornibrook’s passing yards (88, 20 away), second closest to the minutes it would take Michigan to score 20 points — which they didn’t — (60, 12 away), and fifth closest to Jabrill Peppers’ longest punt return (13 yards, five away). He wins a prize box of product from our sponsors, Lane’s BBQCultivate Coffee & Tap House, andChayder Grilling Company.

Saline_ian, Sistersueblue, and TheZachster were all just one away from the yards Wisconsin would gain on its first possession (22). JD Mackiewicz’s prediction of 121 was just 3.1 away from Wilton Speight’s quarterback rating of 124.1. Kashkaav was right on the mark with Hornibrook’s 88 passing yards. MEKMichigan was the only one within single digits of the minutes until Michigan scored 20 points (five away). And Freezer566 correctly predicted Peppers’ longest return.

No one correctly predicted the final score. In fact, no one thought Michigan would score fewer than three touchdowns. TheZachster was the closest with his prediction of Michigan 21 – Wisconsin 14. All 31 contestants picked Michigan to win by an average score of Michigan 33 – Wisconsin 18. BigHouseBrandon correctly predicted Wisconsin’s total of seven points.

The weekly results and season standings have been updated.

Michigan hits the road for the first time this season this Saturday at Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights rank last in the Big Ten in most offensive and defensive categories. Here are this week’s questions.

#4 Michigan 14 – #8 Wisconsin 7: Just enough

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016


um-vs-wisconsin-by-bryan-fuller(Bryan Fuller)

It was ugly at times. It was sloppy at times. It got tense at times. But Michigan did what good teams do. Despite three missed field goals the Wolverines ground out a 14-7 win over 8th-ranked Wisconsin to remain perfect on the season.

After averaging 52 points per game through the first four weeks of the season, Michigan’s offense had trouble putting points on the board against the nation’s 7th-best scoring defense. But it was Michigan’s own defense that rose to the occasion and shut down Wisconsin’s offense, holding the Badgers to just 159 total yards — their fewest in at least 13 years.

The Wolverines recorded two sacks, but bottled up Wisconsin’s running game to the tune of 2.5 yards per carry and kept quarterback Alex Hornibrook under pressure all afternoon. The freshman who shined in a 30-6 win over Michigan State a week prior went just 9-of-25 for 88 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.

um-wisconsin_small-final
Final Stats
Michigan Wisconsin
Score 14 7
Record 5-0, 2-0 4-1, 1-1
Total Yards 349 159
Net Rushing Yards 326 70
Net Passing Yards 130 71
First Downs 21 8
Turnovers 1 3
Penalties-Yards 6-45 3-30
Punts-Yards 7-326 9-321
Time of Possession 35:41 24:19
Third Down Conversions 3-of-15 4-of-15
Fourth Down Conversions 0-of-0 0-of-1
Sacks By-Yards 2-13 4-32
Field Goals 0-for-3 0-for-0
PATs 2-for-2 1-for-1
Red Zone Scores-Chances 1-of-3 1-of-1
Red Zone Scores-TDs 1-of-3 1-of-1
Full Box Score

Michigan moved the ball well in the first quarter with 108 total yards on 15 plays and scored the first points of the game on the first play of the second quarter. They also reached the Wisconsin 13 on the next possession before the drive stalled, but Kenny Allen missed a 31-yard field goal. He missed a 45-yarder on Michigan’s next possession and Michigan took a 7-0 lead into the half.

Michigan opened the second half with a promising drive, but it ended with the first interception Wilton Speight has thrown since his first pass of the season. Wisconsin capitalized with a 31-yard touchdown drive to tie the game. But Michigan’s defense clamped down the rest of the way, yielding just 34 yards on Wisconsin’s final six possessions — just 1.9 yards per play.

Michigan broke the deadlock with a 46-yard touchdown pass from Speight to Amara Darboh with just under eight minutes remaining. Three Wisconsin possessions later, Jourdan Lewis sealed the game with a spectacular one-handed interception.

The Michigan offense amassed 349 yards of offense, the most Wisconsin’s defense has allowed so far this season. Speight went 20-of-32 for 219 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. De’Veon Smith led Michigan with with 66 yards on 17 carries, while Ty Isaac and Chris Evans each got eight carries and went for 48 and 34 yards, respectively. Darboh caught six passes for 87 yards and the touchdown.

Defensively, Michigan held Wisconsin to its worst offensive performance of the season by far. The Badgers’ previous worst was 317 yards against Michigan State last week and Michigan held them to half of that. Corey Clement rushed for 66 yards on 17 carries and Wisconsin converted just 4-of-15 third-downs.

Michigan (5-0, 2-0) hits the road for the first time this season for a primetime tilt with Rutgers (2-3, 0-2) next Saturday. The Scarlet Knights lost 58-0 to Ohio State on Saturday.

Game Ball – Offense

Amara Darboh (6 catches, 87 yards, 1 touchdown)
Michigan’s offense struggled to move the ball consistently for most of the game and converted just 3-of-15 third downs, but senior receiver Amara Darboh made two big plays in the fourth quarter that ultimately won the game. On 3rd-and-7 from the Michigan 39, Darboh caught a slant for a first down across midfield. On the very next play, he beat the Wisconsin cornerback down the sideline and caught a perfectly thrown deep ball for the game-winning touchdown.

Previous
Week 1 — Chris Evans (8 carries, 112 yards, 2 touchdowns)
Week 2 — Wilton Speight (25-of-37 for 312 yards, 4 touchdowns)
Week 3 — Jake Butt (7 receptions for 87 yards)
Week 4 — Grant Newsome, Ben Braden, Mason Cole, Kyle Kalis, Erik Magnuson (326 rush yards, 0 sacks allowed)

Game Ball – Defense

Channing Stribling (2 tackles, 2 interceptions, 2 pass breakups)
This week’s defensive game ball could have very easily gone to Ryan Glasgow for clogging the middle of the line and bottling up Wisconsin’s running game. But when a defensive back records two interceptions — and nearly a third — he gets the game ball. Channing Stribling has always played second fiddle to Jourdan Lewis in Michigan’s secondary, but although Lewis’ interception was the highlight of the game, Stribling shut down the Wisconsin passing game. His second interception, when Wisconsin was trying to put together a game-tying drive with less than four minutes remaining, effectively sealed the game.

Previous
Week 1 — Mike McCray (9 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble)
Week 2 — Rashan Gary (6 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks)
Week 3 — Jabrill Peppers (9 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 1 sack, 2 kick ret. for 81 yards, 4 punt ret. for 99 yards, 1 TD)
Week 4 — Maurice Hurst (6 tackles, 3 solo, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack)

M&GB staff predictions – Wisconsin

Friday, September 30th, 2016


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Previously this week: First Look, Five-Spot Challenge, Tailgate Tuesday: Tomato pie, Week 4 power rankings, The numbers game, Game preview

Both Michigan and Wisconsin enter Saturday’s matchup ranked in the top 10 — the first time in series history that the two have played as top 10 teams. Both earned dominant wins over Big Ten East foes last weekend and both feature defenses that rank among the nation’s best. So what gives?

Once again, Joe was the winner of our staff predictions last week with his prediction of Michigan 42 – Penn State 10. He now has the lead in our staff picks challenge with three wins in four weeks. Here are our picks for this week:

Justin
Staff Predictions
Michigan Wisconsin
Justin 33 13
Derick 35 24
Sam 24 10
Josh 41 13
Joe 34 14
M&GB Average 33 15

Michigan and Wisconsin feature two of the nation’s best defenses, but I’m not sold on the offenses the Badgers have faced to date. That’s not saying that their defense isn’t great. But Michigan’s offense is light years better than those of LSU, Akron, Georgia State, and Michigan State. Michigan may not score the 52 points it averages, but it will move the ball semi-consistently and put a little bit of humility into Wisconsin’s defense. Look for a lot more Jabrill Peppers as a ball carrier, receiver, and as a decoy as Jim Harbaugh finds ways to neutralize Wisconsin’s linebacker strength.

Defensively, Michigan matches up nicely with Wisconsin’s offense. Alex Hornibrook hasn’t faced the type of pass rush Michigan brings and won’t have the same accuracy he displayed last week. Without a spread threat, the defense will be able to focus on bottling up Corey Clement and forcing third-and-longs where the Wolverines excel.

The first half will remain a close, defensive battle, but Michigan’s offense will find enough to pull away in the second. Wilton Speight will take care of the ball and put together a nice stat line with Jake Butt being his favorite target.

Michigan 33 – Wisconsin 13

Derick

Wisconsin is the first real test Michigan will face this season, setting up a top-10 battle in Ann Arbor.

Michigan provides a bigger test for Alex Hornibrook, who will see a defense averaging 4.3 sacks per game. On offense, Michigan probably won’t get up to 52 points (its season average), but it should do enough to win the game.

Wisconsin will hang around, but the special teams dominance of Michigan will wear down the Badgers. Michigan will pull away late to win.

Michigan 35 – Wisconsin 24

Sam

Many are calling this the first real test for this Michigan Wolverines squad after four straight blowouts. But with Vince Biegel out for the Badgers and Michigan’s defense getting close to full strength (minus the unfortunate loss of Jeremy Clark), I think the Wolverines hold every advantage in what should be a classic rough-and-tumble Big Ten throwback contest.

Jabrill Peppers should see plenty of snaps in all three phases, Jourdan Lewis and Ben Braden should inch closer to full health, and Michigan’s defense should be far too stout for a Wisconsin team designed to ground and pound. I’ll take the Maize and Blue in convincing fashion again.

Michigan 27 – Wisconsin 10

Josh (1)

As we saw in this week’s The Numbers Game, Wisconsin is very good at preventing explosive plays but not so good at generating them. This plays right into Michigan’s hands. I think this will be a good test for the Michigan offensive line as they have struggled thus far against 3-4 fronts, and Wisconsin is always a stout team up front. I expect Wisconsin to keep Michigan well under their season average for explosive plays (currently 11.25 per game), but with the loss of stud linebacker Vince Biegel they will struggle to keep Michigan the board.

It appears as though sophomore running back Karan Higdon is not only healthy but quite possibly the No. 2 option behind De’Veon Smith. If this holds true I think we’ll see a heavy dose of run and play-action passing this weekend. I’m not sure Michigan tops 45 for the sixth straight game (dating back to last season) but they’ll come close. As we’ve seen Harbaugh isn’t one to let his foot off the gas.

On the other side of the ball redshirt freshman quarterback Alex Hornibrook had a solid outing against Michigan State last week but it appeared that his arm strength was a bit, shall we say, lacking. He likely won’t be able to test Michigan deep, nor is he a threat to run. At least not a dangerous run threat anyway. It looks like Bryan Mone may be back this week, and if he is Hornibrook could be in for a long, painful afternoon. Michigan should keep their season pace with 10-plus tackles for loss and add three or four sacks as well.

Wisconsin is a pro-style team and they don’t really use many 3-plus wide receiver sets, so the huge loss of Jeremy Clark, literally and figuratively, might not rear its ugly head this week. However, Paul Chryst is a solid coach and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him roll out a few plays with an extra receiver or two to try and stress Michigan’s pass defense.

Honestly, I’m not too worried this week but I am very uncomfortable going forward. Brandon Watson, David Long, and Lavert Hill don’t exactly instill much confidence in me right now. But again, this is as a good a week to test out some new defensive back options as any without much fear of disastrous results.

Normally you expect a battle of two top defenses (currently No. 1 and 2 in the Big Ten) to come down to which team has the better offense. That team is Michigan, by a longshot. On top of that ,I don’t think Wisconsin is as good as their record — and previous opponents’ ranking — would lead you to believe. LSU is clearly a dumpster fire and Michigan State gave that game away with poor quarterback play and a ton of turnovers. Did I mention Georgia State took them deep into the fourth quarter? Wisconsin is good, don’t get me wrong, but Michigan is just much better all-around. My gut says it won’t be as close as a top ten matchup ought to be though. Wolverines win big, again.

Michigan 41 – Wisconsin 13

Joe (3)

Now things start to get a little fun. We’re done with the early cream-puffs and start to get into the meat of the schedule. Mmmmmm…..meat! If you browse the inter webs on Tuesday’s, you know what we do to meat around here. We cook it low and slow and typically char it at the end. This will be no different against the Badgers. They are coming into the Big House riding high after a dominating performance against the Spartans. The big difference is the offense they will see this week is much better than anything they’ve seen so far. Speight will distribute the ball around and take a few deep shots along the way and eventually find Butt for a touchdown or two. The defense will get all over the freshman quarterback and force a few bad decisions resulting in short fields for the good guys. Michigan wins this one going away.

Michigan 34 – Wisconsin 14

#4 Michigan vs #8 Wisconsin game preview

Friday, September 30th, 2016


um-wisconsin-game-preview-header

Michigan’s schedule has gotten progressively harder each week this season and the Wolverines have passed each test with flying colors. Tomorrow, Michigan faces its toughest test yet when eighth-ranked Wisconsin comes to town.

um-wisconsin_small
Quick Facts
Michigan Stadium – 3:30p.m. EST – ABC
Wisconsin Head Coach: Paul Chryst (2nd season)
Coaching Record: 33-22 (14-3 at Wis)
Offensive Coordinator: Joe Rudolph (2nd season)
Defensive Coordinator: Justin Wilcox (1st season)
Last Season: 10-3 (6-2 Big Ten)
Last Meeting: UW 48 – UM 28 (2010)
All-Time Series: Michigan 49-14-1
Record in Ann Arbor: Michigan 27-7
Jim Harbaugh vs Wisconsin First meeting
Last Michigan win: 2008 (27-25)
Last Wisconsin win: 2010 (48-28)
Current Streak: Wisconsin 2
Wisconsin Schedule to date
Opponent Result
#5 LSU W 16-14
Akron W 54-10
Georgia State W 23-17
#8 Michigan State W 30-6

Apparently Wisconsin is a part of the Big Ten. It’s true, I just looked it up. High schoolers right now probably don’t even remember the last time Michigan played the Badgers as the two teams haven’t faced off since 2010, when they wouldn’t have even been teenagers yet. Yes, that was two coaches ago for both teams. Rich Rodriguez graced one sideline and Bret Bielema graced the other. Those were different times indeed.

But now, both teams are back and will face off as top 10 opponents for the first time in series history. Although Michigan has owned the all-time series (49-14-1), Wisconsin has won the last two, beating Michigan 48-28 in 2010 and 45-24 in 2009. And while Michigan comes into this year’s matchup ranked higher, Wisconsin is the team that has already played and beaten two ranked opponents.

Wisconsin opened the season with a 16-14 win over then-5th-ranked LSU in a not-so-neutral site game at Lambeau Field. But that win has looked less and less impressive as the first month of the season wraps up. LSU let Jacksonville State hang around until the last minute of the first half. Then they squeaked by Mississippi State, 23-20. Then last week they lost to Auburn 18-13 and promptly fired Les Miles. They feature the nation’s 110th-best scoring offense and 111th-best total offense. Consider that Penn State ranks 72nd in scoring and 112th in total offense.

It remains to be seen whether or not the big win over Michigan State is as good as it looked. The Spartans have been dominant in recent years, but had an uninspired performance against Furman in the opener and then knocked off Notre Dame, who is just 1-3.

So is Wisconsin as good as its wins initially looked? Or is their ranking overinflated due to overrated opponents? The answer probably lies somewhere in between, but let’s take a look at the matchups.

When Wisconsin has the ball

Wisconsin’s offense currently ranks 63rd nationally in scoring offense (30.8 points per game), 75th in total offense (410.5 yards per game), 58th in rushing (184.2 yards per game), and 70th in passing (226.2 yards per game).

Whereas Michigan’s offense hasn’t recorded fewer than 397 yards in a game this season, Wisconsin’s has exceeded that only twice — 400 yards against Georgia State and 586 against Akron. Against the two good defenses it has faced, it has averaged just 328 yards. Those defenses — LSU and Michigan State — rank seventh and 21st in S&P+. By comparison, Michigan ranks second.

Wisconsin started senior quarterback Bart Houston for the first three games after winning the competition in fall camp, but Chryst went with freshman Alex Hornibrook against Michigan State. Houston completed 62 percent of his passes for 527 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. Hornibrook, meanwhile, has completed 67.4 percent of his passes for 378 yards, three touchdowns, and two picks. Against Michigan State last Saturday, Hornibrook went 16-of-26 for 195 yards, one touchdowns, and a pick.

He has a couple of dangerous receivers to throw to in Jazz Peavy and Robert Wheelwright, who have combined for 31 receptions for 502 yards two touchdowns. Peavy had a big game against Akron with seven catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught four passes for 96 yards against MSU. But Those two scores against Akron are the only two by the tandem thus far. Junior tight end Troy Fumagali is the only other pass catcher with double digit receptions. He has caught 14 passes for 169 yards. Interestingly, the most scoring production has come from lesser known tight ends Eric Steffes and Kyle Penniston and fullback Alec Ingold, who have caught 11 combined passes and three have been touchdowns.

The best player on the Badgers’ offense is senior running back Corey Clement, who averages 83.7 rushing yards per game. He missed the Georgia State game with an injury, but has scored two touchdowns in two of the three games he has played. However, Michigan State held him to just 2.3 yards per carry — one of those being a 22-yards run. Senior Dare Ogunbuwale is the second leading rusher with 186 yards and a touchdown on 42 carries and he’s the best pass catcher out of the backfield. Freshman Bradrick Shaw leads the team with an average of 5.7 yards per carry on 24 attempts.

The offensive line has allowed six sacks through four games, one more than Michigan’s has. But it’s a young line that struggled to open holes for the running game last season. Junior left tackle Ryan Ramczyk, a transfer from UW-Stevens Point, is the elder statesman. Left guard Michael Deiter, center Brett Connors, right guard Beau Benzschawel, and right tackle Jacob Maxwell are all redshirt sophomores.

When Michigan has the ball

Wisconsin’s defense lead the nation in scoring defense a year ago, but defensive coordinator Dave Aranda bolted for LSU. Instead of promoting from within, Chryst hired Justin Wilcox, who had just been fired from USC. Wilcox has been considered one of the top up and coming coaches in football after having success as Boise State’s defensive coordinator from 2006-09 when the Broncs went 49-4. He went from there to Tennessee for a couple seasons, then Washington, and USC, but has yet to land a head coaching gig.

He inherited a lot of pieces from Aranda, including nearly the entire front seven. It’s lead by one of the best linebacking corps in the nation. However, it received a major blow this week when the Badgers announced that senior Vince Biegel will miss a few weeks with a foot injury. While that may make things a bit easier for Michigan’s offense, there is still plenty of talent there. Juniors T.J. Watt and Jack Cichy and sophomore T.J. Edwards are the team’s three leading tacklers and have combined for 10.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.

The line isn’t the type of pass rushing line that Michigan features, but it mostly stands its ground and lets the linebackers do that. Junior end Connor Sheehy has one quarterback hurry, a tackle for loss, and half a sack, while fellow junior end Chikwe Obasih only has three tackles. Sophomore nose tackle Olive Sagapolu is a 6-foot-2, 340-pound space eater but not a threat to get to the quarterback.

The secondary is where some vulnerabilities may lie, as Wisconsin ranks just sixth in the Big Ten and 39th nationally against the pass. Senior cornerback Sojourn Shelton is a good one and junior Derrick Tindall is as well. They have a combined three interceptions and 10 pass breakups thus far. The safeties are junior D’Cota Dixon and senior Leo Musso, who have combined for 28 tackles, a sack, an interception, two quarterback hurries, and a fumble recovery, which Musso returned for a touchdown last week.

The other third

Wisconsin is also without its starting field goal kicker, junior Rafael Gaglianone, who will miss the rest of the season for back surgery. While his status was still up in the air last week, Chryst played aggressively on offense, going 2-of-2 on fourth downs. Gaglianone’s backup, senior Andrew Endicot, did attempt one which he made from 41 yards out. It was the first of his career.

Freshman punter Anthony Lotti ranks last in the Big Ten with a 39.0-yard punt average, though he has downed four of nine inside the 20 with no touchbacks.

Peavy handles the punt return duties, averaging 4.8 yards per return, while Ogunbowale averages 22.8 yards per kick return.

Prediction

Michigan and Wisconsin feature two of the nation’s best defenses, but I’m not sold on the offenses the Badgers have faced to date. That’s not saying that their defense isn’t great. But Michigan’s offense is light years better than those of LSU, Akron, Georgia State, and Michigan State. Michigan may not score the 52 points it averages, but it will move the ball semi-consistently and put a little bit of humility into Wisconsin’s defense. Look for a lot more Jabrill Peppers as a ball carrier, receiver, and as a decoy as Jim Harbaugh finds ways to neutralize Wisconsin’s linebacker strength.

Defensively, Michigan matches up nicely with Wisconsin’s offense. Hornibrook hasn’t faced the type of pass rush Michigan brings and won’t have the same accuracy he displayed last week. Without a spread threat, the defense will be able to focus on bottling up Clement and forcing third-and-longs where the Wolverines excel.

The first half will remain a close, defensive battle, but Michigan’s offense will find enough to pull away in the second. Wilton Speight will take care of the ball and put together a nice stat line with Jake Butt being his favorite target.

Michigan 33 – Wisconsin 13

The numbers game: U-M’s smothering defense narrows gap between 2015 D’s big play pace

Thursday, September 29th, 2016


peppers-vs-penn-state(Dustin Johnson, Maize n Brew)

Previously: Is Don Brown’s defense high-risk? The numbers say noMichigan’s Harbaughfense will be more explosive in Year 2, Run game makes big plays in Week 1, While UCF loaded the box Michigan went to the air for big plays, Michigan offense doubles 2015 big play pace through 3 weeks

I didn’t think Penn State would put up much of a fight but that was just embarrassing on their part. James Franklin seriously kicked a field goal to make a four score game a four score game. After he called a timeout to think it over. Wow. But enough about a once proud program who’ve fallen on hard times.

After the offense carried the way with big plays the last two weeks it was the Michigan defense that owned this game. Just four big plays were given up — three run and one pass.

On offense Michigan had nine big plays — eight runs and one pass — which was lower than their season average of 12 coming in. But we expected them to drop off as the season went on (I’m still sticking with my projection of eight or nine per game).

Through four games in 2016 the Michigan offense has averaged 7.5 big run plays per game (20th nationally) and 3.75 big pass plays per game (38th) for a total of 11.25 big plays per game (20th) with a big play percentage of 15.2 percent (24th). Their big play differential (percent of big plays for minus percent of big plays against) is 5.6 percent (18th). Their total toxic differential is 25 (good for 10th on a per game basis).

Contrast that to the 2015 Wolverine offense who, through four games, averaged 3.75 big run plays and 2.75 big pass plays for a total of 6.5 big plays with a big play percentage of 9.09 percent. Their big play differential was a paltry 0.58 percent and their total toxic differential was 4.

Michigan offense – 2015 vs 2016 first four weeks comparison
Year Big Run Plays Big Pass Plays Total Big Plays Big Play % Big Play Diff Toxic Diff
2016 30 17 47 15.20% 5.60% 25
2015 15 11 26 9.09% 0.58% 4
Michigan defense – 2015 vs 2016 averages
Year Big Run Plays/gm Big Pass Plays/gm Total Big Plays/gm Big Play % Big Play Diff Toxic Diff
2016 4.50 1.50 5.75 9.60% 5.60% 25
2015 4.00 1.00 5.00 8.51% 0.58% 4

As I mentioned last week, Michigan is faring so well in the toxic differential metric, not due to a huge turnover margin (plus-4 versus minus-2 at this time last year), but because of the offense’s giant leap forward in big plays (11.25 per game versus 6.5 per game).

I haven’t gone back and tracked all of 2015 by game yet but I’m willing to bet the 2016 offense will continue to be far ahead of them on a week by week basis.

On to the defense.

As I mentioned above, Michigan gave up only four big plays to Penn State. Not surprisingly, Saquon Barkley had two of them — one run and one reception. Thus far, Michigan’s defense has given up 4.5 big run plays per game (56th) and 1.5 big pass plays (8th) for a total of 6 big plays (21st) with a big play against percentage of 9.6 percent (33rd). It will be interesting to see how those numbers are affected now that cornerback Jeremy Clark is out for the year with a torn ACL.

Last year at this point the defense had given up four big run plays per game and one big pass play per game for a total of five big plays given up per game with a big play against percentage of 8.51 percent.

Yes, Michigan is giving up slightly more big plays per game through four weeks (6 versus 5). Yes, they’re giving up a higher percentage of big plays (9.6% vs 8.51%). But as we know, the offense is more than making up for it by almost doubling the amount of big plays as opposed to last year. So this shouldn’t be any cause for concern. Remember, giving up around six big plays per game will still have Michigan ranked around the top 10.

Michigan’s Week 4 big plays
Quarter Down & Distance Player Yards Gained Run/Pass
1 3rd and 6 Wilton Speight to Jake Butt 25 Pass
1 1st and 10 De’Veon Smith 39 Run
2 2nd and 10 Ty Isaac 11 Run
3 2nd and 1 De’Veon Smith 30 Run
3 1st and 10 Chris Evans 37 Run
3 1st and 10 Karan Higdon 10 Run
4 2nd and 11 Ty Isaac 10 Run
4 2nd and 15 Karan Higdon 40 (TD) Run
4 2nd and 10 Ty Isaac 25 Run
Penn State’s Week 4 big plays
2 1st and 10 Trace McSorley to Saquon Barkley 30 Pass
3 1st and 10 Saquon Barkley 33 Run
4 3rd and 14 Trace McSorley 13 Run
4 2nd and 7 Miles Sanders 11 Run

However, since there has been more and more clamoring on the interwebs about the high risk/high reward nature and complaints about ALL the big plays we’ve given up, I dug up something interesting that should put all that nonsense to an end. If the big play numbers haven’t already.

It’s not a stat we track as part of our explosive play numbers feature but consider this: through 13 games last year Michigan had 88 tackles for loss (6.77 per game) and 32 sacks (2.46 per game). Through four games, Michigan already has 44 tackles for loss (11 per game) — half of their entire 2015 total — and 17 sacks (4.25 per game) — just over half of their 2015 total. Through just four games. Let that sink in for a moment. Seriously, go back and read it again.

On that same note, Michigan leads the country in both total tackles for loss and sacks and is tied for second in tackles for loss per game and third in sacks per game.

Don Brown’s defense is on pace to give up around six big plays per game — roughly the same as Michigan did last year (and about what his Boston College defense did as well). But they are also on pace to finish top five for both tackles for loss and sacks per game. High reward/LOW risk.

Fun fact: In 2015 Brown’s BC defense finished second in total tackles for loss (Clemson was first but played three more games) and first in tackles for loss per game.

Wisconsin comes to town this weekend having just knocked off a top-10 Michigan State team. Yes, they also beat a top-five LSU team earlier this season, but seeing as LSU is not even ranked anymore it’s not as impressive as it once looked. Still, the Badgers are a tough, well-coached team who will give Michigan all they have.

Michigan & Wisconsin offense comparison
Year Big Run Plays Big Pass Plays Total Big Plays Big Play % Big Play Diff Toxic Diff
UM Off. 28 17 45 16.00% 6.00% 26
WIS Off. 19 13 32 10.63% 1.99% 15
Michigan & Wisconsin defense comparison
Year Big Run Plays Big Pass Plays Total Big Plays Big Play % Big Play Diff Toxic Diff
UM Def. 18 6 24 9.60% 6.00% 26
WIS Def. 9 10 19 8.64% 1.99% 15

Wisconsin’s offensive numbers, as far as explosive plays, are rather pedestrian: 4.75 big run plays per game (82nd) and 3.25 big pass plays per game (65th) for a total of eight big plays per game (89th) with a big play percentage of 10.63 percent (101st).

However, their defense is where they hang their hats. They allow 2.25 big run plays per game (8th) and 2.5 big pass plays (36th) for a total of just 4.75 big plays given up per game (8th) with a big play against percentage of 8.64 percent (22nd). A very solid defense indeed. Their big play differential is 1.99 percent (60th) and their total toxic differential is 15 (good for 29th on a per game basis).

Saturday’s game should be a good one.