2013 Michigan v 2012 Michigan State

2014 UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN TEAM: GOOD OR NOT?

The UM football team underachieved in the 2013 season. They finished 7-6 after they were embarrassed in their bowl game. They played some close games, but so what, close isn’t good enough. They were probably 4 plays away from being 11-1 in the regular season (with the only clear loss coming against MSU).

But, could close games in 2013 mean anything for the 2014 season? Maybe. To believe this is even a possibility, you just need to look at the 2012 Michigan State University team; keeping in mind that the 2013 MSU team put up an incredible 12-1 season, including a Big Ten championship and a Rose Bowl victory.

Following the 2013 UM season, newly hired offensive coordinator David Nussmeier famously said this: “We were 11 points away from being 11-1”.

Following the 2012 season, MSU head coach Mark Dantonio made this statement: “When you look at last season, we were so close in so many different areas from having another 10, 11-win season”

Granted Dantonio didn’t identify the exactly number of points in his statement, but the sentiment is the same as the Nuss statement. They were very close to having a very good season.

Both teams were very unlucky at times. They were both bad at times and they both had some good moments.

So, this got me thinking….how similar were these two teams? Lets look.

RESULTS

  Record Bowl Close Losses Close Wins
2012 MSU 7-6 Buffalo Wild Wings Lost 5 by 13 points Won 4 by 12 points
2013 UM 7-6 Buffalo Wild Wings Lost 4 by 11 points Won 3 by 15 points

Had MSU lost all their close games, they would have gone 3-10. If they had won all the close games, they’d have been 12-1. Had UM lost all their close games, they would have gone 4-9. If they had won all the close games, they’d have been 11-2. Of course, if they had lost all close games, both teams would have played one fewer game due to not being bowl eligible.

Truly astounding how close those numbers are.

Here are some schedule-related similarities. Also amazing.

  1. MSU started the season with a win over a ranked team in Boise State. They then had a blowout win over CMU.
  2. UM started the season with a blowout win over CMU. They then beat a ranked Notre Dame team.
  3. Each team had comfortable wins over Minnesota.
  4. Each team lost to Iowa by 3 points.
  5. Each team lost to Nebraska by 4 points on their home field.
  6. Each team lost to Ohio State by a single point on their home field.
  7. UM beat MSU in 2012. MSU beat UM in 2013.

Weird, huh?

OFFENSIVE STATISTICS

  Passing Yards Rushing Yards Total Offense First Downs Turnovers
2012 MSU 209.9 149.4 359.3 10.7 18
2013 UM 247.8 125.7 373.5 11.4 21

Again, very close. Passing yards shows a clear advantage towards 2013 UM, while the rushing yards is equally slanted towards 2012 MSU. Lets look at the players that put up those numbers.

QUARTERBACK STATISTICS

  Attempts Comp Yards Comp Pct TD INT
Andrew Maxwell (MSU) 466 234 2606 52.5 13 9
Devin Gardner (UM) 345 208 2960 60.3 21 11

Gardner was clearly superior in 2013 than Maxwell was in 2012. I don’t think many people would argue with this.

COACHING CHANGES

The 2012 MSU team’s play calling duties were in the hands of offensive coordinator Dan Roushar, who left MSU to work for the New Orleans Saints following the 2012 season. He was replaced by Jim Bollman, who along with Dave Warner called the offensive plays in the turnaround 2013 season.

The 2014 Michigan team will only have one coaching change of note from the 2013 team and that is the firing of Al Borges and subsequent hiring of Dave Nussmeier as offensive coordinator. This means a new play caller for the coming season.

DIFFERENCES

There are a few glaring differences between the two squads. Rushing offense and overall defense are the biggest.

RUNNING BACK STATISTICS

  Carries Yards TD Receptions Yards TD
Le’Veon Bell (MSU) 382 1793 12 32 167 1
Fitz Toussaint (UM) 185 648 13 18 203 0

Le’Veon Bell was probably the single biggest difference between these two teams. Michigan had nobody that even comes close to what he produced. But Bell was not on the team the following year when MSU had the big turnaround.

DEFENSIVE STATISTICS

  Passing Defense Rushing Defense Total Points Allowed
2012 MSU 175.8 98.6 274.4 212
2013 UM 231.3 140.2 371.5 349

WOW. Yeah, I guess its safe to say MSU defense was considerably better. And their defense improved even further from 2012 to their big 2013 season.

BOWL GAME

The other difference, and I’m not sure if it is a ‘big’ difference or not, is the results in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. MSU beat TCU 17-16 in the 2012 BWW Bowl. UM was housed by Kansas State 31-14 in the 2013 BWW Bowl. Does this provide momentum heading into the following season? I doubt it especially when there is large turnover of players. But, as a program, it might add a little bit of confidence and swagger.

CONCLUSIONS

So, does this stuff mean anything? ANYTHING AT ALL?

If nothing else, it shows an incredible similarity between these two teams. Both underachieved. Both lost close games. Both lost games at home and on the road. Both won close games. Both turned the ball over too much. Both were very disappointed in the results of the season.

Obviously, we do not know until the 2014 season rolls around, but I think it at least shows a season based on close losses can possibly lead to a much better season the following year. The other possibility is that MSU having core strengths of defense and rushing is a much better foundation for success in future years than UM’s core strength of … of … help me out here. What was their strength?

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