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[+] Team Summaries

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Statistical Preview: Michigan State #49

The Michigan State defense was every bit as good as we expected. By opponent adjusted EPA per rush (EPA/rush+), the best available metric for measuring run defense, Michigan State's was second to none. By the same measure their pass defense was 11th. After Michigan State, only Alabama, Florida, Stanford, and LSU finished in the top 11 in both categories. They were also excellent in the red zone, allowing only 3.6 points per try; only Utah State and Notre Dame were better.

On the other hand, the Michigan State defense fell short in a few key areas. They didn't force enough turnovers (12.7% of possessions), didn't get enough out of the turnovers they did force, and they didn't get to the quarterback enough (sacks on 4.5% of pass attempts). They were good but not exceptional on third downs and this was probably directly tied to the sacks per pass - Michigan State was 106th in the country in sacks per pass on passing downs.

The offense was uninspiring: 1.5 points per possession, 52.5% completions, 5.3 yards per pass.

Michigan State was as close to 12-2 as any 7-6 team in history. They lost five games by 13 total points. The Spartans were a handful of timely turnovers from being grouped with Stanford and Notre Dame this off-season. Looking forward, where do they make up those 13 points in 2013?

There's no reason to expect anything less (or all that different) from the defense in 2013 than what we saw in 2012, and that's fine. The defense was good enough in 2012 to carry a national title contender. But there's little room for them to get better. And so the onus falls on the offense, and that's a problem. The offensive line will be better, but the skill positions are a mess. As with 2012, the 2013 season will depend on a series of coin flips; you never want to go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line, but I'll bet against Dantonio when a football game is on the line every time.
The Statistical Review breaks down teams along a number of performance categories, everything from red zone scoring to field goal percentage, and compares that performance against the rest of the FBS. All 124 teams will be reviewed from 124 to 1 by the hybrid rankings. You can find short descriptions of the stats used in the table below.

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