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Stats Preview - Michigan edition

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Michigan needs a win to become bowl eligible, and Maryland is playing for bowl ranking. Who's likely to come out on top?

Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland travels to Michigan Saturday, looking to score their first win in the Big House.  The two teams enter this game on opposing trajectories.  Michigan started the season 2-4, but have won three of their last four games to even their record at 5-5.  Despite recent on field results, on paper there is not much to choose between these two teams.

Maryland Offense vs. Michigan Defense (all statistics are per game)

Points

Total Yards

3rd down conversions

Time of possession

Passing yards

Completion Percentage

Rushing yards

Turnovers

Maryland Offense

28.8

343.7

31%

27:26

229.8

54%

113.9

2.1

Michigan Defense

20.4

300.8

38%

29:46

197.6

60%

103.2

1

The past three games have been rough for Maryland's offense.  Production has been way down - to the point that quarterback C.J. Brown could lose his job.  Lack of production is due, in no small part, to defense Maryland has faced lately.  The Terps have faced three of the top four defenses in the conference (based on total defense) in the last three games.  Unfortunately, Maryland will now face the third best defense in the Big Ten as ranked by both scoring and total yards.

Michigan's defense is really good against the run, allowing only 2.8 yards per carry.  Likewise, Maryland's running game has been virtually non-existent.  The Terps are averaging just 28.8 yards per game in the last three games - or 1.1 yards per carry!  Michigan is 3rd in the Big Ten in rush defense, so it looks like the game could be won or lost on the arm of C.J. Brown (and I can't imagine that's good news to anyone).

Maryland Defense vs. Michigan Offense

Points

Total Yards

3rd down conversions

Time of possession

Passing yards

Completion percentage

Rushing yards

Turnovers per game

Michigan Offense

20.7

322.6

38%

30:14

168.5

56%

154.1

2.3

Maryland  Defense

29

436.8

38%

32:34

238.5

53%

198.3

1.8

Michigan has a good defense, but thankfully for Terp fans, Michigan's offense is bad - very bad.  The Wolverines rank last in the Big Ten in total offense, and next to last in scoring offense.  Michigan scores even fewer points per game than the woefully inept Penn. State offense.

Michigan's quarterback, Devin Gardner, is a turnover machine.  He has thrown 13 interceptions on the year (compared to only 8 touchdown passes).  Will Likely is likely licking his chops anticipating this match up.  Likely is tied for the conference lead in both pass breakups and interceptions.  The matchup of the game may turn out to be Will Likely (in tandem with another DB) on Michigan's go to receiver Devin Funchess.  Funchess is Michigan's taller version of Stefon Diggs, leading the Wolverines in catches, yards, and touchdowns.

Special Teams

Field goals

Field goal conversion %

Punts per game (net)

Penalties per game

Return Yards (Punt/KO)

Maryland

14-14

100%

7.2 (40.6)

5.8 (53.6 YPG)

12.4 / 25.1

Michigan

12-17

70%

4.8 (43.1)

3.5 (31.9 YPG)

6.5 / 19

Overall, Maryland has the edge in special teams thanks to Brad Craddock and Will Likely.  Michigan's kicker, Matt Wile, has been solidly dependable from short range, but seems to struggle with longer kicks.  For the season he has made every field goal he has attempted from less than 40 yards.  Wile is 50/50 from beyond 40 yards, and his season long is 48 yards.  Craddock's superior range could be vital in a low scoring affair, as this game looks to be.  Will Likely's return ability can help flip field position, and possibly put points on the board (anyone remember Virginia Tech last season?)

Conclusion

On paper, this game looks an awful lot like Maryland's matchup against Penn. State.  Michigan has a good defense, Penn. State had a good defense.  Michigan has a bad offense, Penn. State had a bad offense.  Michigan has never lost to Maryland, Penn. State HAD never lost to Maryland.  I could go on, but I think you get the idea.  I expect this game to play out along the same lines as the Penn. State contest earlier this season - a low scoring game where field position is at a premium.  To take the analogy all the way, I think Brad Craddock kicks the game winner in the final minutes - Terps 24 Michigan 23

Sources: umterps.com; mgoblue.com