Maryland lost to Michigan by a final score of 42-21 on Saturday. Here at the advanced stats box score review, we aim to find something to learn about every game, no matter the margin. The aim here is not to belabor the point, but rather to get the best possible picture of where Maryland’s at.
We’ll use Bill Connelly’s Five Factors to go a bit deeper than the traditional box score lets us. A deeper explanation is here, and we’ll try to explain everything simply.
Maryland-Michigan Advanced Stats Box Score
Maryland would have had to be super explosive to have a shot. When that didn’t happen, the outcome was just about sealed.
Michigan’s defense is incredible. If you watched the game on Saturday, you probably know that already. Creating explosive plays was likely Maryland’s only chance to get a win, because methodical marches down the field against the Wolverines was such a big ask.
Maryland’s explosiveness rankings, per Bill C.’s stats, were its biggest strength. Here’s what I wrote last Monday:
Michigan’s biggest strength is stopping the thing Maryland does best: big run plays. Maryland ranks fourth in IsoPPP, Bill Connelly’s measure of explosive plays, and first in rushing marginal efficiency, which compares a team’s explosive play output to the standard on plays of the same down, distance, and yard line throughout the nation (deeper explanation here, if you’re interested). That’s very good! Michigan ranks eighth in defensive IsoPPP and fourth in defensive rushing marginal efficiency, though. The Wolverines are fearsome.
To measure explosiveness for a specific game, we’ll go simple with yards per play. Maryland’s was 4.4, while Michigan’s was 6.8. For reference, Maryland had 3.8 against Temple and 8.5 against Minnesota.
Maryland didn’t have an offensive play go for 20-plus yards until the game was out of reach in the fourth quarter, and had two in garbage time. Michigan had five before the fourth quarter and two in the final frame. The lack of explosive plays meant Maryland’s offense wasn’t going anywhere, and the Wolverines’ defense was able to grind the Terps down all game.
Maryland was not efficient, which, whatever. Efficiency was going to be just about impossible against Michigan’s defense.
As noted above, an efficient performance against the Wolverines was likely not on the table. Success rate is the metric we use to to evaluate efficiency, and Maryland’s was predictably not good. Twenty-five percent isn’t the worst. It’s three percent more than what the Terps got against Texas, and ranks third out of the offense’s five performances. Michigan’s success rate of 55 percent was the best an opponent’s done against Maryland all season, so that was the bigger problem.
Maryland only had three scoring opportunities, and did an average job with them.
Maryland averaged 4.7 points per scoring opportunity, while Michigan had 4.8. That’s the Terps’ second-worst performance in that area on offense this season, and a number in line with what they’ve done in other games on defense. Overall, fine in this area and certainly not the reason for the score.
Maryland benefitted from some slight turnover luck, which probably helps explain why the game was so close early.
Each team had one turnover, so that margin canceled out. Turnovers luck favored the Terps slightly, at a margin of 0.44. That number would have to have been wayyy bigger to counteract Michigan’s dominance in efficiency and explosiveness. For example, Maryland had a turnovers luck measure of 1.63 against Texas, and that smoothed over some other difficulties.
(Bill C.’s research says teams on average recover 50 percent of fumbles and intercept 21 percent of passes they get their hands on. Expected turnover margin comes from using those fumble and pass break-up numbers to project what the turnover margin should have been. The turnovers luck number comes from subtracting the expected turnover margin from the actual turnover margin.)
Also, the Darnell Savage interception with Maryland leading 7-3 in the first quarter was quite a time to be alive.
Michigan also won the field position battle by a bit.
Maryland’s average starting field position was 26.3, while Michigan’s was 29.8. Not worth examining too much, as the Terps had already dug themselves too big of a hole in other areas.