Open Thread and Common Opponent Data – OSU/UM

OSU FootballHow’s THAT for a quick season? Is it just me?

Tomorrow the top-10 ranked Buckeyes will play The Worst Michigan Team In History. Seriously. In 111 years, no OSU team has faced a statistically worse UM opponent.

UM fans, if you think that makes Buckeye fans breathe easier or act overconfident, guess again. Games like this always make me nervous. On paper, OSU should have an easier time with the Wolverines tomorrow than they had against I-AA Youngstown. Which is precisely why I’m hoping the OSU team doesn’t think of it that way. If there’s one weakness with this current class of senior leaders, it’s that time and time again they’ve failed to take the big games seriously. Cakewalking into Florida. Infighting against LSU. Choking against USC.

However, if there is a reassuring theme from the Tressel era, it’s that he’s always been successful at getting the players fired up for Michigan. Even in his one loss, the overmatched Buckeyes kept it close into the fourth quarter.

Unlike what you’ve read in the papers, The Worst Michigan Team In History did not miss out on a bowl game this season. Actually, they earned a spot in the “Horseshoe Bowl,” and that’s how the Worst Players in Michigan History are looking at it.

Below are the tables comparing apples to apples between the good and bad guys.

The tables list the opponent(s) in chronological order down the first column, and include the following ‘important’ stats: total points (Pts), total yards (Yds), total first downs (Dwns), and turnovers (TOs); for each team and its opponent (Opp).

Table 1: The Worst Michigan Team In History

  Pts Pts (opp) Yds Yds (opp) Frst Dwns Dwns (opp) TOs TOs (opp)
Wisconsin 27 25 268 384 14 18 5 4
Illinois 20 45 319 501 17 19 2 0
Penn St. 17 46 291 482 15 22 1 1
Mich St. 21 35 252 473 13 22 4 3
Purdue 42 48 300 522 15 25 1 1
Minnesota 29 6 435 188 20 8 1 1
NrthWstrn 14 21 264 257 15 14 2 2
TOTAL 170 226 2129 2807 109 128 16 12
AVERAGE 24.3 32.3 304.1 401 15.6 18.3 2.3 1.7


Table 2: Ohio State

  Pts Pts (opp) Yds Yds (opp) Frst Dwns Dwns (opp) TOs TOs (opp)
Minnesota 34 21 414 268 21 18 1 3
Wisconsin 20 17 327 326 17 19 2 2
Purdue 16 3 222 298 14 18 0 2
Mich St. 45 7 332 240 18 14 0 5
Penn St. 6 13 287 281 14 18 2 0
NrthWstrn 45 10 441 294 23 20 0 3
Illinois 30 20 354 455 16 25 1 2
TOTAL 196 91 2377 2162 123 132 6 17
AVERAGE 28 13 339.6 308.9 17.6 18.9 .85 2.4


The values in Table 3 indicate a team’s overall performance, percentage-wise, against the average numbers the common opponents collectively allow.

For example, in the table below, Michigan scored an average of 12% fewer points on these common opponents than what those opponents typically allow, while their defense allowed those same opponents to score 15% more points than what they would typically get, and so on.

Table 3: Performance against what Common Opponents Typically Allow

  % Scoring % Scoring Defense % Yards % Yards Allowed
Worst Michigan Team in History -12 +15 -10 +4
OSU +31 -54 0 -20


The Worst Michigan Team In History gets a lot of guff for its poor offensive performance, but as the charts show, the defense deserves just as much, if not more, blame for this season’s woes. Some rationalize that this is a direct result of the poor offense – “the defense is on the field too much.” But this is absolute bunk. Look at OSU – statistically, their offense is about as poor as UM’s, but OSU is in position to win 10 games this year. Why? Because they have a decent defense. UM has no excuses.

Also: Holy 17 to 6 turnover ratio for OSU, Batman! To me, this is the most satisfying defensive improvement from last season, and the one that’s most likely to impact tomorrow’s game.

Only one question this week:

  • Final score?

sportsMonkey’s Prediction:

  • Ohio State wins its conference record 4th straight Big 10 Championship with a 932 to negative 50 drubbing of The Worst Michigan Team In History.
  • Seriously, OSU, 42-13. Tradition and adrenaline keep it interesting in the first quarter or two, but the Buckeyes pull away and don’t look back.

el Kaiser’s Prediction:
First of all, let me thank sportsMonkey for handling Michigan week for me here at MotSaG while I was away on a business trip to the Freezing tip of Northern Maine, working in the FREEZING cold for hours on end. I had a grand total of 10 minutes of internet the whole week, so I was clueless to what was going on in the ‘Sphere. Of course I had no doubt that SM would skewer the The Worst Michigan Team In History because that’s just how he rolls. And thanks for the trips down Memory Lane, Monkeyman.

So my prediction is for a blowout, OSU: 47 UM: 10


  1. sportsMonkey,

    Nice job with the analysis, thanks. As a long-time Buckeye fan (pre-Woody vs Bo), I still get a little jumpy with this game; leave it to the goddamn Wolverines to pull a game out of their ass, and it has to be this one.

    I’d like to see the Bucks hang 50 on the ‘rines, but who knows? A ‘Twilight Zone’ possibility is for JT to take the air out of the ball and run it 75 times, result should be the same, just not as dramatic. He’ll have you out of the stadium and on your way by 2:00pm.


  2. i’m nervous about this game, just like every game with scUM. i know that beanie will have a huge game. i know that pryor will have a huge game (shades of troy). i know we will win, and i know i will be nervous for every second.

    tOSU: 41
    scUM: 10


  3. My prediction was 34-21, with Michigan getting a worthless TD in the waning seconds. I still think that’ll happen…BUT I HOPE OSU BEATS THEM 75-0!!!!!!!!!!!

    GO BUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!! BEAT MICHIGAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Can’t you just feel that if Woody Hayes had this opportunity he’d try to put 100 points on the board for the Buckeyes? Tressel isn’t like that though, some nonsense about “sportsmanship” or whatever. Pff. I still think the Buckeyes score 5 or 6 touchdowns, and maybe a couple by accident.

    UofM: 17
    OSU: 49

  5. I like you reference to the current Michigan team as the worst team in UM history. You mention OSU being ready. That is the only fear, overconfidence. But they should blow them out.

  6. Is Michigan really THIS bad?


    Will the game be a total washout?


    Not unless Jim Tressel takes the handcuffs off Terrelle Pryor…which won’t happen. Wells and Pryor will make a couple big plays each and build a big enough lead where JT will slam on the breaks and run dive plays the rest of the game until it’s time to put in the seniors to reward them for all their hard work.


    Todd Boeckman will see a lot of playing time in this one.

    OSU: 38
    UM: 9

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