I’m just here to fulfill the over/under obligations in my lucrative contact with PJP. While it is very unlikely that Indiana wins this week, or possibly even stays within striking distance, let these over/unders serve as an additional reason to watch the game.
1. Indiana non-garbage passing yards per attempt – Over/Under 5.99
Michigan is allowing a national-best 4.8 yards per pass attempt and in the Harbaugh-era has finished 1st in 2015 and 2016 and 6th in 2017. Offensively, Indiana ranks lower on the list, 103rd, at 6.5 yards per attempt. However, the Hoosiers got wild last week against Maryland with 8.7 yards per attempt, their best of the season. This followed their worst performance in this area against Minnesota when Ramsey averaged just 5.3 yards per attempt. While the Hoosiers might struggle to reach a high passing yards per attempt in this one, if you are into completion percentage then this game will be one to watch. Indiana’s 16th ranked completion percentage at 67% will be countered by Michigan’s 47% completion rate allowed, best in the nation. Can we petition to make this a PPR game?
2. Indiana non-garbage success rate – Over/Under 35%
Indiana has a 44% success rate this season which ranks 43rd nationally. The team’s rushing is slightly below 44% while the passing game (including QB scrambles on sack-avoiding plays) has been slightly above. On the rushing side, Stevie Scott has been efficient at 48% while Peyton Ramsey, IU’s 2nd leading rusher, has not been on designed (or RPO) rushes. His rushing success rate is just 40%. The passing game, as expected, has seen efficiency from slot receivers Luke Timian and Whop Philyor. Obviously explosiveness plays an important role which is what you’d expect more of from outside receivers, but it’s also important to move the chains. It will especially be important against a Michigan team that is 2nd best in the nation in defensive success rate at 29% and has finished 1st the last 2 seasons. Last season, IU had a success rate of 31% against Michigan. The year before it was 33%.
3. Michigan average third down distance – Over/Under 6.5
Michigan is 4th nationally in 3rd down conversion rate at 50%. A main reason their 3rd down conversion rate is so strong is their average third down distance is the lowest in the nation at 5.7 yards. Often a team’s 3rd down conversion rate is highly correlated with what they do on 1st and 2nd down. Michigan is no exception. If the Hoosiers have a shot, they cannot let Michigan convert on 3rd down, which means they need to force the Wolverines into difficult 3rd and longs. Indiana’s average 3rd down distance faced is 7.3, 79th nationally, and they are allowing a 42% conversion rate, 91st nationally.
4. Michigan offensive stuff rate – Over/Under 17.1%
Part of the reason that Michigan avoids 3rd and longs is because they are above average in stuff rate, the percentage of rushes going for no gain or a loss. The Wolverines aren’t dominant in this regard. Their stuff rate is 17.4%, 41st nationally. For reference, Stevie Scott has a stuff rate of just 11% which has to be in the top 10 percentile. Indiana, as a team, isn’t far off from Michigan. The Hoosiers have a stuff rate of 17.8%. However, Michigan will be going against an Indiana defense that is 102nd nationally at 16.5% and Indiana will be going up against Michigan’s elite defense allowing a stuff rate of 26.1%, 8th nationally.
5. Indiana non-game-winning field goal attempts on 4th and 4 or fewer – Over/Under 0.5
If it is still close during the 4th quarter, it should become clear what IU needs to do score-wise to win. I say this regretfully remembering the Michigan State game last season where IU attempted a field goal on 4th and 1 from the MSU 10 that extended IU’s lead to 9-3. For this O/U, we’ll define the term “non-game-winning” as any field goal attempt that doesn’t result in the final lead change. Game-winning would be something such as attempting a field goal, down 1, on a 4th and 1 with under 3 minutes left. Something, say, that happened last week. Anyway, if Indiana is going to beat Michigan, it won’t be on field goals. The 3 field goal attempts, particularly on the two 4th and 3s, that IU attempted against Minnesota won’t cut it against Michigan. It may seem risky, going for it on 4th down in hopes of eventually scoring a touchdown, instead of settling for the more likely 3 points. But the NCAA still awards losses whether you lose by 1 or 31, so IU might as well go out swinging.
6. Michigan winning margin – Over/Under 27.5
Vegas opened with Michigan as a 26.5 point favorite. Meanwhile, Bill Connelly at Football Study Hall has Michigan as a 28.6 point favorite.
If you are picking the over, you are picking Michigan to win by 28+ points. If you are picking the under, you are picking Michigan to lose or win by 27 or fewer points.
This over/under is worth 2 points so make it a good one.
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