Five Factors – Michigan State

Courtesy: (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Courtesy: (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

A 14 point deficit.  Two missed field goals.  A second chance in overtime from the other team’s penalty.  This wasn’t a game Indiana generally wins.  Yet, here they are at 3-1.  Just like everyone predicted.  It’s time to dig in raise the flag.


isoPPP Explosive % Yards/play
INDIANA 1.5 10% 6.5
MSU 1.3 9% 5.8

Indiana had a 10% explosive rate overall, but 17% of the passing plays were explosive compared to just 5% of the rushes.  Tyler Natee had an 11 yard run in the 2nd quarter and Devine Redding went for 44 yards on his hurdle/fumble run.[ref]If you check out ESPN’s box score they only have the run listed as a 36 yard run, but it was clearly 44 yards which is how the NCAA reflects it.[/ref]  That was it over 10 yards on the ground.  In the air, things were stagnant early but Lagow was able to get it going as the game progressed.  On back-to-back scoring drives late in the 3rd and into the 4th quarter, Lagow had passes of 57, 40, and 22 yards.

Michigan State had more explosive plays than IU would prefer allowing, but it wasn’t crippling.  Even after allowing a touchdown of 86 yards in the first, the longest play allowed by Indiana of the year, the Hoosiers wouldn’t allow a play over 24 yards the rest of the way.


All (close) Rushing (close) Passing (close)
INDIANA 40% 31% 54%
MSU 38% 39% 38%


A close matchup here as Indiana had just the slightest of advantages.  As expected, the Hoosiers had a tough time rushing the ball against a tough Spartan defense.  While Devine Redding had the big day overall, a near majority of his yardage came on one play.  While he ran hard, he only managed a 26% success rate.  Tyler Natee emerged with 10 carries, 50% of which were considered successful.[ref]He also had a pass attempt.  Unsuccessful by all accounts[/ref]  Situationally, on 3rd and 4 or less, Indiana converted 4 of 5 attempts in which they rushed.

The passing game took time to get in gear and the success rate by quarter reflects that: 33%, 43%, 56%, 83%.

Michigan State was essentially successful the same via the rush or pass.  When Indiana was able to force Michigan State to pass in obvious passing downs, the Spartans were only successful 24% of the time.  Part of the reason IU was able to get MSU into these situations was Indiana’s ability to slow down Sparty’s running game on first down.  Rushes on first down were successful just 29%.

Field Position

Avg Starting FP
MSU 25

The first factor that had an advantage either way.  Indiana enjoyed a nearly 12 yard starting field position advantage, on average.  Taking out overtime and that number jumps to 13.  Regulation only, not one time did Michigan State start in Indiana territory.  That is huge for the improving Indiana defense.  Additionally, the Spartans started one drive at their own 3 yard line.  I didn’t hate the decision to go for it,[ref]Certainly you can question the play call.  But I think if you hated that play call, you need to disagree with the Paige to Lagow play call later.  Certainly not much different in terms of trickery, just the result.[/ref] at worst the opponent is backed up inside their down 5 yard line compared to normally starting at the 25 following a kickoff.

Indiana, meanwhile, started near midfield twice in the first half and then started at the MSU 31 yard line following Mitchell Paige’s punt return in the 3rd quarter.  None of these possessions led to points.  Leading us to…

Finishing Drives

Scoring Opportunities Points Per Opportunity
MSU 6 3.5

Indiana’s problems continued as they went 5 STRAIGHT SCORING OPPORTUNITIES WITHOUT SCORING A POINT.[ref]If you read Bill Connelly’s work, and you should, you’ll notice he only has 8 scoring opportunities for Indiana.  I assume the one he isn’t listing is the possession where IU had 1st and 10 at the MSU 33, but a holding call on Wes Rogers backed Indiana up 10 yards.  While they never actually ran a play inside the 40 yard line, they did have a 1st down inside the 40 so we are counting it here.[/ref]  The problems: penalty, interception, missed field goal, turnover on downs, and another missed field goal.  Fortunately, IU was able to overcome this inability by again earning more scoring opportunities than their opponents.  Following the 5 opportunities with no points, IU reeled off 4 straight opportunities[ref]Not counting the final play of regulation kneel down[/ref] for 24 points.  After early struggles, closing with 9 straight scoring opportunities was impressive.

Michigan State was able to earn 6 opportunities, but wasn’t much better at converting than Indiana.  They had a field goal blocked, a penalty that eventually resulted in a punt, and missed the overtime field goal.  Thankfully MSU didn’t convert in the 4.5-5.5 points per opportunity range.


Turnovers Turnover Points Added
MSU 1 3.8

Both teams had mistakes that lead to a turnover, but overall it was a clean[ref] Except for all those penalties…[/ref], close game.