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ND 20, MSU 3
|Close %||95.83%||STANDARD DOWNS|
|Enemy Territory %||30.51%||27.42%||Success Rate||36.59%||40.54%|
|Close Success Rate||30.51%||32.26%||Success Rate||11.54%||20.00%|
|Close Success Rate||21.05%||31.03%||Points off turnovers||3||0|
|Close S&P||0.375||0.595||BY QUARTER|
|Close Success Rate||35.00%||33.33%||1st Down S&P||0.423||0.571|
|Close PPP||0.138||0.278||2nd Down S&P||0.419||0.896|
|Close S&P||0.488||0.611||3rd Down S&P||0.342||0.213|
|Big Plays||1||4||Yards Per Point||77.00||15.70|
|Yards Per Play||3.92||5.06||Penalties||5 for 56 yards||6 for 41 yards|
I don't have much deep insight for this one, I'm afraid (which is why I'm craftily admitting this after the jump). Sometimes no form of analysis in the world will allow you to escape the fact that a game went down in flames at around the point where five guys couldn't block three guys and one team was dropping passes that were hitting them in two hands, while the other was catching passes that hit them in one.
But I'll give it a shot (it's not very optimistic on this game).
Even in that awful game, MSU did actually 'win' a quarter.
The third quarter, but I wouldn't necessarily get too excited. The result came mostly from a stifling defensive performance (ND ran 14 plays with a long gain of just 9 yards over those 15 minutes) than from any real offensive punch.
MSU's passing game did hit a couple long gains, a 22 yard strike to Mumphery and a 23 yard catch and run to Dion Sims. The problem was, as it was all game, that MSU was simply to far backed up in their own half of the field. The passes to Sims and Mumphery got the team only to its own 35, and 32 respectively.
After those long gains led to no points, the offense became one dimensional in the 4th quarter (no doubt these spurts of offensive productivity from the passing game earned more trust from the coaching staff than anything the ground game had shown, and now the clock was an issue) and their performance cratered.
S&P sees this game as 'closer' than the Boise game
But I don't think that means this game was closer than the score indicated (well, not much closer), I think that means the Boise game was closer than it should have been. My general theme of last year's ND game was that it was a really close game that got blown apart by a KO return for a TD and an untimely red zone interception. This game was what it was, I guess barring that final late ND FG after a TO on downs.
This offense was just brutal when it fell behind the chains
Like, definitely still below average when things were going well, but once things got to 2nd and 8, 3rd and 10, you might as well have just sent the punt team out. Drops and 1.5 new players on the offensive line will likely cause these issues, but these are just unbelievably bad numbers for MSU on passing downs. This level of badness is an outlier for now, but is something to keep an eye on, as Fonoti (the prominent variable) is out for quite a while.
This defensive game plan almost worked
MSU was pretty awful on 3rd downs, but ND was still considerably worse. MSU forced ND into a 3rd down on about 22.5% of their plays, a fine enough number, and when they got to third down, when you were sitting there muttering, "Come on, get 'em off the field." MSU almost always did. All MSU really needed to do was survive til 3rd down when they could get their more confusing pressure packages on the field, crank up the noise, and go after a young quarterback.
The problem was, on a handful of offensive snaps primarily, as we can see, on 2nd down, ND absolutely went off. And if you're converting nice plays on 2nd down, that means you're forestalling the next third down at least two plays further into the future. The Fighting Irish were able to glide down the field in this manner on the three drives they needed to put this game out of doubt (on their two touchdown drives they faced zero, ZERO, 3rd down situations).