Our defense is amazing, our QB and O-line play is better, but none of those are my favorite improvement from last years team that often came up inches short at the end of games. Of course scoring more points and wining would have to be #1, but a close second is seeing our coaches make good half time adjustments so we play better after the break on both sides of the ball.
FIRST HALF STATS for B10 GAMES
Time of possession
MSU 85 minutes
Opponents 65 minutes
Points scored in the first half
Difference 28 extra first half points ( we won the first halves by 4 TD's, or an average of 13-7 )
Now this is what I found after the coaches half time adjustments:
SECOND HALF STATS for B10 GAMES
Time of possession
MSU 98 minutes
Opponents 52 minutes
Difference 46 extra minutes controlling the ball in the second half ( we held the ball for almost twice as long as our opponents did in the second half )
MSU 1,207 ( our offensive production increased by 43% over the first half )
Opponents 444 ( our defense limited our opponents to 36% less yardage than they did in the first half )
Difference 763 extra yards gained in the second half. ( That means that our offense moved the ball over 7 football fields more than our opponents, and almost 4 more than our own offense did in the first halves )
Points scored in the second half
MSU 88 ( over 3 more touchdowns scored in the same amount of time )
Opponents 14 ( IND is the only B10 to even score a point on us in the second half of a game, or if you prefer we totally shut out Iowa, IND, ILL and UM in the second half )
Difference 74 extra second half points ( we won the second half by an average score of 18-3, or we won the second halves by over 10 TD's whichever is more impressive)
So this year you do not have to worry about the wheels coming off in the fourth quarter like they seemed to last year, the stats confirm we actually get stronger and play better as the game goes on.
Another reason to like our chances against NE is Conner Cook actually plays better on the road than at home, which should come in handy the next two games and in Indianapolis.
FBS Games at home - Cook has fairly pedestrian numbers:
QB rating of 47 ( out of 100 )
He completes 56% of his passes gaining 5.8 yards per attempt
He averages 134 passing yards per game.
He throws 0.6 touchdowns per game, and 0.4 interceptions per game.
FBS Games on the road Cook is a much better QB
QB rating of 57
He completes 62% of his passes gaining 6.9 yards per attempt
He averages 207 passing yards per game.
He throws 2 touchdowns per game, and 0.3 interceptions per game.
Finally Cook is not the only one that plays better on the road, the entire team does.
MSU is an amazing 11-3 (79%) on the road in the big ten since 2010.
If that does not impress you enough here are the percentages for the other top programs big ten road wins over the same time frame:
MSU 11-3 (79%)
OSU 6-3 (68%) and still only 9-4 (69%) if you include the vacated 2010 year
NE 6-4 (60%)
WIS 9-6 (60%)
Pn St 7-6 (54%)
UM 6-8 (43%)
NW 6-9 (40%)
With our defense, good half time adjustments, and the normal road performance from Cook we should have a convincing victory over Nebraska and add to our amazing road warrior status.