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New Math - Central Michigan Edition

If you need help with terms or definitions, try these two links first:

Link to glossary:

Link to secondary glossary:

If you still need clarification, ask in the comments.

I was particularly impressed with some of the dialogue, and questions, in the comments last week. Good work, and keep that up.

No matter how you slice this game, there's no doubt it was a thorough, convincing, win for MSU. But let's see what more we can uncover:

MSU 41, CMU 7


Close % 61.90%
Enemy Territory % 60.00% 33.33%
Success Rate 55.77% 33.33%
Leverage % 69.33% 60.00%
PPP 0.472 0.131

S&P 1.030 0.464

EqPts 31.282 9.498
Close Success Rate 47.73% 37.84%
Success Rate 34.78% 33.33%
Close PPP 0.444 0.113
PPP 0.293 0.199
Close S&P 0.922 0.491
S&P 0.640 0.533

EqPts 12.989 3.311
Number 1 3
Close Success Rate 50.00% 45.45%
Points off turnovers 7 10
Close PPP 0.417 0.171

Close S&P 0.917 0.626

Q1 S&P 0.812 0.086

Q2 S&P 1.053 0.686
Q3 S&P 1.204 0.468
EqPts 18.293 6.185
Q4 S&P 0.671 0.537
Close Success Rate 46.43% 34.62%
1st Down S&P 0.767 0.496125
Close PPP 0.460 0.089
2nd Down S&P 1.013 0.56545
Close S&P 0.924 0.435
3rd Down S&P 1.023 0.4188

Big Plays 7 4
Yards Per Point 11.83 35.00
Yards Per Play 6.47 4.08
Penalties 6 for 40 0 for 0
Run-Pass 50.67% 36.67%

1. Camping in enemy territory

In heavy part thanks to 3 turnovers (one at the CMU 49, one recovered at the CMU 28, and one returned to the CMU 18), MSU was able to run a majority of their plays in CMU territory. This allowed the Spartans a low-risk 4th down conversion that led to the team's first touchdown, as well as two field goal attempts on short drives that stalled.

In contrast, CMU ran a much lower percentage of their plays in MSU territory, and, perhaps critically, did not run a single offensive play within the Red Zone (within MSU's 20 yard-line).

2. The value of 'close' stats and blowing a game open

This game was functionally over by halftime and, as per guidelines, the 'close' stats only track plays up until the game gets out of reach (the threshold for this changes quarter by quarter. MSU's 24-0 lead triggered the 'garbage time clause' just before halftime). This (at least for the 'close' measures) eliminates skew when either the team that is way down scores meaningless touchdowns, or when a team who is way up really pours it on a helpless opponent. Close game measures instead look at only when both teams can be reasonably counted on to be maximally focused, fit, playing their 1st stringers, etc.

While this game was close, you can a large gap open up between the two teams when looking at something as simple as 'explosive offensive plays' for each team.

MSU's five longest gains in the 1st half were:

1. Maxwell to Fowler for 37 yards

2. Maxwell to Mumphery for 30 yards

3. Maxwell to Sims for 20 yards (TD)

4. Maxwell to Sims for 17 yards

5. Maxwell to Fowler for 13 yards

while CMU's five longest gains in the 1st half were:

1.Radcliff to Davis for 16 yards

2. Radcliff to Wilson for 14 yards

3. Anthony Garland rush for 13 yards

4. Zurlon Tipton rush for 11 yards

5. Radcliff to Wilson for 10 yards

Particularly at the top, you can see the difference between how MSU was able to move the ball in the 1st half and how CMU was. Though CMU could dink and dunk their way down the field, they inevitably ran out of lives on these long drives and turned the ball over, either through INT, fumble, or on downs. In contrast, MSU was able to move in large chunks of turf, particularly devastating in combination with their shorter fields.

Though CMU was able to pull off a few bigger plays in the second half, it was too late, and they were also gashed by Caper and Arnett for massive yardage on the other side of the ball.

Please keep Maxwell in favorable down and distance

In a way, the team has seemed built to do this, with Bell taking so few negative plays on the ground, and Maxwell not taking sacks through the air, but it's easy to see why a continuation of these trends will help the MSU passing game.

In fact, the splits on this question show you two totally different quarterbacks in the same body.

On 1st and 10, or anything 2nd and 7 or longer, or 3rd and 7 or longer, Maxwell has the profile of a reckless, inaccurate, mistake-prone, gunslinger with the occasional upside of a big completion:

Andrew Maxwell 'Bad' Passing Downs
Situation Comp Att Comp % Yards YPA TD INT
1st and 10 13 24 54.17% 166 6.92 1 2
2nd and 7 or more 11 17 64.71% 102 6.00 0 0
3 and 7+ 4 11 36.36% 75 6.82 0 1
total 28 52 53.85% 343 6.60 1 3

On anything 2nd and 6 or shorter, or 3rd and 6 or shorter, Maxwell transforms into a clinical, hyper-efficient, assassin, who is highly accurate, while still being able to hit big plays down-field:

Andrew Maxwell 'Good' Passing Downs
Situation Comp Att Comp % Yards YPA TD INT
2nd and 6 or less 6 8 75.00% 114 14.25 0 0
3rd and 6 or less 8 9 88.89% 69 7.67 1 0
total 14 17 82.35% 183 10.76 1 0

I don't know about you, but I want to see more Assassin Maxwell. Favorable down and distance. Favorable down and distance. This needs to be the passing game mantra.


This is the sort of walkover you expect vs. an over-matched MAC opponent (if we're lucky we'll dispatch a bad EMU team with similar ease in two weeks). But now, so soon after Boise State, we have another difficult challenge under the lights of Spartan Stadium in Notre Dame. This is a big yardstick game for MSU, and if MSU is able to measure up, the whole country is going to have to take notice.