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Nebraska 39, Michigan State 38: The football universe makes a course correction

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Eric Francis/Getty Images

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Top 5 Plays

Play.Number

Offense

Down

Distance

Spot

Quarter

Play_Description

Pred

WPA

1

193

Michigan State

1

10

41

4

Connor Cook Pass to Josiah Price for 0

0.473

0.527

2

188

Nebraska

2

10

30

4

Tommy Armstrong Jr. Pass to Brandon Reilly for 30, TOUCHDOWN

0.368

0.268

3

118

Nebraska

2

7

7

3

Tommy Armstrong Jr. Pass INTERCEPTED

0.561

-0.179

4

174

Nebraska

3

1

1

4

Tommy Armstrong Jr. Rush for 1, TOUCHDOWN

0.098

0.158

5

92

Michigan State

3

9

18

2

Connor Cook Pass to Macgarrett Kings Jr. for 18, TOUCHDOWN

0.571

-0.152

Win probabilities get a little bit funky in the last minute of a super-tight game, so it probably isn't the case that State had a 53% chance of winning with the ball at the NU 41 with 7 seconds left. But it gives me a chance to point out that ... wow, did State blow at least a slight opportunity there. Michael Geiger's long field goal this year is 47, and obviously State wasn't quite in reliable field position yet, but you HAVE TO know the clock and throw the ball away and at least get one more play out of those last seven seconds.

Nebraska 39, Michigan State 38

Confused? Visit the Advanced Stats glossary here.

Basics Michigan State Nebraska Nat'l Avg
Total Plays 73 69
Close Rate (non-garbage time) 100.0%
Avg Starting FP 30.8 32.8 29.7
Possessions 12 12
Scoring Opportunities*
7 9
Points Per Opportunity 5.43 4.56 4.75
Leverage Rate** 71.2% 73.9% 68.1%
Close S&P*** 0.642 0.687 0.586
* A scoring opportunity occurs when an offense gets a first down inside the opponent's 40 (or scores from outside the 40).
** Leverage Rate = Standard Downs / (Standard Downs + Passing Downs)
*** When using IsoPPP, the S&P formula is (0.8*Success Rate) + (0.2*IsoPPP)
EqPts (what's this?) Michigan State Nebraska
Total 46.6 48.5
Rushing 11.9 16.9
Passing 34.7 31.6
Success Rate (what's this?) Michigan State Nebraska Nat'l Avg
All (close) 43.8% 52.2% 41.6%
Rushing (close) 35.3% 61.1% 42.5%
Passing (close) 51.3% 42.4% 40.7%
Standard Downs 40.4% 56.9% 46.9%
Passing Downs 52.4% 38.9% 30.5%
IsoPPP (what's this?) Michigan State Nebraska Nat'l Avg
All (close) 1.46 1.35 1.27
Rushing (close) 0.99 0.77 1.07
Passing (close) 1.74 2.26 1.48
Standard Downs 1.24 1.16 1.11
Passing Downs 1.86 2.14 1.77
Line Stats Michigan State Nebraska Nat'l Avg
Line Yards/Carry (what's this?) 2.26 3.18 2.87
Std. Downs Sack Rt. 0.0% 0.0% 4.9%
Pass. Downs Sack Rt. 0.0% 0.0% 7.5%
Turnovers Michigan State Nebraska
Turnovers 1 2
Turnover Points (what's this?) 2.8 9.6
Turnover Margin Michigan State +1
Exp. TO Margin Nebraska +0.29
TO Luck (Margin vs. Exp. Margin) Michigan State +1.29
TO Points Margin Michigan State +6.8 points
Situational Michigan State Nebraska
Q1 S&P 0.560 0.654
Q2 S&P 0.686 0.511
Q3 S&P 0.864 0.796
Q4 S&P 0.552 0.754
1st Down S&P 0.626 0.768
2nd Down S&P 0.560 0.740
3rd Down S&P 0.665 0.659
Projected Scoring Margin: Michigan State by 4.9
Actual Scoring Margin: Nebraska by 1

After all that's happened this year -- NU suffering tons of gut-wrenching finishes, State beating Michigan the way it did -- perhaps this game was just the universe making an Apollo 13-esque course correction. I doubt NU fans are in the mood to apologize. But it's still never fun for a game to end in controversial fashion, as this one did with NU's TD. That, and State's late clock issues, created a results that turnovers had made unlikely. But NU still had a pretty incredible night from an efficiency standpoint and put itself at least in position to benefit from such a break. So there's that.