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The complementary football scorecard: Michigan

How did Iowa do against Michigan and where do they stand relative to the Big Ten through 5 games?

NCAA Football: Michigan at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Iowa Hawkeyes played a tackle football game this past weekend. They had some good moments, it seemed, and they felt like they happened exclusively on plays where they also committed penalties. It amounted to under 100 yards before mounting the perfunctory comeback attempt in the late 3rd quarter with Michigan up 20-0.

How they had a chance to make it a single possession game, I’ll never understand. Why they tried to make it so on a play they ran twice before in the series, I’ll understand even less, though it was executed well enough to understand why they did it. Sam LaPorta probably gets six with a pass that isn’t wretched. (Though it would have been called back anyways)

Here are the stats from Saturday via Team Rankings.

Last week in complementary football

(Reminder of the weightings here and stats here)

50% - Win or loss: No win here. See commentary above. I wasn’t expecting the W preseason or in the lead-up to the game so expectations were met here.

33% - turnovers, time of possession, & offensive touchdowns: This was Iowa’s third game where they went without a turnover. Was that actually what Kirk Ferentz wanted to see out of Spencer Petras post-ISU with a fuller complement of receivers? Time of possession was buoyed by Michigan’s prevent defense in the second half, as Iowa had a drive which took 6:56 in the fourth quarter. They finished the with 26:16, good for 107th in the land. Two TDs (84th) isn’t much to write home about, especially since it was garbage time, but it’s the most Iowa’s put up against a Power 5 school since the Citrus Bowl (also 2). A depressing stat is the last time Iowa had three (or more) offensive touchdowns against a Power 5 team was November 2021’s game against Minnesota. Before that? The Maryland game a year ago.

17% - 3rd down conversion, yards/carry, completion percentage, QB sacks: 4 of 11 (69th) was passable but the intertwined nature of the 1.5 YPC (122nd) and 4 sacks (104th) really bring this component down. Worth noting that Iowa’s 67.7% completion percentage (35th) was the highest since 70% against Kent State last year. The thing about Iowa’s completion percentage is how important those misses can be, though. Three straight in the second quarter with Iowa down just 10 felt like nails in the coffin.

All together, That gets the Iowa’s complementary football score to ... (.50 * 0) + (.33 * .51) + (.17 * .37) = .23.

I promised you a season update two weeks ago and didn’t follow through post-Rutgers game while I was on vacation. APOLOGIES. We were too busy moving ourselves from Sanibel Island to South Beach. You’ll get it now.

Since the season-long statistics void out FCS games, Iowa’s 5 turnovers in 5 games turns into 3 turnovers in 4 games, good for 10th in the country. The good news ends there as Iowa’s other six statistics rank no higher than 93rd! (sacks)

Good news, if it exists, is that Iowa isn’t dead last in of any of these statistics within the conference so we won’t have a graphic like this:

Turnovers: 10th (2nd in Big Ten)
Time of Possession: 115th (12th)
Offensive TDs: 112th (13th)
3rd Down Conversion %: 102th (13th)
Yards/Carry: 108th (12th)
Completion %: 95th (12th)
Sacks: 93rd (12th)

Throw it into the formula and Iowa’s Complementary Football Aggregate is a delightful .34, above only Indiana. Both have managed 3-2 records.

Here’s where the math gets fun. Taking the data from 2017 to 2021, we can estimate Iowa’s winning percentage based on that .34. The resulting .408 win rate would translate into 5-7 on the season. Perhaps what is most interesting is only the 2018 iteration underperformed (and just barely). This means two things and they are mutually exclusive: either Iowa faces some deep regression OR Kirk Ferentz is so good at managing teams with this style of play that we see a bump up.

The third option, I suppose, is we see Iowa improve on these metrics. If more straightforward stats (points and yards/game) are any indication, Iowa faces an uphill climb to get to even last year’s regular season averages. The Hawks would have to average 32 points and 340 yards over the next seven games to get to 2021 levels of ineptitude. Iowa has scored that many points (on offense) just once since the beginning of 2021.

With some of the top rated defenses still on Iowa’s schedule, the road remains tough sledding so it’s difficult to see it getting tangibly better.