April 17, 2012

Borton's Blog: By the numbers

It's time for a did-you-know dive into Michigan football. There's a long, hard stretch between now and the night of Sept. 1, and the debate over whether Elliott Mealer, Joey Burzynski or Kyle Kalis will start at left guard only gets you so far.

So here are a few facts to ponder along the way…

• Michigan hasn't won a Big Ten football championship since 2004. That seven-year itch represents its longest dry spell since U-M teams went from 1951-1963 (13 seasons) without the "leaders and best" tag ringing wholly true. Brady Hoke has winning the Big Ten at the top of his list, and it only makes sense. Get that done, and you're in position to accomplish almost anything.

• With a bowl win this season, Michigan could pull to an even .500 in post-season encounters, at 21-21. The Wolverines haven't been even with the board on bowl games since they lost the Alamo Bowl to Nebraska on Dec, 28, 2005.

• Hoke became just the third coach in college football to lead a team to a BCS bowl victory in his first season as head coach of a team. He was only the eighth to get a group to a BCS bowl in year one.

• If Michigan starts the 2012 season out at 5-1, Hoke will have won more games as head coach in a year and a half (16) than Rich Rodriguez did in three full years (15). Michigan has featured 18 head coaches (actually 19, counting the Mike Murphy/Frank Crawford combo in 1891) and Hoke has already passed five (six) of them on the wins list. He moved past Murphy/Crawford (4), George Little (6), Biff Lea (7), William Ward (9) and Tad Wieman (9).

Reachable this year are Frank Barbour (14), Rodriguez, William McCauley (17) and with a season to remember, Gustave Ferbert (24). Three Michigan coaches have topped 100 wins - Bo Schembechler (194), Fielding H. Yost (165) and Lloyd Carr (122).

• Michigan and Oklahoma State emerged from the 2011 season as the only two teams in the country posting nine wins over opponents that played in bowl games.

• The Wolverines make appearances in three venues they've never played in before this season - Cowboys Stadium in Dallas for the opener, Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb., and TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn.

• Michigan led the nation in fumble recoveries last season, with 20. It forced 29 turnovers in all, best in the Big Ten and tied for 19th in the country.

• The Wolverines were the best in the Big Ten at red zone touchdown defensive efficiency, and fourth in the nation (No. 1 in the conference) in red zone defense scoring efficiency.

• At the other end of the spectrum, they wound up 117th in the country in kick returns (18.4 average), 108th in average punting (38.0) and 109th in net punting (33.4).

• Denard Robinson averaged 257.6 yards of total offense per game in 2011, first in the Big Ten and 32nd in the country. He has accumulated 8,160 career yards. If he keep up his pace from last year, he would become Michigan's all-time leader in career yards in the fifth game of the season, at Purdue. He trails only John Navarre (8,995) and Chad Henne (9,300) in that category.

Also, Robinson has accounted for 35 rushing touchdowns in his career. He trails only Chris Perry (39), Mike Hart (41), Tyrone Wheatley (47) and Anthony Thomas (55) on that list.

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