Ran across an interesting stat while watching the Big Ten Network’s Football Preview for Michigan State:
12 losses by 8 points or less since 2007 (Dantonio’s tenure)
The context around the stat was that a focus for MSU this season needs to be doing a better job of closing out games. The Spartans lost 4 games last year after leading the game after the 4th quarter (against Central Michigan, Iowa and Minnesota) – if my math serves me right, that’s the difference between 6-7 and 10-3.
So it got me thinking, is 12 losses by 8 points or less – 3rd most in the nation in that time period – necessarily a bad thing compared to previous Spartan history? In short, the answer is no.
As you can, under Coach Dantonio the Spartans have actually had the highest positive margin of points per game versus opponents (+4.3 PPG) since Nick Saban (+4.8 PPG). Under the last five coaches, only Bobby Williams had a negative overall point differential versus opponents at -1.6 PPG.
What does it all mean? It tells me that yes, the Spartans have certainly been in close games under Coach Dantonio. But compared to previous MSU coaches, Dantonio has actually had a greater overall point differential against opponents under his tenure. We need to do a better job closing out games, but Coach Dantonio has been able to get this program to a point where we are competing to win close games that otherwise probably would have been solid wins for the opponent.