Why The Lions Need The Spartans To Lose

Hello everyone and welcome to the first edition of Michigan Sports Central! I’m your host Paul Cleaveland on this beautiful fall day here in Lansing Michigan; let’s talk some sports.

For those of you that read the about page, you already know what I’m about to tell you. For those of you that haven’t; brace yourselves. While I may be a senior here at MSU, I am a Die-hard Michigan fan. I BLEED Maize and Blue. Hail to the Victors. Etc. I may write a blog post in the future explaining this further, however, today is not that day.

On to today’s topic. Many of you reading this are probably from Michigan. If you aren’t, you must just REALLY like Michigan Sports, but who could blame you? I was born and raised in Michigan; growing up both a Michigan fan, as well as a Lions fan. Since I was about 12, my weekends have been filled with 3 activities: rooting for Michigan, against State, and for the Lions. In this time, I couldn’t help but realize a slightly regular occurrence. Being as big a fan as I am, my weekend and subsequent week’s happiness were usually dependent upon the outcome of how my sports teams performed.

About 2 weeks ago, during the Saturday that we had our first meeting together in #NMDL, Michigan was just coming off a huge win in The Big House against Notre Dame; state was just coming off their second consecutive week of barely slipping by, and the Lions were coming off a week one victory over the Vikings. Life was good… until Akron came to town. For whatever reason, Akron, a team that hadn’t ever beaten an FBS school, failed to win on an incomplete pass at Michigan’s goal line. Michigan didn’t win, Akron lost. On the same weekend, Michigan State decimated Youngstown St for their first decisive win of the season. Needless to say, my Saturday wasn’t going well.

As per my Sunday schedule, I headed out to my girlfriend’s dad’s house to watch the Lions game. The Lions had a semi-tough week 2 road game in Arizona. As the Lions struggled, we got on the subject of Saturday’s excitement. He too is a Michigan fan, and we began talking about the close game. As the Lions game drew closer to the end, defeat inevitable, I uttered my usual speculation, “Just as I suspected; another terrible Michigan performance, another mediocre State blowout, and another Lions loss.” His response was one of disbelief, “Oh c’mon, that has nothin to do with anything. The Lions just SUCKED today.”

I respectfully disagreed.

The following day as I sat in my Economics of Sports class, I decided that after almost 10 years of saying the same thing week in and week out that it was finally time to put my theory to the test.

Lions ChartMethod to my Madness:

  • Take record of the past 5 years of Lions, Wolverines, and spartan football
  • Record wins, losses, and bye-weeks for each team
  • Only take into account the weeks in which the college teams played the same week as the Lions.
  • Separate my findings into 9 conditions
  • Divide the number of games the Lions won in that condition, by the total occurrences of said condition to derive a win % based on condition.

To the right you will find a spreadsheet of games that were played between the 2008 and 2012 seasons. You will note the date the game was played, followed by Michigan’s W/L, state’s W/L, and Lions W/L. Lastly, you will find a color coded 5 conditions which you will see in detail in the Results Chart. I removed all games in which the Lions had a bye week, because the results were rendered irrelevant. I noted where Michigan and state had bye weeks however.

In this next chart, you will be able to see for yourself the Lions’ win % based on the condition of the previous Saturday.

You can all see for yourself the percentages, so I won’t rehash what you can do for yourselves, but I will point out the obvious. The Lions do better when Michigan Wins, and State Loses, in any situation. For those of you that happen to be Lions fans and spartan fans, I’ve got some harsh words for you. It appears as though you cannot have your cake and eat it too. If you want the Lions to succeed, your best shot at that happening is when Michigan wins and state loses.

Here’s one last finding I discovered. In 2008, Michigan had their worst season in school history. In over 100 years of football, never had they gone 3-9. But thanks to Rod-Reek-Ass, he made that a reality, smashing countless other blemish free traditions in school history. You may remember another landmark in 2008…

The same year Michigan jad it’s worst ever season, our beloved Lions set a team AND NFL record by becoming the first team to lose EVERY SINGLE GAME… The Rams came close to tying the record in 2009, however avoided this by going 1-15. Their 1 win was against Detroit. I digress.

In 2011, Brady Hoke’s first year at the Michigan helm, they went 11-2, with a victory in the BCS Sugar Bowl. The Lions also went to the playoffs for the first time in 12 years.

As the clock winds down on the inaugural edition of MSC, I just wanted to take a minute to make sure this week’s thought has completely sunk in. I am not sating that the spartans MUST lose for the Lions to win, but I do want to make it clear that the odds are severely against the Lions when they do.

I┬áhope you’ve all enjoyed the show, tune in next week to talk about all the happenings in Michigan sports; including:

  • Detroit Tiger’s opening playoff series against the Oakland Athletics
  • Michigan’s B1G opener against 4-1 Minnesota
  • state’s B1G opener against 4-1 Iowa
  • And the Lions big division game against the Packers.

Good game,