This is the week 11 update of college football team rankings produced by a semi-objective model as described previously here. The model was inspired by Seth's post that proposed a point system to determine bowl eligibility. These rankings aim to be a relatively objective starting point from which to apply considerations such as the eye test, margin of victory, and head-to-head results.
This week, I've made some adjustments based on feedback from last week's post:
- Notre Dame and BYU are now considered P5 teams.
- Ties in rankings are broken by head-to-head results, winning percentage, and opponent winning percentage, in that order.
- Corrected a few mistakes in game results.
- Implemented an averaging algorithm to be applied if a system does not converge.
- +3 points for a conference championship.
- +4 points for a win over a top 10 team.
- +3 points for a win over a top 25 team (not in top 10).
- +2 points for a win over a winning P5 team (not in the top 25).
- +1 point for a win over a winning G5 or a losing P5 team.
- +0 points for a win over a losing G5 or any FCS team.
- -1 point for a loss to a top 10 team.
- -2 points for a loss to a top 25 team (not in top 10).
- -3 points for a loss to a winning P5 team (not in ttop 25).
- -4 points for a loss to a losing P5 or any G5/FCS team.
Week 11 Results
|36||'San Diego State'||-3|
|107||'New Mexico State'||-22|
|111||'San Jose State'||-24|
Below is an analysis of the different Power 5 conference divisional races with two weeks to go in the regular season. I even included the Big 12 this time. Shit just got crazy in a lot of these races. It will be an interesting finish to the regular season.
The “Too Long, Didn’t Read” Recap:
- Ohio State is probably not going to be able to win the Big Ten East.
- Barring an epic collapse, Wisconsin will win the Big Ten West and Minnesota is all but out of it. Nebraska is still praying for a Badger slip-up.
- Alabama won the SEC West already (yawn).
- The SEC East and ACC Coastal are both absolutely horrible divisions with two-team races in which it almost seems like none of the teams even want to win (Florida/Tennessee and Virginia Tech/North Carolina)
- If Clemson beats Wake Forest, they win the ACC Atlantic. If they lose, Louisville wins the division.
- Washington and Washington State are still likely to decide the PAC 12 North in the Apple Cup.
- The PAC 12 South is right up there with the Big Ten East for the most exciting race in the country; three top 15 teams (Colorado, Utah and USC) are still battling it out.
- The Big 12 is down to three teams (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and West Virginia); each team controls their own destiny, with little margin for error for any.
Big Ten (Championship in Indianapolis, Indiana)
Big Ten East:
Last Week: Welp. It wasn't great. But it actually doesn't matter too much for us (can't say the same for the heathens from South of the border; and, to be clear, I am absolutely not talking about Mexico). Penn State and Ohio State rolled middling opponents while Michigan lost a heartbreaker on the road to Iowa. We have a three-way tie at the top of the East.
Still in the Hunt:
· Michigan (9-1 overall, 6-1 Big Ten)
- Remaining Schedule: vs. Indiana, @Ohio State
- Path: We control our own destiny; win out and we’re going to Indy. Also, in the highly unlikely event of a three-way tie, Michigan would prevail. The reason for this is that Iowa is in the West, so if all three teams finished 7-2 we would have the best record against the East division (OSU and PSU both already lost to an East team and only have East teams left to play). The only way this could happen would be if MSU wins out and defeats OSU/PSU (Michigan could beat IU and lose to OSU and still win the East if this happens).
· Penn State (8-2 overall, 6-1 Big Ten)
- Remaining Schedule: @Rutgers, vs. Michigan State
- Path: The Nittany Lions need to beat the two worst teams in the Big Ten East and hope that Ohio State (or Indiana) beat Michigan. They have the best odds of winning the Big Ten East at this point (assuming OSU is a favorite to beat UM), but they do not control their own destiny.
· Ohio State (9-1 overall, 6-1 Big Ten)
- Remaining Schedule: @Michigan State, vs. Michigan
- Path: Must win out AND have Penn State lose one of their final two games. Ohio State is eliminated before The Game if they fall to MSU (assuming PSU takes care of business against Rutgers). The Buckeyes were hurt more by Michigan's loss to Iowa than the Wolverines themselves were.
Eliminated From Contention:
· Indiana (5-5 overall, 3-4 Big Ten)
· Maryland (5-5 overall, 2-5 Big Ten)
· Michigan State (3-7 overall, 1-6 Big Ten)
· Rutgers (2-8 overall, 0-7 Big Ten)
Big Ten West
Last Week: Nothing really changed here, except for Minnesota no longer controls their own destiny after falling at Nebraska. Badgers still in the driver's seat after blowing out Illinois, with the Gophers and Huskers nipping at their heels.
Still in the Hunt:
· Wisconsin (8-2 overall, 5-2 Big Ten)
- Remaining Schedule: @Purdue, vs. Minnesota
- Path: Win out and they are in Indianapolis. Badgers are still in the thick of the Playoff Race as well.
· Nebraska (8-2 overall, 5-2 Big Ten)
- Remaining Schedule: vs. Maryland, @Iowa
- Path: Win out and hope that Wisconsin loses another game.
· Minnesota (7-3 overall, 4-3 Big Ten)
- Remaining Schedule: vs. Northwestern, @Wisconsin
- Path: It's pretty much over. Gophers need to win out and hope Nebraska loses out as Wisconsin would take a three way tie even if the Gophers can reclaim the Axe. A Nebraska win over Maryland officially eliminates the Gophers.
Eliminated from Contention:
· Northwestern: (5-5 overall, 4-3 Big Ten)
· Iowa (6-4 overall, 4-3 Big Ten)
· Illinois (3-7 overall, 2-5 Big Ten)
· Purdue (3-7 overall, 1-6 Big Ten)
SEC (Coronation in Atlanta, Georgia)
Last Week: Alabama clinched the division this weekend with their win over Mississippi State plus Auburn's loss to Georgia. The Crimson Tide have now won the SEC West three years in a row and four of the past five years.
· Alabama (10-0, 7-0 SEC)
Eliminated from Contention:
· Auburn (7-3 overall, 5-2 SEC)
· LSU (6-3 overall, 4-2 SEC)
· Texas A&M (7-3 overall, 4-3 SEC)
· Arkansas (6-4 overall, 2-4 SEC)
· Ole Miss (5-5 overall, 2-4 SEC)
· Mississippi State (4-6 overall, 2-4 SEC)
Last Week: Tennessee defeated Kentucky to eliminate UK from winning the East; Florida's home win over South Carolina eliminated the possiblity of a four team, 4-4 tie. It's a two team race now between Tennessee and Florida in this putrid division.
Still in the Hunt:
· Florida (7-2 overall, 5-2 SEC)
- Remaining Conference Schedule: @LSU
- Path: The Gators still control their own destiny; beat LSU in Baton Rouge and they win the East. If they lose to LSU (likely), Florida needs Tennessee to drop one of its final two SEC games as the Vols beat them 38-28 in Knoxville all the way back in the SEC opener.
· Tennessee (7-3 overall, 3-3 SEC)
- Remaining Conference Schedule: vs. Missouri, @Vanderbilt
- Path: Tennessee needs to win out and hope Florida loses another game so they can use their tiebreaker to receive another Bama beatdown. On second thought, maybe the Vols should purposefully throw the Vandy game?
Eliminated From Contention:
· Georgia (6-4 overall, 4-4 SEC)
· Kentucky (5-5 overall, 4-4 SEC)
· South Carolina (5-5 overall, 3-5 SEC)
· Missouri (3-7 overall, 1-5 SEC)
· Vanderbilt (4-6 overall, 1-5 SEC)
PAC-12 (Championship in Santa Clara, California)
Last Week: Washington lost a game that wasn't really that close at home to #20 Southern Cal, while Washington State cruised to a 56-21 victory at home against middling California. The Apple Cup hype continues; as long as Washington doesn't lose at home to Arizona State this week, the rivalry game alone will decide the PAC 12 North.
Still in the Hunt:
· Washington State (8-2 overall, 7-0 PAC-12)
- Remaining Schedule: @Colorado, vs. Washington.
- Path: Control their own destiny; win out and it's a title game appearance with the Rose Bowl on the line for the Cougars. Additionally, Washington State would clinch the North with a win at Colorado this weekend AND a Washington loss to Arizona State.
· Washington (9-1 overall, 6-1 PAC-12)
- Remaining Schedule: vs. Arizona State, @Washington State
- Path: Beat Washington State. And Arizona State (unless WSU loses to Colorado, which might be likely in Boulder).
Eliminated From Contention:
· Stanford (7-3 overall, 5-3 PAC-12)
· California (4-6 overall, 2-5 PAC-12)
· Oregon (3-7 overall, 1-6 PAC-12)
· Oregon State (2-8 overall, 1-6 PAC-12)
PAC 12 South
Last Week: Huge week for this division with all three contenders winning on the road. Utah and Colorado steamrolled the Arizona teams, both by at least three scores, and Southern California pulled a huge upset in Seattle over #4 Washington to stay alive. This is really anyone's game and there are still two ranked matchups coming in the next two weeks.
Still in the Hunt:
· Colorado (8-2 overall, 6-1 PAC-12)
- Remaining Schedule: vs. Washington State, vs. Utah
- Path: Control their own destiny; win out and they are in Santa Clara. However, the Buffs do not have a margin for error. Assuming USC handles flailing UCLA this weekend, Colorado would be elminated from contention with a loss to Washington State, before they even get to Utah.
· Southern California (7-3 overall, 6-2 PAC 12)
- Remaining Conference Schedule: @UCLA.
- Path: Wow. What a turnaround. Remember when USC was 2-3? Neither do I. USC needs to beat rival UCLA this weekend, but mostly their focus will be on rooting for other teams. The Trojans need both Utah and Colorado to lose another game (Utah already beat USC and the Utes would win a three-way tiebreaker). Utah and Colorado play each other on the last weekend, so one of the two is guaranteed. However, that means that USC could be eliminated after next week if Utah beats Oregon (at home) and Colorado beats Washington State (also at home). Given the Ducks' struggles, USC really needs Washington State to down the Buffaloes.
· Utah (8-2 overall, 5-2 PAC-12)
- Remaining Schedule: vs. Oregon, @Colorado.
- Path: The Utes control their destiny just like the Buffaloes due to their win over USC and ability to win a three-way tiebreaker (both losses thus far have been to teams from the North and they had no non-conference losses). No margin for error here; win out and they're in.
Eliminated From Contention:
· Arizona State (5-5 overall, 2-5 PAC-12)
· UCLA (4-6 overall, 2-5 PAC-12)
· Arizona (2-8 overall, 0-7 PAC-12)
ACC (Championship in Orlando, Florida)
Last Week: Not over till the fat lady sings!!! Clemson lost at home to Pittsburgh, which keeps Louisville's dreams alive. However, the Cardinals have already finished ACC play so all they can do is root for Wake Forest to upset the Tigers. Wake Forest's outside chance was extinguished with their loss to Louisville (in which they put up a great fight and were leading at halftime).
Still in the Hunt:
· Clemson (9-1 overall, 6-1 ACC)
- Remaining Conference Schedule: @Wake Forest.
- Path: Beat Wake Forest.
· Louisville (9-1 overall, 7-1 ACC)
- Remaining Conference Schedule: None.
- Path: Wake Forest beats Clemson.
Eliminated from Contention:
· Florida State (7-3 overall, 4-3 ACC)
· Wake Forest (6-4 overall, 3-3 ACC)
· North Carolina State (5-5 overall, 2-4 ACC)
· Syracuse (4-6 overall, 2-4 ACC)
· Boston College (4-6 overall, 1-6 ACC)
Last Week: What a failure of a division. They are giving the SEC East a run for their money. Both of the division frontrunners lost this week (Virginia Tech was blown out at home by Georgia Tech and North Carolina lost a close rivalry game at non-bowl team Duke). However, they remain the only two alive in this race.
Still in the Hunt:
· Virginia Tech (7-3 overall, 5-2 ACC)
- Remaining Conference Schedule: vs. Virginia
- Path: Beat Virginia. Alternatively, lose to Virginia but have North Carolina lose to NC State (VT wins a 4-way tie between Miami, Pitt, and UNC on head-to-head over all three).
· North Carolina (7-3 overall, 5-2 ACC)
- Remaining Conference Schedule: vs. North Carolina State
- Path: Beat North Carolina State and hope Virginia beats Virginia Tech.
Eliminated From Contention:
· Miami (6-4 overall, 3-3 ACC)
· Pittsburgh (6-4 overall, 3-3 ACC)
· Georgia Tech (6-4 overall, 3-4 ACC)
· Virginia (2-8 overall, 1-5 ACC)
· Duke (4-6 overall, 1-5 ACC)
Big 12 (No Championship Game)
The Big 12 race is down to three teams: the pair of Oklahoma schools plus Eastern newcomer, West Virginia. Oklahoma still has to play both of the other two contenders; Oklahoma State beat West Virginia in Stillwater a few weeks ago.
This race is interesting in that every team controls their own destiny, but none of them have a real margin for error.
Still in the Hunt:
· Oklahoma (8-2 overall, 7-0 Big 12)
- Remaining Conference Schedule: @West Virginia, vs. Oklahoma State
- Path: Control their own destiny; win out and they will win the conference. There isn't much margin for error; a loss to Oklahoma State is definitely worse than a loss to WVU, as the Mountaineers have an extra game to play against a semi-decent team (Baylor).
· Oklahoma State (8-2 overall, 6-1 Big 12)
- Remaining Conference Schedule: @Texas Christian, @Oklahoma
- Path: Win out. If they lose to TCU, they need to beat OU, have WVU beat OU and have WVU lose to Baylor (a lot of contingencies, not likely to happen).
· West Virginia (8-1 overall, 5-1 Big 12)
- Remaining Conference Schedule: vs. Oklahoma, @Iowa State, vs. Baylor.
- Path: Control their own destiny. Even less margin for error (basically does not exist) than for the other two contenders.
Eliminated from Contention:
· Baylor (6-3 overall, 3-3 Big 12)
· Kansas State (5-4 overall, 3-3 Big 12)
· Texas Christian (5-4 overall, 3-3 Big 12)
· Texas (5-5 overall, 3-4 Big 12)
· Texas Tech (4-6 overall, 2-5 Big 12)
· Iowa State (2-8 overall, 1-6 Big 12)
· Kansas (1-9 overall, 0-7 Big 12)
NOTE: I will add charts later perhaps - having trouble with my Photobucket account, probably because it is far too unwieldly at this point.
Well, the one thing that we were hoping not to dissect and digest, at least not quite at this moment, did in fact happen and we are waking up and eating breakfast trying to comprehend a Michigan loss.
So, how did we feel about that game?
Over the forty-six games that I've been running this particular analysis, we actually had never broken thr 600-fuck plateau. We came very, very close during the Indiana game last year when we hit 599, but we never got over this particular hump. Well, that was until last night - we gave 712 fucks, shattering the record and pushing the limits of what can fit into game threads. We also missed tying the the record for "shit" - 212 in last year's Minnesota game - by two shits, which in itself is remarkable since it is a far less popular word in comparison. However, a record number of fucks and a near-record number of shits sums up last night rather nicely, I would think. In addition, we hit a "damn" record for the season with 135 damns, which I checked three times because honestly it seemed way low, but then I remember spoken damns weren't included here. I think I used that many in fourth quarter.
Many of the advanced stats told a similar story of stunned despair:
FART (Fucks Adjusted For Real Time) Rate - 3.956, so nearly 4 fucks per minute of airtime, which is a season high and over 1 fuck more per minute of air than MSU
SHART (Shits Adjusted For Real Time) Rate - 1.167, twice the rate of the MSU game and I can assure everyone I was adding to them in the living room
SQUIRT (FART / SHART) Number - 3.390, which is actually a little less than half of Wisconsin's 6.492, but we underutilized shit heavily in that game
FAP (Fucks Per Play) Rate - 5.519, which is the highest for the season so far, far above 3.701 for MSU, and low for my own inner monologue during this game. Not sure how others feel.
The total thread size was 2,777 posts as of about midnight last night, which the second largest total - it was spaced out across two threads, and it was also an away game, both of which tend to inflate the total. There were, however, 1,543 tracked instances, which makes for 19.37% of all the tracked instances in all threads. That's rather remarkable for being 10 games into a season. Overall efficiency came to 1.80, which is a season high and historically consistent with the numbers attained in frustrating losses over the last three years of data.
Let me revisit this for a moment because I want people to see it. To underscore how prolific we were, let's compare a few words to their average level of usage:
"Fuck" - season average of 247 per game, used 712 times last night
"Shit" - season average of 82 per game, used 210 times last night
"Damn" - season average of 55 per game, used 135 times last night
So, a downer all around, but onward and upward. We have two opportunities yet this year to beat those totals, but let's hope we don't.
This is going to be quick. You all watched the game. Brian will do a better job analyzing it during the UFR. I’m annoyed and don’t want to dwell on a crappy game.
Michigan isn’t Alabama. It isn’t even really OSU. It’s not a program that can just roll out dominant teams every year and compete for a title. It has windows of opportunities, seasons where they can play at an elite level and play for championships. 1997 they obviously made it to the end. 2006 got tantalizingly close. And 2016 felt like another (in what seems to be a once-a-decade window) of being another one of those great seasons. The defense is loaded with veterans and future NFL stars, the offense is being guided by one of the best coaches in the country, and the schedule is reasonably favorable. And for 9 weeks, UM largely looked the part of a champion, demolishing teams with ruthless efficiency. #3 in the CFB playoffs rankings, #1 in S&P+, top-10 on both offense and defense. About as close to a juggernaut at we’ve seen in Ann Arbor for decades.
This is a year when UM can take their crack at titles, both conference and national, before graduation and the machinations of football likely force UM to regroup a bit. Iowa should have been just another step on the path, a night road game yes, but also against a team that has looked lifeless recently. After playing bitter rival MSU and prodigal son’s Maryland, this game felt like a reprieve by comparison; a Greg Davis offense and a shaky QB against one of the best defenses in the country. UM might not blow the Hawkeyes off the field, but this was going to be one of those comfortable wins that get gentle nods from knowledgeable fans when discussion turns to UM playing “like a champion”. And then…
I wish I could write something eloquent and insightful, some 10,000 word opus that makes sense of losing to Iowa again, letting a team that had no business staying within 20 points of UM grind them up on the ground and kick a game-winning FG as time expired. But I just don’t got it, guys. This was a game UM should have won because they are the better team, and yet here we sit, a big black mark on a previously-spotless resume. And maybe they run the table and still get a shot to the playoffs, but this misstep makes that mountain even higher to climb, and now we are stuck rooting for more chaos and hoping the nagging injuries and the weaknesses that have arisen these past couple of weeks can be mitigated in real time.
For the third week in a row now, Michigan had trouble tackling ballcarriers, allowing 54 yards after contact to Akrum Wadley as part of his 167 yard performance. Both Darboh and Chesson struggled to haul in much of anything (a combined 3 catches for 35 yards), and Chesson compounded his issues by allowing Rugamba to rip the ball from his hands for Speight’s INT late in the game that stopped a promising drive. UM didn’t crack 100 yards rushing a week after Iowa gave up 359 to PSU, and repeatedly ran plays that led to TFLs (Iowa had 8 on the day) or, in one incredibly poorly-blocked sequence, a safety. The offensive line looked legitimately overmatched by an under-performing Iowa front 7. And Wilton Speight, after weeks of looking like a star, fell back to earth quite a bit, completing less than half of passes (11/26) for 103 yards and the aforementioned pick, and might have a shoulder injury to boot.
If there is a silver lining, I guess it is that it took sooooo many things to go wrong for UM to lose. Khalid Hill missed an obvious block on the safety that gave Iowa some life early on when UM was up 10-0, then fumbled the second-half kickoff that Iowa was able to turn into a FG. Michigan again suffered at the hands of the Arbitrary Targetting Gods, losing Devin Bush to a marginal late hit when the Iowa punter flipped over on a fake. Speight repeatedly missed deep despite both Chesson and Darboh streaking open; connect on any of those deep balls and this game absolutely turns for the good guys. Kirk Ferentz, a young earth zealot because he was there, man, when the dinosaurs roamed the earth, went for it on 4th down 2 out of 3 times, called multiple fakes, and generally coached that one game a year when the little old gerbils in his head take a break and the mongoose hoped up on Red Bull and whippets starts calling the shots.
The referees were atrocious in this game, to the point that John O’Neill should be booed every moment of every day he’s in Michigan Stadium from now until the heat death of the universe. Just a clownshow, the same incompetent goober who was the official for MSU 2015. The borderline facemask penalty to set up Iowa’s game-winning final drive, terrible spots including on Beathard’s final run, apparently not understanding grounding until it smacked him in the face, all of the kicker-related penalties, just everything. And that isn’t to take all of his calls were wrong, only that they seemed so damn arbitrary and inconsistent. At least he called roughing the center right this time.
It was a crazy weekend, so maybe it’s fitting UM joined the lot. Washington and Clemson lost just as badly, exposing their own weaknesses in the process, and the end of the season remains the gateway to accolades it’s always been: beat IU and OSU, and UM will be in the B1G championship game and have a chance at a playoff spot. And maybe I’m in the minority, but OSU still feels tractable simply because it’s a team with decided issues (QB accuracy, limited rushing attack outside of Barrett) and performances that have exposed them. But after a tumultuous week off the gridiron, I wasn’t expecting to be writing about another underdog stunner.
Worst: Offensive Offense
This was just a terribly called game offensively. Maybe the UFR will prove me wrong, but this looked like a Hoke offense at times out there. UM finished with a bit over 200 total yards of offense, and most of that came in the first half. The offensive line couldn’t get any push all day against the 86th-ranked rushing attack in the country. Repeatedly Michigan tried to get “cute” running the ball, throwing little pitches to Smith and Evans on short yardage to the short side of the field, only to have it snuffed out almost immediately by eleventy-billion Hawkeyes. Ty Isaac ran the ball exactly once for UM’s lone TD, then was relegated to the bench. Smith and Evans were basically running into Mason Cole half the time, as there was no push up front. Kalis really seemed to struggle at the point of the attack, even though the safety was probably on Hill not picking up Johnson at the snap. Both tackles had trouble keeping the pocket clean as the game wore on, and Iowa wound up blistering Speight those last couple of drives. And yes, field position played some role in this whole day, as UM’s averaging starting position was the 27 yard line, which is a far cry from UM’s nation-leading 36-yard spot coming into the game.
As for throwing the ball, Speight looked really good to start the game but could never connect on a deep throw to shake up the defense even though Darboh was flying down the field most plays. I know it was a tough ball to a diving Chesson, but his little hesitation-feint-throw-pullback-throw on the run on 3rd down was fantastic to watch. He had a some balls to Butt and Chesson early on that were great, and he looked in control of the offense. But then he started to get hit, and his receivers dropped a couple of balls, and the offense kept getting stuck in long third downs (for the day they were 5-for-15), and the playcalls became really focused on the deep throw. That’s not his game, that’s not this offense’s game, and it honestly felt like UM’s attempts to take the top off the defense gave Iowa easy outs. After halftime Speight was just 3/9 for 24 yards and a pick, and never looked comfortable. Even his completions were wonky, such as the ball to Butt that wobbled past a tight Iowa defender and succeeded because Butt knows a thing or two about holding onto the ball. And now it sounds like he might have a shoulder or wrist injury, which is fantastic news with team sorta-CHAOS and OSU the next 2 weeks.
What bothered me most was how predictable the offense looked. McDoom came in and they either ran the sweep or faked it; I get that teams will respond to his appearance and you can play off that, but throw him the damn ball once or twice just to give people a sense. Same with Peppers, who is a screaming “WE’RE RUNNING THE BALL NOW!” at this point, who mostly gets yards because he’s an incredible athlete and UM can sorta block teams anyway. But either put that back into the garage and tinker with the Pepcat package or let the guy do something, anything else. Because right now, it’s starting to get like that one song at the top of your Spotify playlist you hear all the time before you hit shuffle. You ain’t fooling anyone, Cults.
And yet, despite probably the worst offensive performance we’ve seen under Harbaugh at UM, Michigan probably should have still emerged with the victory. Sometimes that does just happen, and I’m okay with it to an extent. Iowa was able to weather some early trouble, got a couple of breaks, and pulled out a tight victory. Still, the offensive line still has question marks, and asking Speight to throw deep when it clearly wasn’t working (versus some shorter balls to get the chains moving and not tax leaky protection) are coaching issues that must be addressed. UM simply cannot play like this offensively again and expect to win, and they’ve only got a week to figure it out.
Meh: The Defense
I see people complaining about the defense, mostly because Wadley had a great day and they lost. And their is some credence to the ongoing issues tackling in space by the linebackers and defensive backfield. McCray repeatedly struggled to stay with Wadley in the open field, and it’s clear now that more physical backs can give UM trouble. The linebackers are athletic but still seem prone to taking bad angles or missing on shifty backs, and the idea of them trying to keep up with Weber and especially Samuel aren’t appealing. I’d say just throw Peppers into that role, but not only is it yet another burden on him, it would probably disrupt the defensive flow for the team.
I know people want to get on Stribling for his tackling, but I don’t expect miracles from my corners in run defense. And he had some nice pass defenses and what I erroneously assumed would be the game-clinching pick. And Beathard was terrible this whole game; he cracked 3.4 ypa, and that was with a Wadley pitch-and-catch.
Both Hill and Thomas, though, missed easy tackles and let Wadley pick up big yards after contact. Iowa probably should have had a TD (or at least a long completion) in that first half when seemingly everybody forgot Nate Wieting and were bailed out by an underthrown ball and Hill getting there a bit late to clean up. But in general, the defense played well enough to win. They held a team that averaged about 5.5 yard per play to 3.4, and that was with some zaniness to boot. Yes UM isn’t a murderdeathmachine against the run, but people saying it was “exposed” might be overstating it a bit. Sometimes the way you stop a running game is by taking those plays out of the playbook via scoring, and had UM found a way to push this to a 2-score lead in that second half, I think some of the Wadley damage doesn’t materialize.
Indiana will be a challenge; I have no idea how UM will fair against the all those goofy Redding, Natee, and Diamont packages, but my guess is UM will be fine. UM played well enough to win this game defensively, and I’m not ready to call a team that gave up 12 points on 68 plays “exposed.”
Worstest: The F**************cking Refs!
Watching this game every time a yellow flag came out felt like this.
It was just a cavalcade of insanity and insult. Iowa played well, but they got a health dose of help from O’Neill and his pack of blind squirrels. It’s bad spots, it’s bad targetting calls, a fringe facemask penalty, roughing the kicker penalties that basically forced UM to stop bringing any pressure lest they get blamed for Iowa’s kicker falling on his ass again, just everything. And I don’t think they cost UM the game; Michigan barely putting up 200 yards of offense was the bigger culprit. But at the same time, I shouldn’t be cringing as soon as I hear who is calling these games, and yet the minute I realized O’Neill’s crew was on the docket, I harkened back to last year’s MSU game and just knew something would go wrong.
College football is all about spending millions of dollars of coaches, training techniques, new technology, everything, and yet they have these part-time refs with histories of ineptitude messing around with important games. I don’t care about paying these guys, but there also needs to be a public reprimand if they screw up. Coaches and players get called out, let these guys answer questions after the game. They are grown-ass men and women, and their decisions have an outsized impact on games.
Best: Kenny MF Allen
Kenny Allen drained a 51-yard FG to give UM the late lead. Outside of basically 2 games this year over a month ago, Allen has been good as both a punter and kicker. For all the negative parts you can take from this game, one positive should be that Allen has ice in his veins and a leg to back it up.
Worst: The Heisman Talk
Listen, I think Peppers is great. He’s an amazing athlete and a special talent. He’ll be a mixture on Sunday for a decade. But at this point, I’m getting tired of every announcer trying to make a case for him. Peppers is special because of his flexibility on defense, and tangible, quantifiable proof of that impact is hard to find (save for TFLs, which aren’t even that good of a barometer). I know he’s great, fans know he’s great, but he isn’t going to win the Heisman, and as a viewer of college football I don’t need breathless commentary every time he runs for 4 yards on a designed run. It’s lazy and somewhat insufferable, and cheapens what else he does on the field.
Worst: RPS All the Minuses
I’ll let Brian figure this all out, but I thought the offensive playcalling was really bad in that second half. UM has a great offense, but when you are playing in a 1950’s game, call it like a 1950’s game. Maybe break out a jet sweep if you are feeling frisky, but otherwise just run the ball between the tackles and throw short passes to the flats and Butt and force Iowa to stop you. They repeatedly called for Speight to throw the ball deep, and it just wasn’t there. That partially falls on the players for not “making plays” (oh god, I feel dumber having just said that), but it also falls on the coaches for putting them in tough spots. I don’t know how to describe this offensive gameplan other than it felt like a Borges offense, too clever by half. A couple of times, Speight would pitch the ball on the short side of the field and the play was inevitably chewed up, and I just didn’t know what the plan was. Iowa’s defensive line isn’t that good, and my guess is a steady stream of runs right at them probably hit paydirt sooner rather than later. And yet, Michigan put themselves in long 3rd downs way too often (they averaged about 3rd-and-6), and it hurt their offensive flow and options.
As for the defense, I don’t think Greg Davis outcoached anyone, but Wadley in space was clearly all of Iowa’s offense and yet Brown and co. were slow to react. They did shut down the Iowa passing attack, as anemic as it was during the year, and again, that final drive wasn’t why UM lost.
I get that UM will get a team’s best effort; that happens when you are a major player. But on the road, you can’t mess around with competent teams, and for all of Iowa’s struggles they are still probably going to win 8-9 games this year. They aren’t a pushover, especially at home, and yet UM let this game play into their hands way too much.
IU comes to town next. They really aren’t that good, and while they are still CHAOS team, the shoe doesn’t quite fit like it did in the past. Their offense is janky and sometimes explosive, and the defense is fine for IU standards but has still given up a bunch of points recently (36 to MD, 27 to Rutgers, 45 to PSU). I assume UM will handle them and the focus will be on The Game for a shot at the playoffs. And yeah, a small part of me is hoping MSU builds on their demolition of Rutgers to give OSU a fight, but whatever margin UM had is gone after this game, and so it’s time to just win and advance.
Week 10 Conference Wins Update
“Break their hearts my pride and hope, break their hearts and have no mercy.”
- Miss Havisham (Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations)
With only three games remaining at the ten week mark, the distributions are look much less … distributed. By next week, the computations will be in the realm of solution using your favorite handheld device, and the resulting charts will begin to look monolithic. That said, I’m thinking this may be the last installment of this diary.
Now at ten weeks into the season, Michigan continues its ascent toward the pinnacle of college football, the
Rose Bowl College Football Playoff. The air at these heights - heights this team has not seen since the Lloyd Carr era - becomes rarified, and each swing of the pick axe demands even more focus and concentration. At the same time, the Buckeyes have regained their footing in vanquishing the Huskers, and appear to be on track for a collision not seen since Football Armageddon.
So, the challenge now is that the Wolverines must avoid an untimely demise in what might be the true trap game of this season. But with a renewed commitment evidenced in its ruthless disposal of the Terrapins, Team 137 can turn toward the exorcism of another albeit lesser of its demons, Kinnick Stadium. M has not won there since Carr’s 2005 team escaped with a win in overtime. Yea verily, the Hawkeyes are pulling out all the stops to make it a contest. The locker room has received a fresh coat of pink paint. In addition to the game being scheduled at night, it will be a blackout. What’s more, having had all day to become appropriately lubricated, the crowd promises be a particularly unsavory corn-fed lot.
The impetus of this diary is the desire to characterize the competitive landscape of the Big Ten Conference through the synthesis of total win probability distributions for each of the teams. The distributions are derived from the relative expected points ratings from Bill Connelly (S&P+), ESPN (FPI), and occasionally Ed Feng (The Power Rank). The key is that the ratings are based on expected points, which are in turn translated into win probabilities. Each of these three ratings are generated from their respective advanced statistical analyses and metrics. In doing so, they achieve varied results ... some more pleasing than others depending on your point-of-view.
Anyway, here you will find further ruminations on said statistics into still more statistics as a means for enabling further discussion, jumping to conclusions, flying off of the handle or goading your rival. Also included is a fresh look at the all-important head-to-head win-differential probability distribution for the matchup between a select pair of contenders in the B1G East.
Schedules, Margins, Probabilities & Distributions
B1G East Schedules & Margins Rundown
The table of schedules below shows the overall schedules for all seven teams in the B1G East based on the Bill Connelly’s S&P+ weekly ratings. The last table simply shows a rank-ordering of the B1GE teams based on their expected in-conference win totals, it’s not a projection of divisional standings based on projected wins, losses, and tie-breakers.
Michigan, by virtue of a complete dismantling of Maryland, continues as the #1 ranked team in all the land as per S&P+. However, the lead enjoyed by U-M has contracted to three spots over of OSU. Penn State, meanwhile, continues its climb up the S&P+ ranks now stands at #9 - one ahead of Wisconsin - to grab the 3rd highest rank in the B1G.
Looking at the S&P+ probabilities, the Wolverines lead the B1GE with about 8.6 expected B1G wins, ahead of the 2nd place Nittany Lions by just under 1 expected win. The Buckeyes now trail the Nits by about 0.4 wins. Michigan is the only team in the B1G at this point expected to exceed 8 wins; OSU and PSU the only teams expected to exceed 7 conference wins. U-M and PSU are both still favored in all of their remaining games. As such, OSU remains a 5½ point underdog in The Game.
Indiana, after dispatching Rutgers, remains in the fourth spot. The Hoosiers, with nearly 4.2 expected wins and being favored in the last of their remaining games against Purdue, are on track for bowl eligibility. Meanwhile, Maryland is also on the bowl-eligibility bubble looking for its sixth win, but with slightly more than 3 expected wins and LOLRutgerz still on the schedule, the Terps have an ace in the hole.
As is typical, the FPI results differ slightly. Here Michigan retains the #2 ranking, while OSU moved back up one spot to #4. In turn, M tops all teams in the B1GE with nearly 8.4 expected wins, expanding it lead over OSU slightly to 1.4 wins. As was the case last week, FPI results show U-M to be favored in all of its remaining games; the only game in which OSU is not favored is The Game. The margin, however, now stands at a razor-thin 0.6 points. Meanwhile Penn State continues to roll, and stands about 0.2 wins ahead of OSU to claim the #2 spot at just over 7.5 wins. The bowl-eligible Nits are favored in all of their remaining games, and is on track for a 10-2 season.
After squeaking by Rutgers, Indiana holds the #4 B1GE spot firmly at 4 wins, and remains in the edge of bowl-eligibility. Likewise, Maryland is on the bowl-eligibility bubble, now at 3.1 expected wins and being a favorite in only one more game. MSU, after dropping another game in which they were favored to Illinois, is now favored in only one more game this season: LOLRutgerz. Sparty will take on the Scarlet Knights in what should be a tremendous battle for the Situation Trophy.
Here’s a link to a chart showing the results from the Power Rank-ings. The numbers here look slightly less optimistic.
B1G East Expected Conference Wins Distributions
The bar plots below show the expected total overall wins distributions for teams in the B1G East, in alphabetical order. Noted above each bar is the probability for that number of wins (you may need to click & embiggen to read it). The bar with the highest value is the most likely outcome (the mode). Also flagged on each plot is the expected overall win total (the mean). The last line plot is just an overlay of the same data from the other seven bar plots.
Once again Michigan stands apart from all other with the highest mode of all possible modes - an undefeated 9 wins! PSU remains in sole occupation of next highest mode at 8 wins. Following the Nits are the Buckeyes with a mode of 7 wins, with a tilt toward 8 wins. Of course this suggests that the most likely outcome is that OSU will lose one more game. The complementary nature of OSU losing one more and Michigan winning out still holds, which gives statistically-minded folks a warm-fuzzy when pondering the covariance of the M and OSU distributions.
Still, a bit of a cluster remains at the 8-win mode. A quick computation shows that the much ballyhooed three-way tie among Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State now has a probability of about 29%, largely because it’s almost twice as likely that OSU or PSU lose at least more game. That said, PSU could only advance if M drops two more games than PSU from here on out, whereas the B1GE divisional championship at this point is Michigan’s to lose. The likelihood of UM having an undefeated season at stands at 60.5% or about 3:2 odds in favor.
Indiana still sits at 4 wins, leaning toward 5 wins, while Maryland is balanced at 3 wins. MSU is still looking like a lock for a 1-win B1G season, but still has a strong lean toward winless-ness. LOLRutgerz is still looking like a solid winless record in the B1G.
With only three games remaining in the season, some distributions begin to indicate more strongly what the final win totals will be. Those that do not are the teams that have competitive games left on the slate. In the B1GE, those teams are M and OSU. These FPI results show an even tighter cluster at the top than S&P+, so the likelihood of the pseudo-threeway tie is a bit greater. Nonetheless each team occupies a unique mode, except M and PSU. Both show the same 8-win mode, but M leans strongly toward the undefeated mode with PSU leaning toward 7 wins. UM registers a 45.2% chance to win out.
From the 3 contenders at the high end, a 3 win gap separates the remaining teams in the B1GE. In order, they are Indiana, Maryland, MSU and LOLRutgerz at 4, 3, 1 and 0-win modes, respectively.
Here’s a link to a chart showing the results from the Power Rank-ings.
B1G West Schedules & Margins Rundown
The next table of schedules shows the overall schedules for the B1G West based on the Bill Connelly’s S&P+ weekly ratings. Again, the last table simply shows a rank-ordering of the B1GW teams based on their expected win totals - it’s not a projection of divisional conference standings per se.
The B1GW S&P+ results have the principal contenders, Wisconsin and Nebraska, at 6.7 and 6.0 expected wins. For Wisconsin, the defeat of Nebraska has put them in control of their destiny by virtue of the tie-breaker rule. Wisconsin’s path to Indy is relatively assured as the Badgers are favored by no less than 14 points from here on out. Nebraska, meanwhile, have still to face Iowa at Kinnick, a game in which the Huskers are favored by less than half a point.
Minnesota, Northwestern and Iowa remain congealed in the second tier of bowl-eligibles and likelies. At 7-2, Minnesota is already bowl-eligible with two of its toughest games remaining. The Gophers are favored in only one remaining game. Northwestern, now expecting nearly 5.2 B1G wins, is favored in 2 more games which it needs to close on in order to become bowl eligible. Poor-damn-Iowa lags at 4.2 expected wins and is favored in only the Illinois game, and has the toss-up with the Huskers.
FPI results now have Wisconsin leading the B1GW now with over 6.6 expected wins, while Nebraska trails at just under 5.9 wins. Like S&P+, FPI has the Badgers favored in all its remaining games by two-score margins, and the Huskers an underdog in the season-ender in Iowa City. Minnesota and Northwestern follow in the 5.0-5.1 win range. FPI has Northwestern favored in two more games, which it needs to capture to become bowl eligible. Wrapping up the likely bowl invitees is Iowa at about 4.7 expected wins, who FPI has favored to win its last two to close out 7-5 and make a bowl game.
Here’s a link to a chart showing the results from the Power Rank-ings.
B1G West Expected Conference Wins Distributions
The bar plots below show the expected overall win distributions for the B1G West teams, in alphabetical order.
With 3 games remaining, the story in the B1GW has pretty well shaken out. Five teams still have modes in the 4 to 7 win range, but Wisconsin is the only team with a mode of 7 wins, and it’s a very strong mode indeed. Nebraska now sits at the 6 win mode, leaning toward 7 wins, but would need to win out and have the Badgers lose again to advance. The likelihood of that combination is less than 7%. Northwestern and Minnesota remain balanced and nearly indistinguishable at the 5 win mode, while Iowa remains at the 4 win mode, skewed toward 5 wins.
The FPI now tells a similar story as S&P+, showing 5 teams in the 4 to 7 win range, with very similar distribution shapes and order.
Here’s a link to a chart showing the results from the Power Rank-ings.
Michigan vs. Ohio State Big Ten Wins Differential
The win-differential distribution simply shows the likelihood of one team (say, Michigan) finishing with a conference record that is some number of games better or worse than another team (say, Ohio State). Keeping in mind that in the event of a tie, the winner of the head-to-head match up determines the tiebreaker … the probability of the teams having identical conference records (i.e. a win differential of zero) heading into the final head-to-head meeting is then pro-rated in proportion to the win probability of the head-to-head game. The same principle also applies to the probabilities of either team having a one-game lead going into (our outside of) the head-to-head (i.e. win differentials of +1 and -1). This is because a team trailing by one game would still clinch the tie-breaker by winning the final head-to-head game. Thus, the total likelihood of Michigan finishing ahead of Ohio State is the sum of all the maize-and-blue shaded bars (i.e. U-M wins two or more games than OSU), plus a proportional split of the -1, 0 and +1-differential bars. It’s worth noting that this total likelihood does not indicate the likelihood of making it to the B1G Championship, as it says nothing about how other teams in the B1G East do, or even how Michigan or Ohio State do in the absolute sense. For example, if both teams were to finish tied in the B1G at 7-2, which means that UM and OSU would be losing 2 games each, at that point another team (Penn State) may have the lead.
Beginning as usual with the results of the S&P+ analysis, this week’s chart still shows that the most likely outcome (now at 87.1% likelihood) is that U-M is one game up heading into Columbus. No news here really - The Game will in all likelihood decide who will play for the B1G Championship. Looking at the head-to-head matchup, the win probability for Michigan has contracted to 63.9% after OSU’s obliteration of Nebraska, with the margin shrinking from 7.7 to 5.5 points. So UM collects a 55.7 point share of the 87.1 points for the likelihood of winning when coming in up one (and finishing ahead two games). OSU collects the remaining 31.5 points.
The second most likely scenario, now with only a 7.9% likelihood, is that UM comes into Columbus two games ahead of OSU. Of this possible outcome, UM collects the entire 7.9 points, of course, because UM would still be assured of finishing one game ahead of OSU regardless of the outcome.
The third most likely scenarios that UM comes with the same record as OSU. This scenario has a 4.8% likelihood, of which UM collects a 3.0 point share for its likelihood of winning and finishing one game ahead. OSU collects the remaining 1.7 points.
In total according to the S&P+ ratings, Michigan now has a 66.8% likelihood (down slightly from 76.4%) of finishing the season ahead of OSU, or 2:1 in favor.
Painting a slightly more rosy picture, here is the same chart based on the FPI ratings following the week 10 results. As with S&P+, the most likely outcome is that UM heads into Columbus up one game on the Buckeyes. In the head-to-head matchup, UM is rated high enough to overcome OSU’s home-field advantage, giving Michigan a 51.6% likelihood (only a 0.6 point margin) to win the game. However, because the FPI margins in OSU’s intervening games are a good bit less than those of S&P+, the likelihood of OSU dropping one is greater, as is the likelihood of M coming into Columbus up two games. That stands at a 25.5% chance. To sum it all up, UM has a 67.6% likelihood of beating out OSU at season’s end, or a shade better than 2:1 chance. Very much the same as S&P+, but with a slightly different distribution of outcomes.
Here’s a link to the chart showing the results from the Power Rank-ings.
So there you have it. As you can see, the distributions are looking much more deterministic than earlier in the season. That said, Michigan remains in a favorable position rolling into Columbus the last Saturday of the month, but will still need to play and win the game to advance, as is the case with the Buckeyes. In the meantime, Michigan will need to remain focused on the intervening games, the next of which is tomorrow night’s game at Kinnick Stadium. This game still looms large as the most significant risk between now and Columbus.
The prospects for Michigan football to play in the Big Ten Championship Game may have receded slightly from the plateau reached last week. This is largely due to the Buckeyes regaining their composure and competitive edge after exhibiting various foibles in the preceding weeks. No surprises there, to be honest. OSU will always be tough out when facing Michigan, and that’s why so many look forward to The Game with such great anticipation each year. In all, Team 137 has exhibited all the qualities one expects to see in a team that has both great expectations as well as a great capacity to realize those expectations.
Yours in football, and Go Blue!
This is going to be an abbreviated Breakdown (mostly bullet points, etc). I am going to try to catch the 2nd half of Hoops at Crisler and then we leave for Iowa City in the morning. So, I'll see what I can get you, tonight...
(James Coller) Betcha didn't see this coming, heh heh
- Not good. By my tally, M created 31 attempts. This seems about on par with the rest of their season.
- The first 5v5 goal (to make it 3-0) was an elite move by Lockwood to swim a defender and and unbelieveably difficult finish from Slaker, who had the slimmest of angles to get it inside the post. But he did.
- The other was an empty-netter with 4:30+ left in the 3rd. Ok, sure.
- Lockwood/Slaker duo looks fantatstic. They made most of the offensive chances and seem to be the future offense of this team.
- Alex Kile and Max Shuart did not dress. Along with 2 other veterans.
- I don't want to slam this defense too much. It was not great, but they did a decent job starting 3 freshmen and 2 sophomores.
- Other than a second period with multiple M penalties, the defense did a respectable job of keeping BU out of the slot/crease...especially given the talent depth for the Terriers.
- That being said, there were still a few bad DZTOs and struggles to get the puck clear of the defensive zone. Given the strength of the opponent, though, I've seen worse defensive performances from M this season.
- Nolan De Jong did not dress.
- As per usual (at least the games I see), Michigan scores of 2 of their first 3 power play shots.
- M finishes 2/5 on PP, which is still great. They are now 10/40 on the season.
- With all of the suspensions, they could not go 1-3-1, setting up almost exclusively with 2 high at the points.
- M commits a lot of penalties (6) but looks solid on the PK, killing them all and not ceding many great looks, down a man.
- Hayden Lavigne was fantastic. He absolutely stole the 2nd period.
- Lavigne made a ton of positional saves and looked good moving around the net when he was forced to scramble.
- He also recorded his 2nd shutout of the season...this time against a Top 10 scoring offense.
- Michigan will probably still rotate goalies, to a degree, but I expect Lavigne to get most of the minutes going forward.
ODD MAN RUSHES
- Perhaps, I fell asleep, but I do not remember a single OMR for BU. I asked around, but no one else near me could give me a single detail about one OMR they remembered. Huh. Obviously, even if there was one, it wasn't overly threatening, then. Yay!
- There was one horrendously bad DZTO where Luce centered a BU attacked from behind the net and he walked in on Lavigne. Hayden said NO.
- I am encouraged by this!
FINAL CORSI SCORE
I had: Boston University 55, Michigan 31
collegehockeynews.com had BU 53, M 32