First, let me start off by saying I realize that this post is very early in the season, we are not bowl eligible, and the postseason landscape is hardly determinable. I am just a) excited at the prospect of going to a bowl again this year, and b) a big fan of FBS postseason (yes, including the BCS.)
Obviously, to determine where we'd fall, a little projection and guesswork is required. The last two years have caused me to behave carefully pessimistic, but nonetheless, I see us looking at 9-3 at the end of the season. Here is how I see the Big Ten finishing up:
***Note: Thanks to that rule change, Illinois, Indiana, and Northwestern would be bowl eligible even with one of their wins coming against a FCS opponent***
Yes, I know 9 Big Ten teams being bowl eligible is a little far-fetched, but it's possible.
Now, bowl implications:
OSU: National Championship vs. Alabama (they look too good to get beat during the regular season)
Rose Bowl: With a new rule in place, it looks like if OSU makes it to the BCS Championship, Boise St. or TCU or some other team might take our (The Big Ten's) spot here.
MSU: Capital One Bowl vs. SEC (probably Florida)
Iowa: Outback Bowl vs. SEC (South Carolina is my pick right now, and they'd be in for a tough game)
Michigan: Gator Bowl vs. SEC (LSU or Arkansas to draw some intrigue?)
Wisconsin: Insight Bowl vs. Big 12 (Missouri or Texas?)
Penn State: Dallas Football Classic vs. Big 12 (OK State or Texas A&M)
Illinois: Texas Bowl vs. Big 12 (Colorado?)
Indiana: Little Ceasar's Pizza Bowl vs. MAC Champ (Toledo)
Northwestern: Sorry, left out in the cold.
I find it rather likely that Indiana is also not chosen, but I'm including them for now. From what I can find, the bowl schedule is still a little fuzzy. What does anyone think of these matchups? Who would like to see Michigan return to the bowl games with a win over LSU and Miles or Arkansas and Mallet? Again, I realize this is super early, but something I'd like to discuss.
I thought everyone would enjoy this article about Denard Robinson and see just how crazy his stats are so far this year. Enjoy.
When watching the game Saturday, and contemplating the remainder of the season, I had two thoughts:
- The combination of Denard, our receivers, and our O-Line would be able to score on all of the remaining Big 10 defenses.
- Few, if any, of the remaining Big 10 offenses would be as potent as Indiana and Chappell.
Now, obviously enough, the entire season hinges on these two factors. But I am wondering which defenses, if any, you see giving Denard and Michigan trouble, being potentially able to stop us. Secondly, which offenses, if any, do you expect to give our defense the greatest trouble?
Regarding the first, I could see Penn State, Ohio State, and Iowa defenses giving Michigan's offense trouble.
Regarding the second, I could see Ohio State, Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan State offenses giving our defense a lot of trouble.
If true, that means that of the remaining seven games, it breaks down into three groups:
- The following seem reasonable wins: Purdue, Illinois
- The following seem tossups: Wisconsin, Penn State, Michigan State
- The following seem likely losses: Ohio State, Iowa.
Most here have seen Wisconsin giving us more trouble than Iowa. That may be true: Brian has talked about last year's record for Iowa being an aberration.
Regardless, I'd like someone more knowledgable that I am to comment on the respective defenses and offenses likely to give Michigan the most trouble.
I think this is a must-read, folks.
All numbers included in this preview are using my PAN metric, Points Above Normal. PAN is essentially how many points above an average FBS team was a team/unit/player worth. For reference, an average FBS team is approximately equal to Illinois or a top team from the MAC.
All games against FCS teams are excluded, as well as any plays in the second half where one team leads by more than 2 touchdowns or any end-of-half, run-out-the-clock situations.
Post Game Notes
The numbers predicted a one-possession win for Michigan and that’s largely how they played out. I audibled against the numbers and said the score might be a bit lower because Michigan might try a UConn game plan, slowing it down and limiting possessions. If that was the gameplan, no one told Denard.
Running the ball was Michigan’s obvious advantage coming in. I projected its worth to be in the range of 9 to 15 points for the game. We ended at the high end, with +16 PAN for the game on the ground. Denard put up his usual +12, while Vincent Smith put up all of his +4 on the long TD run. In four qualifying games Denard now has 4 of the top 14 rushing performances of the season in PAN. Bryce Beall from Houston is the only other player in the country to have two top-30 performances.
The big separation came in the passing game. Every time Michigan dropped back to pass it was basically worth a point. Michigan was +17 PAN on 17 attempts and Denard was +19. In terms of overall quarterback performance, Robinson’s three top-15 performances (the BG game still cracked the top 50!) is compared with only one other player with multiple top-15 appearances.
Ben Chappell's +27 performance was the second-best overall QB performance of the year, and he now has three top-40 games. Robinson and Chappell are the #1 and #2 rated QBs in opponent-adjusted PAN so far this year. Chappell’s number may very well come down as he faces defenses tougher than those of Towson, Western Kentucky, Akron, and Michigan, but there is no doubt that he is an exceptional player.
Indiana’s ground game was labeled by me as a pillow fight going in, and you could say that it ended like that. However, it was a pillow fight that Michigan won. The Hoosiers ended the game –5 on the ground as contrasted with a +22 through the air. Every time Indiana ran the ball it was a time they didn’t throw the ball, and a win for Michigan. At least for Indiana’s sake, the running game kept Michigan from pinning their ears back and rushing the passer…with three.
On predictions outside of Michigan, I almost called the OSU-Illinois score outright, but correctly had Illinois covering. I correctly had Iowa winning but did not have them covering, and I almost called the Michigan St.-Wisconsin score. Minnesota couldn’t put a last minute rally together to make me correct but I did correctly have them covering. I did not see Alabama’s domination over Florida coming and the Stanford over Oregon pick was looking great at halftime but looked terrible by the end. Pretty nice week for my Big 10 picks but I missed big on both of the national games.
Even with all of the struggles on defense, the season total projection keeps on rising. My team ranking has now eliminated the pre-season component and is made up entirely of in-season performance, with 50% of the opponent adjustment coming from 2009 performance and 50% coming from 2010 performance. For some teams there is a wide variation on which form of opponent adjustment is used. Michigan looks much better (ranked #12) based on in-season adjustment, but is still #23 when adjusting opponents based on their prior year success. The hybrid of the two has Michigan a full game ahead of where they were projected going into Indiana.
10 wins is now projected to be the most likely scenario and the odds of running the table have risen to 1 in 18.
Michigan State - 20, 60%
Iowa - 15, 56%
@ Penn State - 48, 66%
Illinois - 46, 83%
@ Purdue - 80, 90%
Wisconsin - 60, 92%
@ Ohio State - 14, 37%
Between the loss to Michigan St and the move to eliminate the preseason portion of ratings, Wisconsin has taken a massive beating in the numbers this week. The move is almost certainly too far but we will find out more as the Big 10 season progresses. Illinois and Michigan St were the big movers up, while Penn St, Wisconsin and Ohio St all dropped back after worse-than-expected showings on Saturday.
Projected Big 10 Standings
After last week things looked like three tiers with a mess in the middle. After this week, things are starting to separate a bit.
- Ohio St
- Michigan St
- Penn St
Switch Wisconsin and Illinois and this seems pretty reasonable, even after so few matchups against quality competition overall. Penn St could be higher but this doesn’t look like a season where defense alone is going to get you very many Big 10 wins.
|8||Oklahoma St||Big XII||15.87|
|12||Texas A&M||Big XII||13.85|
|14||Ohio St||Big Ten||13.51|
|17||Kansas St||Big XII||12.61|
|20||Michigan St||Big Ten||11.99|
On a purely data-driven model like mine there are going to be some oddballs, especially since this is more of a power poll than a rankings. Teams are rewarded strictly for how they performed relative the competition, without regard to win or loss.
Of the biggest head scratchers, Stanford #3 and ahead of Oregon, the Big XII seems highly overvalued and Notre Dame checking in at #25 seems a bit crazy at first, but they went to the wire with both Michigan schools who are obviously both undefeated and their other loss was to the highly rated Stanford squad.