B1G Champ game
A B1G Problem:
The Big Ten has a problem this season. Nobody thinks that the winner of the B1G championship game is the best team in the league. Part of this is because the divisions are unbalanced (which will happen because things change). Another part of this is because there are only 9 games for each team in a 14-team conference. Lastly, non-conference games don’t matter. I know College football is not the NFL, but the NFL uses overall record to determine division champs, and division record as a tie-breaker. Penn State lost to Pitt. 8-4 Pitt. That should matter. Instead, the B1G is all, “Why does it even matter that Penn State is lost in a hole?”
The task of determining the “conference champion” must align with determining the “best team in the conference”. This is especially important in a limited-access playoff. The only reason that people are even giving a second B1G team to get in is because none of the other leagues have two clear top tier teams. The goal of every conference should be to have their conference championship game be a de-facto play-in game for the conference championship. The eye test here says that OSU and Michigan are the best teams in the league. Can we construct a system that generates that result?
A possible solution:
Many of these things can be solved by changing how we determine the conference champion, and re-structuring some things a bit.
- Play 10 conference games. Five at home, five on the road. No more uneven home/road splits.
- Structure non-conference play. You must play one team from a P5 conference, and one team from a G5 conference. Practically speaking, this means that each team will have 6 or 7 home games in a season (because P5 teams will want a home-and-home). Notre Dame should be considered as a P5 team since they are ACC adjacent. And it isn’t like you can tell me that they are worse than the dregs of the P5, even when they go through down stretches. Still, to hell with Notre Dame .
- Use overall record as baseline comparison. All 2-way ties are broken with the head to head result. Three (or more) way ties are broken according to the typical B1G tiebreaking procedure. (1. Record against each other. 2. Record within the Conference. 3. Record within the division. 4. Higher CFP ranking.)
- Play division games first, then re-align divisions into a top division (Top 4 teams from East and West) and a bottom division (Bottom 3 teams from East and West). Have teams in the Top Division play all of the other teams in the Top Division that they haven’t played yet.
- Conference championship games is a rematch between the #1 and #2 teams in the top division (at a neutral site).
So a season would look like this:
- Week 1: P5/G5 opponent
- Week 2: G5/P5 opponent
- Week 3: East/West division game 1
- Week 4: East/West division game 2
- Week 5: East/West division game 3
- Week 6: East/West division game 4
- Week 7: East/West division game 5
- Week 8: East/West division game 6
- Week 9: Bye week. Realign divisions
- Week 10: Top/Bottom division game 1 - Played at West Home field
- Week 11: Top/Bottom division game 2 - Played at East Home field
- Week 12: Top/Bottom division game 3 - Played at West Home field
- Week 13: Top/Bottom division game 4 - Played at East Home field (Bottom division repeats week 10 opponent at other team’s field)
- Week 14: Conference Championship (Rematch of #1 vs. #2 in top division at neutral site)
Week 3-8 games are set so that home/away is balanced. Week 10-13 games are set so that home/away is balanced AND teams still know when home/away games are happening (they just don’t know the opponent). Week 9 bye is set so that people can make travel plans for the final 4 weeks. The importance of realignment is that the top teams all skip the dregs of the other division, and still all play each other.
2016 in review
Out of conference
Teams that would have been 2-0:
Teams that would have been 1-1 (and the team that they lost to):
- Penn State (Pitt)
- Indiana (Wake Forest)
- Michigan State (BYU) 2
- Rutgers (Washington)
- Northwestern (Western Michigan)
Teams that would have been 0-2 (and the teams that they lost to):
- Illinois (North Carolina, Western Michigan)
- Purdue (Actual P5 team, Cincinatti) 3
2016 Division standings
These will include out of conference results
East Division Entrants to the Top Division are:
4. Indiana (Over Maryland due to the better division record)
West Division Entrants into the Top Division:
Top Division finale:
At this point, I no longer care about the bottom division. Someone out of the bunch will get bowl elgible. Michigan State could run the table against Purdue, Illinois, Northwestern, and Purdue and get to bowl elgibility too. In any case, by playing the bottom teams in the opposite division, teams that start slow have a shot at getting to a bowl game. On to the top division. Actual games that were played will only show a score. Games not played will be predicted using S&P+
Week 9 (at West)
- OSU @ Wisconsin (OSU 30-23 OT)
- Michigan @ Iowa (Iowa 14-13)
- PSU @ Nebraska (DNP) PSU is 12th, Nebraska is 34th.
- Indiana @ Minnesota (DNP) Indiana is 48th, Minnesota is 37th.
Week 10 (at East)
- Wisconsin @ Michigan (Michigan 14-7)
- Iowa @ PSU (PSU 41-14)
- Nebraska @ Indiana (Nebraska 27-22)
- Minnesota @ OSU (DNP) Minnesota is 37th, OSU is 3rd.
Week 11 (at West)
- OSU @ Nebraska (62-3, Actual game in C-bus)
- Michigan @ Minnesota (DNP) Michigan is 2nd, Minnesota is 37th.
- PSU @ Wisconsin (PSU 38-31, Actual game in Indianapolis)
- Indiana @ Iowa (DNP) Indiana is 48th, Iowa is 20th.
Week 12 (at East)
- Wisconsin @ Indiana (DNP) Wisconsin is 16th, Indiana is 48th.
- Iowa @ OSU (DNP) Iowa is 20th, OSU is 3rd.
- Nebraska @ Michigan (DNP) Nebraska is 34th, Michigan is 2nd.
- Minnesota @ PSU (PSU 29-26)
Michigan wins the tie-breaker based on the head to head result (according to the 2-way tie-breaker procedure the B1G uses). Michigan plays OSU in the B1G championship game. Predict that game at your peril.
Though I was disappointed with the decision to move Thanksgiving to the Thursday BEFORE the Michigan-Ohio game, it is now the way things are and I have made peace with the new normal. That being said, I wanted to bring up the three scenarios under which The Game could be played now that there is an actual B1G championship game, instead of The Game acting as proxy.
Dave Brandon had said, when it was announced that Michigan and Ohio would be in separate B1G divisions, something to the effect of “The only thing better than playing the Ohio game would be playing it twice.” For Brandon, this stems from the idea of increased brand proliferation. Though for fans this is supposed to stem from the idea of being able to beat Ohio twice in the same season. While this would seem to be incredibly gratifying, it ultimately breaks down functionally. If the same team wins both games then what was the point of the rematch? If the series is split, then what was proven on the field? See 2011-2012 Alabama/LSU and SEC ad absurdum.
Let us take a step back however and examine the three scenarios. They are:
- Michigan and Ohio enter The Game with each team having no chance of reaching the B1GCG. While this likely means more joy in Madison, Lincoln, or East Lansing than Ann Arbor, the effect on The Game is minimal. Though neither team controls its own destiny, the usual grudge match applies and the victor will revel in adulation while the loser suffers the humiliations of another year of failure. This is the scenario of the 2011 Game.
- Michigan and Ohio enter The Game with at least one team having a chance to secure a spot in the B1GCG. This scenario sees the grudge match in its more traditional role of having a great impact on trips to Pasadena and B1G championships. Again, the victor will enjoy spoils and the loser sees another season spoiled. If both teams need the win to secure a spot in the B1GCG, the intensity could be even more pronounced than usual. This is a scenario similar to the 2006 Game but with the immediate implications regarding the B1GCG rather than the BCSMNCG.
- Both Michigan and Ohio are already guaranteed their spot in the B1GCG. This is the scenario that Brandon supposedly thinks would be so great though I suggest it is sad and superfluous. The Game would not be The Game, next week's Game is the real Game. The rematch will determine the B1G champion while the first version will determine nothing. It is simply a qualifying heat and it isn’t even that since the qualifying has already been accomplished. Is there truly value in beating Ohio twice when once is all that would be needed? Why risk injury? Why risk spoiling a perhaps undefeated season for a game that is functionally meaningless? Think about that - The Game being functionally meaningless. Now perish the thought.
Ways around this sad situation include moving The Game to earlier in the season, and changing the conference alignment. In my next entry I will propose a new conference alignment. Thanks for reading.
Orson from EDSBS had quite the conversation with the master troll...
It was someone who was pissed off by how much they spent for B1G Champ Game tickets, while people are now getting them for like $11. An admitted B1G alum, not from MSU, Wisconsin, OSU or PSU (According to themselves of course)