to play football, not to play trumpet
This is my first time using Windows Live Writer to post something, so if something looks weird, that’s why. I’m making some changes to my database to allow me to rank past and future seasons, other sports, etc. I wanted to get these ranking out there before I make these changes and before most of the bowls get underway.
There are a few tweaks that I made to the algorithm. The major thing is that I took out FCS teams. Imagine you have Team A that plays 12 FBS teams and Team B that plays 11 FBS teams and 1 FCS team. In graph theory, playing that FCS team gives Team B shorter pathways to the 120ish teams in the FCS. I felt this was an unfair advantage for teams playing weaker schedules.
I also experimented with how to factor in Win-Loss (long story short, nothing changed with this, so you can skip to the next paragraph if you would like). Think about MSU, Wisconsin, and Iowa. MSU beat Wisconsin by 10, which gave them a path of .5 (1 / 2 scores). Iowa beat MSU by 31, which gave them a path of .25 (1 / 4 scores). When multiplied by the Win-Loss factor at the end, Wisconsin would receive a lower path score for Iowa’s win over MSU because they had the better record. I didn’t like the idea that Wisconsin could get more credit for Iowa’s win over MSU than Iowa would. I messed around with applying the winning team’s overall record to each game, then the same with the losing team’s record. I tried lots of different things, but none of them looked right. I didn’t like the idea of doing something just because it looked right, though. I decided that the additional path length that Wisconsin accrues by having to beat Iowa (they only beat Iowa by a point, so the path to Iowa is 1 and the path to MSU is 1.25) was enough of a penalty on Wisconsin.
The last main change since I last posted is that I am now factoring in homefield advantage. I have calculated homefield advantage to be worth 3.77 points in FBS games this year. In the Big Ten games it was roughly 6 or 7 points. When I did the power ranking for the Big Ten, I experimented using the two values and decided that 3.77 was the better number to use. One, it’s closer to the value that is usually associated with homefield advantage, and two, it would change from conference to conference. Mostly, though, it would change the path lengths between teams when going from the NCAA ranking to the conference power rankings, which is something that I didn’t want.
Without further ado, here are your top 25 and conference power rankings to start out the post-season. Keep in mind that because the conference power rankings only take into account the games that are played within the conference, teams might not be in the same order in the conference and in the top 25.
|FBS Top 25|
|North Carolina State|
|San Diego State|
|Troy Trojans of Troy (We’re from Troy!)|
|New Mexico State|
|San Jose State|
I have an idea for game predictions, so I’ll probably post another poll along with bowl game predictions and comparisons to actual results. Sometime in January I’ll post polls for Basketball and Hockey.
First of all, I should thank Coach Schiano for the idea for this ranking system. I've taken the concept from his diary, made a few tweaks, and applied it to all FBS and FCS teams. If you need an explanation of what is happening, I suggest reading there first.
So, the first thing that I did was I loaded all of the game results thus far (excluding last night and this night) into a database. Then, I was able to write a script that built paths between every combination of teams with the lowest possible value. So, MSU beat Wisconsin and Wisconsin beat OSU. The first step is to create paths of length 1 for those two games. After that, I can calculate the value of the path from MSU to OSU and then create a direct path of length 2 between them. Iowa's path to OSU is 3 and so on.
Once I had calculated the minimum value for all possible paths, I averaged out the values and had a very redimentary ranking. This is the exact system that was used in the original diary to rank the teams of the Big Ten, but now we have expanded the teams to compare.
|Original, Unweighted, Without Record|
|North Carolina State|
As you can see, this isn't a very accurate reflection of the best teams in college football. It took me a few minutes to figure out what was going on, but it became clear when I realized that Michigan was on there. The problem is that this system strongly favors a diversified schedule. The more teams that you beat that don't play each other, the better chance you have of getting 2 or 3 length paths.
The first thing that I tried to do to fix this was to weight the games. Instead of automatically giving a team a path of length one for a win, I started dividing that by the number of scores (8 points) that a team won by. So, winning by 24 points, or 3 scores, would give you a path length of .333 over that team. This works out really well because it benefits teams that win by 2 or 3 scores, but it doesn't benefit teams too much for going beyond that.
|Weighted, Without Record|
This seemed to get me a lot closer to where we want to be with a poll, but there are still some issues. How can Auburn be ranked 14 and Missouri be ranked 3? Well, now there is too much weight on winning strong games. But wait, if that's the case, then why isn't Wisconsin ranked in the top 10? That's because all of their blowouts came in the Big Ten. Wisconsin looked like a pretty bad team at the beginning of the year because they won some very close games against lesser opponents.
The only way that I could figure to solve the problems with overweighting is to add another weighting component, which is actually pretty obvious. I decided to add a winning percentage multiplier at the end. Originally, I figured that the concept of graph theory would account for winning. What it really does is account for beating the right teams, i.e. it is the strength of schedule calculation. The reason that I went with a winning percentage is because I don't want to give an advantage to teams playing Hawaii or in championship games, so raw wins was out of the question. I also need a way to penalize a team that loses a 13th game. The only way to do this is to do a winning percentage. 13-0 and 12-0 are now 1.000. 12-1 and 11-1 are only .006 apart. This gives a slight benefit to teams playing an extra game, but also makes sure to penalize properly for losses.
|Weighted, With Record|
|29||Delaware (Highest rated FCS Team)|
|31||Jacksonville State (Beat Ole Miss)|
As you can see, this looks like a real ranking now and it won't automatically place an undefeated team ahead of a 1-loss team. I'm pretty excited about the outcome, because this is actually pretty comparable to the polls that are out there. How comparable?
|My Poll||R||BCS||R||D||AP||R||D||Coaches||R||D||Harris||R||D||Computer Average||R||D|
|Ohio State||5||Ohio State||6||1||Ohio State||6||1||Ohio State||6||1||Ohio State||6||1||Ohio State||9||4|
|Boise State||6||Boise State||11||5||Boise State||9||3||Boise State||10||4||Boise State||10||4||Boise State||14||8|
|Michigan State||11||Michigan State||8||3||Michigan State||7||4||Michigan State||7||4||Michigan State||7||4||Michigan State||11||0|
|Oklahoma State||13||Oklahoma State||14||1||Oklahoma State||16||3||Oklahoma State||15||2||Oklahoma State||16||3||Oklahoma State||12||1|
|South Carolina||15||South Carolina||19||4||South Carolina||18||3||South Carolina||16||1||South Carolina||17||2||South Carolina||18||3|
|Virginia Tech||16||Virginia Tech||15||1||Virginia Tech||12||4||Virginia Tech||11||5||Virginia Tech||12||4||Virginia Tech||20||4|
|Texas A&M||19||Texas A&M||18||1||Texas A&M||19||0||Texas A&M||18||1||Texas A&M||19||0||Texas A&M||16||3|
|Florida State||21||Florida State||21||0||Florida State||20||1||Florida State||20||1||Florida State||20||1||Florida State||22||1|
|Northern Illinois||22||Northern Illinois||25||3||Northern Illinois||24||2||Northern Illinois||23||1||Northern Illinois||24||2||Northern Illinois||25||3|
|West Virginia||24||West Virginia||24||0||West Virginia||23||1||West Virginia||24||0||West Virginia||23||1||West Virginia||24||0|
|Mississippi State||33||Mississippi State||22||11||Mississippi State||22||11||Mississippi State||22||11||Mississippi State||22||11||Mississippi State||21||12|
What you have here is my ranking along with some of the more common rankings you will see. I didn't think all of the computer rankings would fit in this chart, so I just took the average of them. The numbers to the right of the poll are the ranking of those teams in the poll and then the difference between that ranking and my ranking. The BCS poll does not show beyond the top 25, so I can't compare those teams to mine. At the bottom, you will see the average difference and and the most common difference between the polls. The team that seemed to cause me the most troubles is Mississippi State. They alone account for a little less than half a rank in each of the averages.
So, I'm planning on doing another ranking next week after all the games have been played and another after all the bowls have been played. I'd also like to do conference rankings and go back to previous years and "resolve" controversies. By next week, I will have tweaked this a bit more to add in homefield advantage and hopefully perfected the formula.
I have one last ranking for you. This is the algorithm without the margin of victory used to weight the wins. This is essentially what would be submitted to the BCS because they don't allow points into the calculations. It's interesting that it places Auburn in first now just like the rest of the computers.
|No Weights, With Record|
Ok, so we have 4 divisions: A, B, C, D. Each team has 3 protected rivals. In Michigan's case this would be OSU, MSU and either ND or Minnesota depending on whether ND joins the Big16. Those 3 rivals are spread across the other 3 divisions. So, Michigan is in A, OSU is in B, MSU is in C, ND/Minn is in D.
In this particular year, A and B get paired together to make Division 1 and C and D get paired together to make Division 2. Every team plays every team in their conference and one game against either rival in the other division. This makes for 9 games.
At the end of the season there is a pseudo tournament in each Division between all bowl eligible teams to determine the winner. The seeding is determined by the number of points that you have from your cross-division rivals. For each win against your cross division rivals, you get (9 - N) / M points where N is your rivals rank in their division and M is your rank. This makes it extremely important for you and your rivals to be ranked highly and for you to beat your rivals each year. Once the brackets are set, the bracket is simulated by the outcomes of the actual matchups throughout the season. The winner in each division plays in the championship game. The division which accumulated the most rivalry points in the above method gets homefield advantage.
So, lets say that Michigan is #2 in the division, OSU and ND are #1 and #2 in the other division and Michigan beats them both. Michigan gets 4 points for OSU and 3.5 points for ND. The #1 in our division beats both of their rivals which were ranked 4&7 in the other division giving them 7 points. Michigan would then get the #1 seed in the playoff.
I like this format because, like I said, it puts an enormous amount of pressure on teams to win the division and to beat rivals. Rivals being bad in a particular year won't necessarily hurt you (especially if you win all of your games in the division). It also possibly hurts teams like OSU who beat everyone, except that low team like Purdue. If they were matched up in the playoff, Purdue would have taken OSU out of the tournament and a team like Iowa or PSU could be given a chance at the championship game, which means beat ALL teams and you won't have to worry about it. It also only takes 9 games during the regular season, adds the benefits of a playoff without adding any more games, and adds some of the randomness of the playoffs.
I thoroughly believe that whichever quarterback learns the read option first and can run it to near perfection first will be the starting quarterback in years to come. It is the basic running play of our offense. I don't care if that player is Tate Forcier, Devin Gardner, or Nick Sheridan; if that quarterback can run the read option so we are getting 4+ yards just about every time, they will be the starter.
I think we all know that neither of our freshmen quarterbacks has been able to make the reads quick enough to run the play yet. Is this because they haven't had enough time to practice it yet? Maybe. However, I think the bigger issue is the ability to execute a fake hand off. A good fake hand off does two things: it forces the DE to make a decision to go after the running back or the quarterback instead of sitting in a comfortable spot to stop either outcome and it gives the quarterback an extra split second to read that DE.
To illustrate this, I have compiled several Picture Pages for different read options from different teams around the country. Several things to keep in mind:
- These are to illustrate why the fake hand off is important...not the read option itself
- Because of this, these are all QB keepers
- These plays are not identical; will, therefore, not have the same results; and are not intended to be directly compared with the results of our play.
- These are to illustrate why the fake hand off is important
Also, all of these images, aside from the Michigan vs. EMU game, were taken from ESPN360 or YouTube videos so they aren't perfect quality, but they still get the point across. I will try to post video for some of these later.
Illinois vs. MichiganIllinois ran the read option perfectly on the first drive against Michigan. The net result was a 27 yard gain.
As you can see they have a RB on either side of Juice Williams, two WRs up top, and a TE outside the LT. It is important to note where that the backfield is lined up around the 12 yard line.
After the play starts, the RB runs behind Juice as he begins the fake hand off to the left RB. The OL blocks right and the TE goes out for a pass leaving Brandon Graham to defend as the unblocked DE. Donovan Warren begins his coverage of the TE, but keeps his eyes on the exchange.
You can see that Juice still has his hands in the RBs gut. They are a full yard ahead of where they started the play at. Brandon Graham is forced to choose which to go for and he picks the running back. Donovan Warren has moved down field in coverage but still is keeping his eyes on the exchange. Jonas Mouton has started to move inside to go after the RB.
Juice pulls the ball and he is already 2 yards up field from where he started the play. Brandon Graham is out of position for the play. Donovan Warren is 10 yards up field from Juice. Mouton is still in position to make a play but...
The LT is able to get a block on Mouton and Juice is to the LOS with lots of field in front of him. Donovan Warren has come back to make the play, but he has to guard against the option.
Donovan Warren correctly plays contain and takes away the option, which springs Juice into the open field, at which point it is a foot race. He is forced out of bounds after going 27 yards on the carry.
Had the option not been in this play and all other things being held equal, Donovan Warren would most likely have tackled Juice after a gain of about 5 yards, which is what you hope for every time this play is run.
Michigan vs. EMUI looked through a couple of drives for Michigan in the Illinois game and I couldn't find a traditional read option play. I am convinced at this point in the season that the coaches have removed this responsibility from the QBs and will look to install it again next year. I did see a fake hand off, but the line moved with the quarterback keeper instead of the hand off, which tells me that this is not what I am looking for.
So to get a good example, I went back to the last game that I downloaded: the EMU game.
This is our traditional 4-wide read option. Tate is lined up at the 48.5 yard line.
Tate pivots on his right foot and fakes the hand off. The ball never even makes it to the gut of the RB; he essentially just taps the ball to the side of the RB and then keeps. The DE is going for the RB right off the bat (so maybe this isn't the perfect example, but just wait).
The OLB sees Tate keep the ball and breaks to the outside. This doesn't allow our RT to seal him to the inside, which would allow Forcier to break free.
Instead what happens is Tate has to cut back to the inside. If he is able to get by this block, he is open for a first down, but the OLB gets a shoestring tackle and Tate goes down for a small gain.
Now that we have seen the good and bad of what I am referring to, let's take a look at some more examples of good fake hand offs from teams around the country.
WVU vs. USF
Notice that Brown, WVU's new QB, is lined up around the 29 with 4-wide Trips right.
Before the snap, a WR goes in motion for the end around. You can hardly tell, but the ball is in mid-air at this point.
Brown's right foot makes it up to the 27 yard line before he pulls the ball. The DE bites on the fake and rushes in for the RB. The LBs are starting to come in to stop the dive as well. The safety is starting to come in for run support, but he is far enough out that the fake actually puts him in better position to make the play. Meanwhile, the end around and fake are forming into a nice option as well.
Brown makes it to the LOS and the safety has a nice contain on him. He pulls up and begins the pitch to the WR.
The WR has a block down field and all of the other players are now out of position to tackle him. The blocked CB ends up forcing him inside and tackling him to save the TD, only after he gets a first down though.
Had Brown not had the second option to pitch the ball, he most likely would have headed for the sideline and been out after 4-8 yards.
Same game, other team:
BJ Daniels is at the 37 yard line. It is hard to tell but the ball has just reached his hands.
You can see that BJ Daniels is two yards ahead of where he took the snap from before he pulls the ball. The WVU LBs bite on the fake even though they see this every day in practice.
BJ Daniels gets into open space with no one left to defend him other than the safety 8 yards up field. Chalk this one up as another big gain.
Oregon vs. CalThis will be the last one. I tried to find some footage of Tim Tebow's fake, but I couldn't find any and I am sure all of you have seen enough of him anyway.
Here, Masoli is lined up around the 14 yard line with the RB about a yard behind him on his left, trips right, and the TE lined up outside the LT.
Masoli pulls the ball about a yard and a half ahead of where he took the snap from. The DE is waiting for the play to develop.
Masoli gets outside of the DE and is tackled by the safety for a 4-5 yard gain.
This is what the average play should look like when the Defense reads the play properly and is in position. The other plays are what happen when one person on defense makes a mistake. The one thing that all of the plays from other teams have in common is a great fake hand off. The QB needs to sell the DE to get him to bite on the play and/or give himself enough time to make the correct read.
Like I said, I think the Michigan QB who is able to do this the best will be our starter. From what I have seen so far, Tate is on his way to being able to make these reads, but he lacks the ability to sell the fake. If he can do this, I think he will continue to be our starter. However, if Denard Robinson or Devin Gardner can learn this before him, I don't know if a Big10 defense will be able to continuously stop this especially with their speed and play-making abilities.
Their schedule looks like this:
WMU and CMU
FCS Team - Montana State (7-5)
Ohio State (1)
Their OOC schedule is nearly identical to ours. Change CMU to EMU and sub in a slightly worse FCS team and you have our OOC schedule. Their Big Ten schedule is ridiculously in favor of them this year. They don't play OSU and they have PSU, Iowa, and Northwestern at home. Those 4 and MSU were the top 5 teams in the Big Ten last year.
QB: 2 sophs competing for starts
RB: 2 sophs and a senior competing for starts
FB: 2 seniors competing
WR: 3 returning, including Mark Dell and Blair White
OL: Return the Left side and center, A junior and sophomore take over on the right
TE: Return their junior starter
DE: 1 returning starter, 1 junior
DT: soph takes over
NT: returning starter
LB: returning Sam and Mike, 2 seniors competing for Will
CB: 2 returning starters
FS: returning starter
SS: junior taking over
Basically, look at it this way. Their offense is like ours in 2004. Young QB with a ton of good WR to throw to. New running back to fill a workhorse's shoes (ours was Chris Perry).
Their defense is returning 7 starters and filling the other spots with a sophomore, 2 juniors, and a senior. Mark Dantonio was the DC for OSU when they won their NC (only after McGahee blew out his knee). He is going to ride his defense this year for his record.
So, how does this affect Michigan? I think what will happen is Michigan will beat ND. MSU travels to ND the next week and I think they lose a close game. After that, MSU goes to Wisconsin, demolishes them, and then we travel to East Lansing.
(4-0) Michigan @ (3-1) MSU
Michigan on Offense
Our offense should be clicking at this point. However, this will be Tate's first away game and he will probably struggle against a staunch defense especially with 3 of 4 returning DBs. We will need to utilize a lot of quick slants and bubble screens in order to keep Tate from making mistakes. Brandon Minor is going to have to carry this team through this game.With half the DL being replaced, he should be able to get a pretty good YPC going, but I wouldn't expect too many long runs with the extremely experienced LBs.
MSU on Offense
By this point we will know if their offense will go the way of Michigan 2004 or Sparty <Insert Year here>. I think they will be competent enough to put 20 points up each game, but not really blow anyone out of the water. The other unknown here is obviously our defense. Our line is almost completely rebuilt, we still don't know if our LBs will improve from last year, we have two safeties with no starting experience, and we have our third defensive coordinator and scheme in three years. Luckily, we start two 5 star recruits starting as our CBs and a former SS playing as our Sam. That should help us match up against their receivers and force them to take their chances running.
MSU 20 - Michigan 14
Originally, I thought we would win here. I think we still have a chance here (obviously, but i mean a decent one), but I think their defense will overpower us. Tate will have his worst game of the season going 1 TD - 2 INT, and Brandon Minor will have 100 yards with a TD.
MSU Season Prediction
Well, I have already stated I think they lose to ND and then go on a rampage, taking down most of the Big Ten. After us, they travel to Illinois, where I think they come down from their high from beating 2 years in a row for the first time in over 40 years, and Illinois destroys them. MSU the rest of their games except PSU. PSU wins a close game in East Lansing. If MSU doesn't win 3 games in every one of those categories above, I will be shocked at first, but then remember it is Sparty we are talking about.
Summary of Predictions for MSU
6-2 Big Ten
Losses @ND, @Illinois, vs. PSU
MSU 20 - Michigan 14
Warning: Long post
So, one thing that a lot of us have noticed is that Michigan has had a tendency to give up big plays this season. Our defense has been pretty good until the 3rd and really long situations in which they implode or when they miss key tackles.
I wanted to go back and quantify what I have seen this season, so I started out by looking at the number of yards for the touchdowns scored this year against us. I found the following numbers for the season so far (if they are off, it is because I counted them in notepad)
18 rushes for
16 passes for
18 fgs (I didn't bother with yardage because it doesn't help prove my point)
What I found disheartening was that half of passing TDs against us are for 20+ yards and just under 1/3 are from the opponents' territory. While that isn't exactly where we would like it to be, that alone won't cause problems in our season.
So, I spent a couple hours on ESPN looking at the play by play to determine how many of those scoring drives contained 20+ yard plays or where they started in Michigan territory to set up the TDs and FGs. I am going to count assisted points as points in which they got a 20+ yard play or started in Michigan territory due to a fumble/int on the scoring drive. I am doing this based off of turnovers and long plays because those have been our weekness this year. Long returns, safeties, punt blocks, etc are not counted because I am assuming that they are more random than due to problems in our systems.
55 yard pass on 3rd and 19 to set up a 8 yard run
21 yard pass on 2nd and 16 to set up a field goal
39 yard pass on 3rd and 7 to set up a field goal
Int to start at MICH 37 to set up a 19 yard pass
25 yard pass on 3rd and 5 to set up a field goal
39 yard pass on 3rd and 7 to set up a field goal
Fumble at Michigan 11 to set up a 2 yard run
Fumble at Michigan 14 to set up a 10 yard pass
48 yard pass on 1st and 10
60 yard pass on 2nd and 8 to set up a 1 yard run
Fumble returned for TD
46 yard rush on 3rd and 1 to set up a 5 yard run
20 yard pass on 2nd and 17 and
29 yard pass on 1st and 15 to set up a 22 yard pass
Fumble at Michigan 27 to set up a field goal
Fumble at Michigan 27 to set up a field goal
46 yard pass on 3rd and 1 to set up a 6 yard run
57 yard pass
77 yard pass
21 yard pass on 2nd and 12 to set up a 2 yard run
50 yard rush on 3rd and 2 to set up a 1 yard run
Fumble at MICH 16 to set up a 2 yard run
23 yard pass on 3rd and 13 to set up a field goal
Interception a MICH 40 to set up a field goal
Interception for TD
PSU (Safety, blocked punt points not counted as assisted)
44 yard run
25 yard pass on 2nd and 7 and
21 yard rush on 1st and 10 to set up a 1 yard run
Fumble at MICH 19 to set up a 1 yard run
80 yard pass
23 yard pass on 3rd and 16 to set up a 61 yard pass
64 yard rush on 1st and 10
44 yard pass on 3rd and 12 to set up a 4 yard pass
Interception at MICH 40 to set up a 7 yard pass
Purdue (3-3-5 game, points from fake punt not counted)
23 yard pass on 1st and 10 to set up a 2 yard run
35 yard pass on 1st and 15 to set up a 7 yard pass
20 yard pass on 1st and 10 to set up a 28 yard pass
26 yard rush on 3rd and 6 to set up a field goal
21 yard rush
20 yard pass on 1st and 10 to set up a 17 yard pass
53 yard pass
As you can see for yourself, only 3 teams managed to score touchdowns on us on drives that did not start in our own territory due to turnovers or long plays due to breakdowns in our defense. So far this season, only 78 points on such drives have been scored on us which is about 7 points per game.
I am not saying that those teams would not be able to score on us, but I am saying we handed over almost all of the points this season. If our defense were somewhat competent this season and we assume that teams only score half of the assisted points due to us holding them to field goals or them scoring half of the TDs (you can think about it however you want to), then the scores look something like this:
Utah 23-15 W
Miami (NTM) 16-3 W
ND 17-17 W (because we played better than them)
Wisconsin 27-15 W
Illinois 24-20 L
Toledo 10-6 W
PSU 35-17 L
MSU 21-21 L (because they played better than us)
Purdue 41-38 W
Minnesota 29-3 W
NW 14-10 W
I know this isn't the most scientific piece of evidence, but all of a sudden, those close losses become close wins, and those beat downs become close(r) losses. We would be 8-3(5-3), which is where I think a lot of us expected us to be at the end of the season.
Next season, with our offense having a full year of maturity and our OLine gelling a lot more than this year, I expect our turnover margin to be much closer to 0 and hopefully in our favor.
I am also hoping to see Graham, Martin, Campbell, Van Bergen, Ezeh, Mouton, Warren, Cissoko, Stevie Brown, Brandon Smith, and Woolfolk in a 4-2-5 so that we can hopefully try to minimize the long yardage plays.
*Speculation from here on out*
Looking to the schedule next year, I hope to see wins against Western and two other "cupcakes", a win against another blowhard ND team at home, a win against Indiana, and a win against MSU without Ringer to start the season. Considering the way this season has gone I may be entirely wrong, but I would bet that we make it to 6-0 next season. Possibly 5-1.
We then are at Iowa with a Senior Shonn Greene. With momentum from the 6-0 start, I expect a win here, but it is iffy. 7-0 or 5-2, I bet 7-0
We then have a Bye before hosting PSU. I think we might pull a win here because we are at home, JoePa will probably retire, and Clark will be gone. It could go either way. 8-0 or 5-3, I bet 7-1
Illinois. Juice Williams = Senior, Benn = Sophomore, Dufrene = 5th year senior, @Illinois. Loss. 8-1 or 5-4, I bet 7-2
Purdue at home, they will be rebuilding, revenge. Win. 9-1 or 6-4, I bet 8-2
Wisconsin, @wisconsin, revenge, still no quarterback and only a running game. Could go either way but most likely theirs. 10-1 or 6-5, I bet 8-3
OSU, @home, they graduate almost an entire team. Could go either way, but I bet in our favor. 11-1 or 6-6, I bet 9-3
So, anyway, I think next year we see some real improvement. I hope that they stick with the 4-2-5, and that improvements will limit the long yardage plays that have killed us this year. I also hope that our offense can play 4 quarters like they play in the first quarter of most of their games, but more importantly, I hope that we don't hand them the ball in the redzone. If all or most of these hopes come true then I think RR will have a lot more breathing room by the end of next year.