It’s not quite the fourth quarter against Notre Dame, but Saturday had as many ups and downs on the Win Chart as any we’ve seen this year.
We’ll go with 5 plays each this week to mark the occasion.
1. Play 112, 14.2%, Robinson to Odoms on 3rd and 11 to give Michigan the lead back for good while the OL gave Denard all day.
2. Play 163, 11.2%, Robinson to Dileo for 28 yards on Michigan’s final drive.
3. Play 22, 11.1%, Robinson runs for 41 yards to tie it up early.
4. Play 165, 9.5%, Robinson runs for 14 yards to keep the clock moving and the drive going late.
5. Play 137, 9.3%, the defense gets in the mix, stopping Miller on 3rd and Goal from the 2, leading to the FG instead of a touchdown.
1. Play 7, –12.8%, Miller goes deep for the first score of the game.
2. Play 95, –12.0%, Miller goes deep a second time to give Ohio a halftime lead.
3. Play 172, –8.8%, Steve Watson’s personal foul pushed 3rd and Goal from difficult to impossible and increases the degree of difficulty on an impending field goal.
4. Play 134, –8.6%, Miller goes for 23 yards to give Ohio 1st and Goal at the 5 late in the third quarter.
5. Play 74, –7.1%, Miller uses my favorite NCAA Football play with an athletic QB, the wrong way speed option for a TD.
Ohio Game Scores
Rushing: +12, tops in Big Ten play and behind only SD St and E Michigan on the year
Passing: +11, second only to Northwestern on the season
Rush Defense: –9, worst score of the season
Pass Defense: –7, only Notre Dame was worse
Special Teams: +3, the late field goal pushed this to the top of the list for this year
Denard: As I tweeted earlier this week, Denard had the 5th best game of any QB this year at +24. It was both his best passing (+13) and best rushing (+11) game of the season. It was only the 7th +10 rushing performance by any QB this year and the first to pair it with a passing number higher then +3!
Toussaint: +1, a solid but not spectacular day.
Miller: Braxton Miller is going to be a force. His +15 (+6/+9) was his best game of the year by 6 points. His three games have been his three best. Had Ohio gone with him from the start Ohio is probably has at least 8 wins now.
Saturday’s +23 was the 9th best opponent adjusted offensive game of the year for any team and the best game in BCS conference play.
Fired Coach Dumb Punt of the Week
Several good candidates this week. Clemson punting from the 35 late in the third trailing by two touchdowns. Ohio punting from the 36 trailing by 6 in the third. This week’s award goes to the $8 Million Dollar Man Mike Sherman who punted from the 41 twice in the second half, going on to blow their
42nd 6th lead of the season and losing the final chapter of the Texas-Texas A&M rivalry on a last second field goal.
Big Ten Projection Recap
Team: Pred W, Pred B1G W
Illinois: 8.0, 4.5
Indiana: 2.9, 0.6
Iowa: 7.8, 4.6
Michigan: 8.0, 4.8
Michigan St: 8.0, 4.7
Minnesota: 3.9, 1.2
Nebraska: 10.1, 6.1
Northwestern: 3.9, 1.7
Ohio: 9.3, 5.8
Penn St: 8.5, 5.2
Purdue: 5.7, 2.7
Wisconsin: 10.3, 6.3
That’s an average error of 1.4 games/team in total and 1.3 in conference play. Ohio was clearly my biggest miss, missing both numbers by about 3 games. Wisconsin was dead on and Iowa, Minnesota, Penn St and Purdue were all pretty close. I had the top and bottom of the Woody division correctly ranked but the middle was a mess. For the Bo division I swapped Nebraska and Sparty both nailed the other 4.
Nationally, picking conference winners went decently. Virginia Tech is favored in the ACC title game, along with other picks of mine like Wisconsin and Oregon. West Virginia is right in the middle of the Big East mess. If Alabama could make a field goal they would be playing for the SEC title and Oklahoma is playing for the Big XII’s BCS berth at bedlam.
In the smaller conferences, Tulsa, Toledo, Boise and Nevada all had shots but fell just short of championships while Troy wasn’t even close in the Sun Belt.
Advanced Metrics All-B1G
Offensive players are listed as PAN (per game)/WPA (total). OL is excluded because I have no stats specific to players. TE are evaluated solely on receiving. Defensive players are listed as Plays/Value (count and magnitude of plays made negative to the offense). Kickers and punters are cumulative for the season.
This is not meant to be absolute, but it is a ranking based solely on the advanced metrics, no judgment calls on my part.
Russell Wilson, Wisconsin +13/+3.4
Montee Ball, Wisconsin +5/+1.2 & Marcus Coker, Iowa +1/+0.7
Drake Dunsmore, Northwestern +3/+0.8
Jeremy Ebert, Northwestern +8/+2.1 & Marvin McNutt, Iowa +7/+1.3 & AJ Jenkins, Illinois +7/+1.3
Broderick Binns, Iowa 47/32 & Whitney Mercilus, Illinois 35/36
Devon Still, Penn St 45/28 & Johnathan Hankins, Ohio 50/21
Jonathan Brown, Illinois 75/41 & Lavonte David, Nebraska 59/29 & Gerald Hodges, Penn St 52/28
Josh Johnson, Purdue 33/21 & Bradley Roby, Ohio 21/27
Brian Peters, Northwestern 32/28 & Drew Astorino, Penn St 34/18
Dan Conroy, Michigan St +12.4
Ben Buchanan, Ohio +10
Denard Robinson, Michigan +7/+3.5
Fitzgerald Toussaint, Michigan +1/+.4 & Rex Burkhead, Nebraska +0/+.3
Jacob Pedersen, Wisconsin +2/+0.3
BJ Cunningham, Michigan St +7/+1.1 & Nick Toon, Wisconsin +6/+1.0 & Da’Jon McKnight, Minnesota +4/+0.8
John Simon, Ohio 40/25 & Michael Buchanan, Illinois 38/18
Mike Daniels, Iowa 40/22 & Akeem Spence, Illinois 40/18
David Nwabuisi, Northwestern 51/21 & Ian Thomas, Illinois 47/20 & Will Compton, Nebraska 49/18
Tavon Wilson, Illinois 28/17 & Ibraheim Campbell, Northwestern 25/17
Jordan Kovacs, Michigan 17/27 & CJ Barnett, Ohio 25/18
Brett Maher, Nebraska +11.8
Cody Webster, Purdue +8
Ryan van Bergen, Mike Martin and Kenny Demens all narrowly missed spots on the second team defense.
Don’t know if articles will be coming weekly, but I have a number of articles and ideas in the hopper for the pre and post-bowl season.
A bowl game preview
The promised Game Theory Manifesto
A 4th down redux, a more detailed look at fourth down decision making with an added tool of offensive and defensive strength sliders for dynamic decision making.
A critique of success rates and the concept of “staying ahead of the chains”
A semi-related post on why I think the running back position is overrated
A more detailed looks at the EV and WPA implications tied to UFR.
EV and WPA by coaches and if I can find a good source of history, coordinators, as well.
Some recruiting themed posts around signing day on the back of a massive recruiting database I am building on the back of my play by play database. I think there is a lot of potential here, just don’t know if I can pull it off.
Any user submitted ideas that are sure to be better than what I have listed so far.
Play 18, +13.4%, Robinson to Roundtree for 46 on 3rd and 8
Play 73, +6.6%, Robinson scores from the 14 on 3rd and 1
Play 52, +6.3% Robinson to Hemingway for 26 on 3rd and 6
Play 46, –11.1%, Martinez to Kinnie for a 54 yard TD
Play 59, –7.6%, Brett Maher hits a 51 yard FG
Plays 54/55, –7.1%, Terrence Moore intercepts Denard (-5.1%) and returns it to the Michigan 34 (-2.0%)
It’s nice to see Denard re-claim the top 3 with both running and passing, all on big third down plays. Also good, when the second most negative play of the day was one that (at that point) was one you had no control over.
Nebraska Game Scores
Rushing: +1, not spectacular but effective
Passing: +9, second only to Northwestern, a very efficient performance
Rush defense: +2, didn’t allow Nebraska to do enough to set up the pass
Pass defense: +3, since ND, no games worse than -2
Special Team: +1, positive for the 4th straight game, even without counting the fumbles
Denard: +14 overall, +11 passing and +2 rushing, only Northwestern and ND were higher at +15
Toussaint: –3, final TD considered garbage time, would have pushed him to par
Martinez -4, +0 pass, -4 rush, his worst game of the year and first negative in the Big 10
Burkhead: +0 on his fewest carries of the year
Heisman and Award Tracking
My top 3 Heisman/QB:
1. RG3, Baylor: +3.39 WPA (2nd), +13 PAN (1st)
2. Russell Wilson, Wisconsin: +3.24 (3rd), +13 (2nd)
3. Kellen Moore, Boise St.: +1.77 (24th), +11 (4th)
Denard Robinson: +2.50 (7th), +5 (28th)
Robert Griffin’s big game against Oklahoma propelled him into the number 1 spot over Russell Wilson. Case Keenum is right in the mix, as well, but Kellen Moore gets the third spot thanks to the games against Georgia and TCU. Andrew Luck remains absent based on his good but not great resume.
1. LaMichael James, Oregon: +.69 (9th), +3 (3rd)
2. Joseph Randle, Oklahoma St: +.39 (24th), +3 (5th)
3. Montee Ball, Wisconsin: +.67 (10th), +3 (7th)
Trent Richardson, Aabama: +.29 (34th), +2 (11th)
Fitz Toussaint: +.22 (40th), +1 (41st)
As you can see from the magnitude of the RB numbers versus the QB numbers, I just can’t justify putting an RB on my Heisman ballot.
1. Kendall Wright, Baylor: +1.94 (4th), +9 (2nd)
2. Gerell Robinson, Arizona St: +2.47 (1st), +8 (7th)
3. Sammy Watkins, Clemson: +1.40 (12th), +8 (4th)
Sammy Watkins has slumped as the season as progressed and Gerell Robinson has come on strong of late. Justin Blackmon’s season has still been strong but nowhere near the dominance he had last year. Former Michigan opponents Jordan White and Jeremy Ebert where near contenders.
1. Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma
2. Whitney Mercilus, Illinois
3. Devon Still, Penn St
1. AJ Johnson, Tennessee
2. Danny Trevathan, Kentucky
3. Johnathan Brown, Illinois
1. Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma
2. Antonio Allen, South Carolina
3. DeQuan Menzie, Alabama
Defensive players are rated based on how many negative EV plays they make and the magnitude of those plays. They are then divided by the number of non-garbage time plays the entire defense has faced so teams that force a lot of three and outs aren’t punished.
Ron Zook Dumb Punt of the Week
Some tough calls this week. Notre Dame and BC both punted from inside the 45 with less than 5 yards to go in the second half, twice! Even though that game was an ug-fest both coaches get awarded dumb punt of the week.
Normally, I would have given the award to Mack Brown at Texas for punting from the 45 on 4th and 5 down 7 in the fourth quarter to Kansas St, but when your defense only gives up 120 yards for the game there is a defensible case for it.
The Game Preview
My son just turned three and he is starting to watch a little bit of football now. He always wears his jersey and says “Go Michigan” and asks every morning if today is a football day. I started getting nervous a couple weeks ago when watching other games he started telling me “I like the red team” for any team with red uniforms. This could not stand. So I started telling him that the red team was bad and he like Michigan. Yesterday I gave him a test and asked him if he liked Michigan or the red team, he yelled “Michigan!” and then told me, unprompted, that the red team is sad. I hope he is right, they deserve to be very, very sad.
PAN, National Rank (leader), B1G Rank (leader)
Michigan: +4, 10th (Georgia Tech), 2nd (Wisconsin)
vs Ohio D: +1, 38th, 6th
Michigan: +2, 41st (Boise St), 5th (Wisconsin)
vs Ohio D: +4, 15th, 3rd
Michigan: +2, 25th (Alabama), 4th (Illinois)
vs Ohio O: +1, 34th, 4th
Michigan: +2, 36th (Oklahoma St), 6th (Penn St)
vs Ohio O: –4, 109th, 12th
Michigan: +0, 74th (Florida St), 8th (Purdue)
Ohio: +2, 23rd, 3rd
A one-dimensional offense against Greg Mattison, yes please. Limit the turnovers and don’t allow any big special teams plays and I think the streak is over. Michigan 28-20
This week was essentially a pick-em so we’ll skip the spread and chart it straight up.
I have been making a few tweaks to the math behind the chart to take out some of the noise, especially on possession changes, hopefully it’s becoming a better product.
Michigan jumps out early, is in good position but can’t close it out for the second and third quarters before finally putting it a way in the fourth.
1. +12.5%, Play 3, Toussaint for 65 on the opening drive.
2. +5.2%, Play 5, Robinson punches it in for the opening score.
3. +5.0%, Play 153, JT Floyd picks Scheelhaase (+1.5%) and takes it back 43 yards (+3.5%).
1. –5.8%, Play 65, Michigan stopped on 4th and goal from the 1.
2. –4.9%, Play 33, Robinson’s first fumble with Michigan driving.
3. –2.7%, Play 137, Scheelhaase runs for a 31 yard score to cut the lead to 10.
Other Notes from Illinois
Last year we had a consistent defense and hoped our offense was good enough to win the game for us. This year we have a consistent defense and hope our offense is good enough to win the game for us. The difference is last year the D was so bad that the offense had to hit home runs to pull it out. This year the defense has consistently held serve and the offensive variability has largely dictated our success or failure.
This week the narrative expanded and not only did the defense hold serve, it produced extra value. This is the first game all season that offense had a negative win percent added (-13%) and the team still won the game. Iowa and Michigan St both saw negative scores but the defense couldn’t do enough to overcome.
How you feel about this game is largely dependent on how you view Illinois. If you view them as a Ron Zook coached mid-level BCS conference team you probably are part of the group that was uninspired about the showing on Saturday. You would probably point to stats such as Michigan had the best field position of any BCS conference team in any game so far this season and still only had 31 points (vs an expected 39 based on field position).
If you view Illinois as a Ron Zook coached mid-level BCS conference team with a stout defense and some weapons on offense, you are probably Brian. I have Illinois’ defense ranked #14 nationally at +7 and third in the Big Ten behind Penn St and MSU. Scheelhaase is a ranked as a top 20 BCS conference QB (+5) and AJ Jenkins is a top 10 receiver (+8, catches only) who was limited to +1 on a season-high 19 targets. I am in the second camp here. The offensive performance was far from perfect but the total performance of the team accounting for Illinois’ stout defense probably puts Saturday as the best/most important win of the year to date.
Rushing: –1, good and bad even out versus strong rush defense
Passing: +8, found some big plays and no meaningful interceptions
Rush defense: +1, decent day against a mediocre run game
Pass defense: +7, in JT we trust, apparently
Special Team: +1, a narrow miss on a FG away from best score of the year
Denard: +1 overall, +4 pass -3 rush, no games higher than +3 since Northwestern
Devin: +3, +5 pass –2 rush, best number of the year
Toussaint: +4, 3rd best of the year for a Michigan back (Fitz vs Purdue and VS vs E Mich, +6)
Scheelhaase: +4, +0 pass, +4 rush
Jenkins: +8 but took a season high 19 targets to get there
Third and Done
So I wrote this up on early in the week only to find that its become a topic across Michigan blogdom this week. Hopefully there is something new for you here, if not rest assured knowing that we own third and one.
Michigan hasn’t just been good on third (or fourth) and one, they have been amazing. Michigan has 15 stops in 27 competitive attempts against them this year. That’s a 44% offensive success rate. The national average is 72%. Michigan is literally getting twice as many stops as the average defense would on third or fourth and one.
Michigan is currently 12th over the last 9 seasons on the conversion rate in this situation. Only 1 of the 11 teams ahead of them have faced more than 18 attempts. The only comparison to what Michigan is doing so far this year is Boston College of 2008 who had 16 stops out of 25 attempts against. In fact, if Michigan gets two more stops on third or fourth and 1, they will have the most stops over the last 9 years in that situation. Michigan has ended a full 7 drives more than the average team would on super short yardage situations.
B1G Championship Game
The loss to Iowa effectively ended Michigan’s chances. I have them listed at 0.3% chance of making the inaugural title game but that assumes that Indiana has a chance to win on the road against Michigan St. A Sparty No on Saturday and a Michigan win puts the odds up over 20%. In total, Michigan needs wins over Nebraska and Ohio and Michigan St to lose to both Indiana and Northwestern. The Spartans hold a commanding 91% chance of making the title game, a win by both Michigan teams on Saturday would clinch it. Nebraska stands at about 8% but need to win out and have Michigan St slip to have any real chance. Iowa technically could win some 3 or 4 way tiebreakers but at less than 1 in 2000 odds, things don’t look so bright.
On the other side of the standings both Wisconsin and Penn St control their own destinies. I give Wisconsin an 84% chance of winning the head to head matchup so they have a 67% chance of reaching the title game. Penn St sits at 27% and thanks the Boilermakers upset over Ohio, those two schools both sit at 3% apiece. For Purdue the path is win out, Ohio beat Penn St, Illinois beat Wisconsin, Michigan beat Ohio and Wisconsin beat Penn St. Ohio isn’t dependent on as many game, but the odds are the same. Win out, Penn St lose out, and Wisconsin lose to Illinois.
My Heisman Thoughts
With some new chaos at the top of the polls, Wisconsin has got to be killing themselves for not being able to defend the deep ball late. It’s put them out of the National Championship race and buried Russell Wilson’s Heisman campaign. I think it should still be kicking. I have him leading in WPA (+3.0) ahead of Case Keenum (+2.8) and Brandon Weedon (+2.2) and EV (+13) ahead of Keenum (+12) and RG3 (+11).
Kellen Moore: +1.5/+10
Andrew Luck: +1.7/+6
Trent Richardson: +.3/+4
Denard still holds up well on WPA at +2.07 but his EV is way down at +4 and barely in the top quarter of all QBs.
PAN, National Rank (leader), Big Ten Rank (leader)
Michigan: +4, 12th (Georgia Tech), 2nd (Wisconsin)
vs. Nebraska D: –0, 63rd, 8th
Fitz: +1 (now in top 30 RB’s)
Michigan: +1, 50th (Boise St), 5th (Wisconsin)
vs. Nebraska D: +2, 30th, 6th
Michigan: +2, 21st (Alabama), 4th (Illinois)
vs. Nebraska O: +0, 53rd, 7th
Taylor Martinez: +1
Rex Burkhead: –1 (24th of 28 back that average 100 yards per game)
Michigan: +2, 39th (Oregon), 7th (Penn St)
vs. Nebraksa O: +3, 25th, 4th
Taylor Martinez: +4
Michigan: –0, 79th (Florida St), 9th (Purdue)
Nebraska: +2, 27th, 3rd
Rex Burkhead has the yards and the carries but my per play valuation point to a Nebraska team that pounds the ball on the ground for yards, but puts points on the board through the air courtesy of a throwing motion that makes Tebow look like Tom Brady. These teams are pretty evenly matched. Mobile QBs that are flawed passers who can succeed on the back of the run game and defenses far below historical precedent but not major deficiencies either. Michigan 31-28
Kick it off like we always do…
The early touchdown saw the unadjusted numbers drop below 30% but the spread adjustment kept the expectation at about 70% or above for the whole game.
Top 3 Plays:
Play #45, +12%, Robinson to Roundtree for 49 yards on 3rd and 20.
Play #73, +11%, Robinson to Gallon for 42 yards and 1st and Goal.
Play #67, +10%, Avery picks off the Marve deflection
Bottom 3 Plays:
Play #6, –18%, TerBush to Bush for 48 yards a Purdue lead.
Play #36, –9%, Robinson picked on third down.
Play #46, –9% Gardner picked for the first time this year.
The story of Saturday was mostly Fitz Toussaint, and rightfully so. His +7 on the day was the best mark for a Michigan running back on the season. In fact, other than Vincent Smith’s +6 against Eastern Michigan no Michigan back had even crossed +3 on the season.
The defense continues to do enough to allow the offense to take hold of the game. After four B1G games this season the defense has had a best Win Percent Added (WPA) of +6% from Saturday to a worst of –7% against Northwestern. That is a incredibly tight window to operate in and means that defense has essentially held serve in every B1G game this season. The offense is still doing the heavy lifting, but at least the defense isn’t adding to load this season.
Grades are in PAN (pts/game) and opponent adjusted.
Rush Offense: +3
Vincent Smith: +1
Pass Offense: +5
Rush Defense: +2
Pass Defense: +0
Special Teams: +1 (best of the year)
A little frustrated with the coverage on the Heisman this year. Apparently the NFL GM’s are now deciding who the best performer is in college football. This isn’t a knock on Andrew Luck, but just because the NFL says he is a sure thing, doesn’t automatically mean he is going to have the most deserving year. He has piled up good stats against bad teams so far and the conversation could still change.
Here are my ratings of the top contenders looking at both PAN and WPA.
Player, School: PAN (Rank), WPA (Rank)
Andrew Luck, Stanford: +6 (25th), +1.7 (8th)
Trent Richardson, Alabama: +4 (2nd RB), +.4 (11th)
Kellen Moore, Boise St: +11 (4th), +2.1 (4th)
Russell Wilson, Wisconsin: +13 (1st), +2.4 (1st)
Case Keenum , Houston: +13 (2nd), +2.2 (3rd)
Denard Robinson, Michigan: +6 (22nd), +2.2 (2nd)
Ron Zook Dumb Punt of the Week
Pickings were a little slimmer this week but this week’s award goes to the Will Muschamp and the Florida Gators. Trailing by 4 in the World’s Largest Non-Alcoholic but Actually a Total Drunkfest Party with a little over 8 minutes to go, the Gators faced 4th and 2 at the Georgia 37. This one works out for the Gators, even though they go on to lose, anyway. After taking a Delay of Game to give the punter more room (the first sign of a dumb punt), Florida manages to down the ball at the 4 and get a three and out. Florida gets the ball back at the 36, trading 2+ minutes on the clock to get a yard and a fresh set of downs, the Gators throw three straight incompletions and then go for the 4th and 10 but fail, never getting the ball back.
Projections and Ranking
If you missed it Monday I posted detailed odds for the B1G championship game. Michigan stands at 9.5% overall. Going 4-0 down the stretch bumps it up to nearly 40%. A loss to division foes Iowa or Nebraska effectively kills the chances where going 3-1 with a loss to either Illinois or Ohio still leaves the odds around 20%.
After an expected win last week against Purdue, the overall win projection for Michigan is relatively unchanged in between 9 and 10 wins.
Opp (Change vs last post)
@Iowa: 67% (-1%)
@Illinois: 55% (+6%)
Nebraska: 56% (-8%)
Ohio: 70% (-7%)
My Top 5
1. Oklahoma St
2. Boise St
15. Michigan St
19. Penn St
PAN, National Rank (leader), B1G Rank (leader)
Michigan: +5, 3rd (Georgia Tech), 1st
Iowa: +1, 53rd, 7th
Michigan: +2, 32nd (Boise), 4th (Wisconsin)
Iowa: –6, 118th, 11th
Michigan: +2, 25th (LSU), 5th (Michigan St)
Iowa: +3, 18th, 3rd
Michigan: +1, 43rd (Oklahoma St), 7th (Michigan St)
Iowa: +3, 23rd, 2nd
Michigan: 0, 88th (Florida St), 10th (Purdue)
Iowa: +1, 49th, 7th
The next three games are all slight Michigan favors before matching up with an improving Ohio team. A home game versus Iowa would make me more comfortable but I still think it goes our way, 37-30 Michigan.
One final note is that based on a little twitter prompting from @cdbarker I have begun work on a game-theory manifesto and it's going to be long, probably to be posted in December. Planned topics include: how to use timeouts, suprise on-side kicks, a better 2-point conversion chart and possibly a revisit of 4th down stategy. Hit me in the comments or @The_Mathlete with other things you would like to see.
Mid-Week metrics will be coming…well, mid-week.
Since we are within four weeks of the end of the regular, running some end of simulations start to make sense. Below are my projections based on my PAN ratings through last weekends games, run through 20,000 simulations and pushed through the Big Ten’s mildly confusing tiebreaking rules.
Odds of an outright win or two-team tie with straight ahead tiebreakers:
Michigan St: 58.3%
Three Way Tie: 6.0%
4 Way Tie: 0.1%
3 or 4 way ties mostly split between Nebraska and Michigan with a couple going Iowa’s way. Any 3+ team ties go against Sparty. The only judgment call I made was assuming in the event of a Michigan/Nebraska/Michigan St tie that went to the BCS computers I assumed that Michigan St would be out due to the ND loss and Michigan would lead Nebraska thanks to the head to head. Doesn’t change much, would swing a couple scenarios away from Michigan if they weren’t ahead.
In the end, Michigan’s odds are about 9.5% to reach the Championship game.
Update: MGoUser But I aint a Crip though had a good comment about Michigan's odds if they win out or go 3-1. Winning out gives Michigan a 37.5% chance of winning the division and going to the championship game. A loss within the division is a killer, odds reduce to 0.3% with a loss against Nebraska and 4.0% if they lose versus Iowa. An Illinois loss drops but winning the rest puts the odds at 21% and winning the next three but dropping to Ohio still means a 17% chance at the inaugural championship game.
Penn St: 42.9%
Three Way Tie: 6.3%
Four Way Tie: 2.1%
Five Way Tie: 0.2%
Despite a two game lead over Wisconsin, Penn St and Wisconsin are about even odds to win the division. Thanks to both of their losses coming out of division, Ohio wins almost any tiebreaker scenario they are in. There are a couple ties that the Buckeyes missed out on and Wisconsin and Purdue! split those.
If Michigan Makes It
Odds on who they would face:
Penn St: 41.2%
Odds Used for Each Game
Minnesota @ Michigan St: 99% MSU
NW @ Nebraska: 99% Nebraska
Indiana @ Ohio: 99% Ohio
Purdue @ Wisconsin: 99% Wisconsin
Michigan @ Iowa: 67% Michigan
What a crappy set of games this weekend
Wisconsin @ Minnesota: 99% Wisconsin
Nebraska @ Penn St: 52% Nebraska
Michigan @ Illinois: 55% Michigan
Michigan St @ Iowa: 71% Michigan St
Ohio @ Purdue: 61% Ohio
Minnesota @ Northwestern: 77% Northwestern
Indiana @ Michigan St: 99% Michigan St
Nebraska @ Michigan: 56% Michigan
Penn St @ Ohio: 57% Ohio
Wisconsin @ Illinois: 72% Wisconsin
Iowa @ Purdue: 54% Purdue
Iowa @ Nebraska: 87% Nebraska
Michigan St @ Northwestern: 89% Michigan St
Purdue @ Indiana: 81% Purdue
Ohio @ Michigan: 70% Michigan
Illinois @ Minnesota: 89% Illinois
Penn St @ Wisconsin: 85% Wisconsin
Taking a stroll down memory lane during the bye week to see how pre-season predictions stand now along with various nuggets of interest.
In my preseason post I grouped the season into four groups, Cupcakes, Just Don’t Screw It Up, Toss-Ups, Countdown Games (plus Nebraska).
Eastern Michigan and Minnesota coming into the Big House without much hope. Eastern was bad every year considered and only gets a slight uptick from returning starters. No points awarded for hiring Mike Hart.
Minnesota saw last year plummet below already-low-for-a-Big-Ten-team values and returning starters push them down slightly further.
Both of the cupcake games are in the bag. Eastern is looking slightly better than expected and Minnesota has inspired GopherQuest.
Just Don’t Screw It Up
Western Michigan, San Diego St, Purdue, and at Northwestern all seem pretty safe on their own, but there is only a 55% chance we go 4-0 in these four games. Successfully do that and a nine-win season becomes a more attainable. Dropping one or more will make it tougher to top last season’s win total in the regular season.
The last of this group comes on Saturday vs. Purdue. That game sits at 84% chance of winning, 1% better than preseason. So far we have taken care of the first three games from this group, a win against Purdue should is a must.
Notre Dame, at Iowa and at Illinois all place Michigan a percent or two below 50/50. 5-2 between these last two groups keeps us on pace to 8 wins. Iowa overachieved last year but is brought down to earth thanks to a depleted roster. Illinois is heading in the opposite direction after [NAME REDACTED] made one last run to save his job. Notre Dame is the highest rated of the bunch as Brian Kelly begins to purge the Weis ratings from the books. The Domers get the benefit of a strong returning group but are in the mix with Iowa and Illinois thanks to an under the lights meet-up in Ann Arbor.
The formula for eight wins was 5-2 against the previous two groups. Currently we sit at 4-0 here. Iowa has moved from 49% preseason to 62% currently, Illinois is holding at 53% from 49% in August, but showing signs of fading. Winning two of the next three would obviously guarantee eight wins and make 9 or 10 very possible.
Countdowns and Nebraska
To hold serve on an 8-win season, expect one win out of this group. Ohio has been the cream of the Big Ten for the last several years, but graduation and Tressel-gate have dropped the Buckeyes into the mix. Michigan State and Nebraska both saw 6+ point improvements last season and have a decent group returning. Nebraska should definitely be the better team, but they won’t have the luxury of home field.
Sitting at 0-1 from this group now but a real shot at picking up at least one and maybe two wins from here. Ohio is already sitting at three losses and despite only a single loss on the season, Nebraska’s projected strength seems overstated. In August both games were projected about 35% for Michigan. Nebraska currently sits at 62% and Ohio at 75%, virtually flipped from where we started.
All told, the eight win projection seems pretty safe. I am projected a 96% chance of at least eight wins. The coin flip win over Notre Dame and holding serve against the Don’t Screw It Up group pushed the 8 wins to 9. Despite the loss to Sparty, Nebraska and Ohio’s weakness has pushed that from a 1-2 expectation to a 1.5, putting Michigan smack dab between a 9 and 10 win year projection at this point.
Big Ten Predictions
2. Ohio St
3. Penn St
Drop Ohio St down a couple spots and everything looks about right.
3. Michigan St
Swap Nebraska and Michigan St and you have my latest projections, pretty good for the Big Ten.
Overall, the Big Ten is slotted third in my preseason conference ratings behind the SEC and what’s left of the Big XII
LSU and Alabama are the real deal but this is a down year for the rest of the SEC. Georgia is the only team outside of the big 2 that I have in my top 30 power rankings. Right now the Big XII sits atop my conference leaderboard, followed by the SEC and the PAC12/Big Ten. ACC is next with the smoking ashes of the Big East a distant 6th.
There is a lot of turnover in my conference champ picks. Only Alabama, Oregon, Boise, Toledo and Nevada carry-over. Oklahoma St, Michigan St, Clemson, Cincinnati, Houston, and Arkansas St take over for Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Tulsa and Troy respectively.
The three biggest overachievers versus preseason projections (+12 PAN vs projection) are Baylor, Oklahoma St and Temple. Michigan St is tops in the Big Ten and 5th overall at +10 vs preseason. Minnesota checks in at the bottom of the Big Ten at –11 vs preseason (which was already bad) and Michigan is #30 at +6 pts.
Ron Zook Dumb Punt of the Week
Goes to…Ron Zook and Paul Wulff at Washington St. Both coaches faced 4th and 3 from the opponent 38 trailing by 3 scores in the second half. Both coaches punted and both teams lost.
- Denard drops to #2 in Win Percent Added (WPA) on the season at 2.11. Logan Thomas from Virginia Tech holds the top spot at 2.17.
- Michigan’s offense has done more to contribute to wins than any other team. The offensive WPA is 2.61. Clemson is the only other offense above 2.
- The defense has been average in WPA, –.14, #63 in the country. Rutgers defense leads at 2.39 and the Nittany Lion defense is tops in the Big Ten at 1.63 games won on account of the defense.
- Michigan has dropped to #17 in turnover value on the season, producing 3 ppg of value more than average from turnovers.
- After starting slowly Michigan is starting to even out the field position disparity. Michigan ranks 71st nationally at –.06 points/drive difference vs opponents.
- Michigan is #5 in Red Zone efficiency with 89% of possible points scored on 23 relevant red zone trips. The defense is 31st, allowing 68% of possible points on 18 relevant trips.
- Denard is ranked as the 11th most value QB at +7 points per game (this adjusts for opponent, but not “clutchness.” WPA does not adjust for opponent but does adjust for “clutchness”). He is +4 rushing which is #2 behind Collin Klein at Kansas St. Robert Griffin leads overall with +15, Russell Wilson is second at +13.
- Jordan Kovacs is ranked #11 nationally in impact value, contributing 21 points on negative value plays for the opposing offense. Other LB’s are way down the list. Kenny Demens is #17 among Big Ten LBs at +9 and Jake Ryan is #26 at +6. Our DL hasn’t been much better with RVB tops at #16 among Big Ten linemen.
PAN (Points Above Normal), National Rank (Leader), Big Ten Rank (Leader)
- Michigan: +6, 3rd (Oregon), 1st
- Purdue: +1, 43rd, 6th
- Pass Offense
- Michigan: +2, 33rd (Baylor), 3rd (Wisconsin)
- Purdue: +1, 51st, 7th
- Rush Defense
- Michigan: +2, 32nd (LSU), 4th (MSU)
- Purdue: –1, 87th, 11th
- Pass Defense
- Michigan: 0, 53rd (Oklahoma St), 8th (MSU)
- Purdue: –2, 87th, 9th
- Special Teams
- Michigan: –1, 96th (Florida St), 12th (Purdue)
- Purdue: +3 , 9th, 1st
Purdue has special teams and everything else points to M. I do think that this could be a proverbial closer than the experts think, Michigan 31 Purdue 21