The road to Indianapolis

The road to Indianapolis

Submitted by dnak438 on October 24th, 2013 at 4:13 PM

Brady Hoke's self-avowed goal is to win Big Ten championships. Since we're facing the make-or-break section of Michigan's season after this bye week, it seems worth looking at what needs to happen for Michigan to win the Legends division and make it to the Big Ten championship game.

I decided to do this after reading on Football Study Hall that Michigan's chances of getting to Indianapolis by winning the division outright were 0.1% in a computer simulation. Why so low, I wondered? The author of that piece opined that

What truly surprised me is the almost zero chance that Michigan has to win the Legends Division outright. In 999 of 1000 cases model runs it needed help from someone else, or relied on tiebreakers to secure their place in the conference championship game. It looks like this is a direct result of the vagaries of their schedule...of the Legends Division contenders, they alone must face Ohio State. Also, if Michigan is to win the division outright it has to defeat both Nebraska and MSU. But in doing that it greatly aids the case of each to tie. It's a bit of a Catch-22 that Michigan finds itself in this year. Together, the odds of beating Nebraska, MSU, and Ohio State while Nebraska and MSU implode is pretty remote, hence the improbability of an outright Michigan division title.

To review, then: a team is selected to play in the Big Ten championship game by its overall conference record. Then there are a series of tiebreakers. If the records are the same, the head-to-head result is the tiebreaker. If three teams are tied for the same record, their records are compared to each other.

Scenario One: Michigan wins out

If Michigan wins out, then it ends the regular season at 11-1 overall, 7-1 in the conference. With wins over Nebraska and Michigan State, Michigan wins the tiebreakers even if Nebraska and Michigan State win the rest of their games (both Nebraska and Michigan State are undefeated in B1G play thus far).

Result: Big Ten championship game, almost certainly against Ohio State or Wisconsin.

Scenario Two: Michigan loses only one game, to a team not in the running for the Legends division

In this scenario Michigan ends the regular season at 10-2 overall, 7-2 in the conference, with wins over Nebraska and Michigan State. Michigan in this scenario drops one game against a team that is not a factor: Ohio State (not a factor because they're in the other division) or Northwestern (not a factor because they already have 3 B1G losses). We could probably put Iowa in this category: they have 2 B1G losses and are unlikely to run the table against Northwestern, Wisconsin, @Purdue and @Nebraska.

With wins over Nebraska and Michigan State, Michigan wins the tiebreakers. However, in this scenario Michigan needs Michigan State and Nebraska to lose one additional game in B1G play.

  • Nebraska still has to play @ Minny, Northwestern, Michigan State, @Penn State, Iowa.
  • Michigan State still has to play @Illinois, @Nebraska, @Northwestern, Minny.

So as long as Nebraska or State each lose a game, which seems very possible, then there would be three teams with two B1G losses, but Michigan would have wins against both of them, so Michigan goes to Indianapolis.

Scenario Three: Michigan loses to Michigan State or Nebraska

Note: this section has been edited thanks to a note by Key Play (see comments below).

Here is where it gets hairy. If Michigan loses to one of these teams, then it needs the following to advance to Indianapolis:

  1. Win the rest of its games, to end the regular season with two losses.
  2. The team that has defeated Michigan must lose three games in conference play (since it will have the tie-breaker over Michigan) OR it must defeat the other team and lose one other game in conference play.
  3. The other of the two teams, assuming that Michigan defeats it, must lose one additional game in conference play (since Michigan will have the tie-breaker).

Thus, if we lose to Michigan State and defeat Nebraska, we need Nebraska to lose one additional game (say, at Penn State) and we would need Michigan State to lose three of its four remaining games not against Michigan (say, at Illinois, at Nebraska, and at Northwestern) OR we would need Nebraska to defeat Michigan State and for Michigan State to lose one additional game. In the latter case, we would have a three-way tie, with no head-to-head tie-breaker because each of the three teams would have beaten one and lost to the other. Then the next tie-breaker is overall record, and both State and Nebraska have out-of-conference losses (to Notre Dame and UCLA respectively).

Discussion and conclusions

I won't go into further permutations, because it gets too complicated and would require running simulations, something that I'm not prepared to do at the moment. But this basic analysis points out several things:

  • Michigan still has the ability to control its own destiny and win the Big Ten, by defeating every remaining team on its schedule and then winning the Big Ten Championship Game.
  • BUT: The loss to Penn State is a really serious problem, because Nebraska and Michigan State have not lost yet in B1G play. That loss means that if we lose to Ohio State, beating both Nebraska and Michigan State may not be enough.
  • It is more important at this point that Michigan beat Michigan State and Nebraska than it is to beat Ohio State. A loss to Ohio State means that we need Nebraska and Michigan State each to drop a game, something that is certainly possible. But a loss to Michigan State or to Nebraska is much more problematic.
  • Our rooting interest is for Nebraska and Michigan State to lose games. It would be great if Wisconsin beat Iowa, just to put them out of the running.

 

Stat Dump - Hypothetical Big Ten division championships and title games, 1969-2011

Stat Dump - Hypothetical Big Ten division championships and title games, 1969-2011

Submitted by Gordon on November 21st, 2012 at 2:05 AM

Now that the Big Ten is in full meltdown expansion mode, a lot of people are asking about The Game and its impact on the Big Ten championship game, now and in the future.  How often both teams appear, how The Game affects the division champions for better and for worse, and everything affliated with it.

The biggest complaint has been a schedule that has Michigan and Ohio State playing each other every year, with weaker teams having guaranteed rivalries against each other.  As it turns out, due to regularly dominant teams...Michigan and Ohio State typically come out on top anyway.

I looked at the Big Ten standings and results from 1969-2011.  1969 is the arrival of Bo Schembechler, the start of the modern M/O rivalry.  And in 2012, Ohio State is ineligible to win the division, the first time that's happened as the game was being played.

The standings are from the regular Big Ten schedule, without it being weighted for divisional matchups.  Division winners were the two teams that finished highest in the Big Ten standings, as divided up by the current divisions.  (If a 4th place team was the highest of a current division's teams, they were the appointed division champions.)  Ties were broken with head-to-head matchups, and if the teams did not play each other, I split the division title.

----

First off, here's how the Big Ten championship games would have looked like, under the current divisions.

1969 - Michigan vs Ohio State
1970 - Michigan/Northwestern vs Ohio State
1971 - Michigan vs Ohio State
1972 - Michigan vs Ohio State
1973 - Michigan vs Ohio State
1974 - Michigan vs Ohio State
1975 - Michigan vs Ohio State
1976 - Michigan vs Ohio State
1977 - Michigan vs Ohio State
1978 - Michigan State vs Purdue
1979 - Michigan vs Ohio State
1980 - Michigan vs Ohio State/Purdue
1981 - Iowa vs Ohio State
1982 - Michigan vs Ohio State
1983 - Michigan vs Illinois
1984 - Iowa vs Ohio State
1985 - Iowa vs Illinois
1986 - Michigan vs Ohio State
1987 - Michigan State vs Indiana
1988 - Michigan vs Illinois
1989 - Michigan vs Illinois
1990 - Iowa vs Illinois
1991 - Michigan vs Ohio State
1992 - Michigan vs Ohio State
1993 - Michigan vs Ohio State/Wisconsin
1994 - Michigan vs Penn State
1995 - Northwestern vs Ohio State
1996 - Northwestern vs Ohio State
1997 - Michigan vs Penn State
1998 - Michigan vs Ohio State/Wisconsin
1999 - Michigan State vs Wisconsin
2000 - Northwestern vs Purdue
2001 - Michigan vs Illinois
2002 - Iowa vs Ohio State
2003 - Michigan vs Ohio State
2004 - Michigan vs Wisconsin
2005 - Michigan vs Penn State
2006 - Michigan vs Ohio State
2007 - Michigan vs Ohio State
2008 - Michigan State vs Penn State
2009 - Iowa vs Ohio State
2010 - Michigan State vs Wisconsin
2011 - Michigan State vs Wisconsin
 
Lots of Michigan/Ohio State games, but most of the other memorable Big Ten teams win some division titles.  The mid '90s Northwestern teams get two, the most recent Michigan State teams won three, and even Anthony Thompson's Indiana team has a division title under this setup.  Having Michigan and Ohio State in separate divisions does create a lot of rematches, but just about every deserving and memorable Big Ten team makes an appearance over the course of these games.
 
In a couple games, Michigan and Ohio State played themselves into potentially huge rematches.  2006 is the most glaring example, but 1973's tie game within the Ten-Year War would have merited a rematch, along with 1992's tie game.  And, just as the 1970's was the big 2 and little 8, nine straight years featured a title game rematch.

----

With that in mind, let's first look at the potential for rematches.

Going by the eventual matchups, 20 seasons would have featured Michigan/Ohio State rematches for the Big Ten title, or about 47% of the time.  16 of those, or 38% of the time, were outright victories with no tiebreakers.

Those seasons are as follows:  1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1986, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1998, 2003, 2006, 2007

Michigan would have won the Legends division title in 28 seasons, with 27 of those outright.  Michigan won more division titles than any other team, pulling ahead of Ohio State for two reasons.  The first is that Nebraska, a division rival, does not factor into these seasons at all, winning zero titles in their one eligible year.  The second is that Minnesota, a longtime doormat, also won zero division titles over 43 seasons.  In comparison, every team in the Leaders division won a division title, with five of the six (all but Indiana) winning at least three titles.

Michigan's division titles are as follows:  1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007

Ohio State won a division title in 26 seasons, with 23 of those outright.  The Buckeyes had a much stronger division to contend with, but much of their faults were somewhat of their own doing, from timely losses over the years.

Ohio State's division titles are as follows:  1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009

In only 9 seasons, the Big Ten championship game would not feature either Michigan or Ohio State, with 8 of those without any tiebreakers.  In only 19% of the time, a Big Ten championship game did not feature either Michigan or Ohio State.  Those seasons, with a matchup, are below.

1978 - Michigan State vs Purdue
1985 - Iowa vs Illinois
1987 - Michigan State vs Indiana
1990 - Iowa vs Illinois
1999 - Michigan State vs Wisconsin
2000 - Northwestern vs Purdue
2008 - Michigan State vs Penn State
2010 - Michigan State vs Wisconsin
2011 - Michigan State vs Wisconsin
 
----
 
Dividing up the division titles, here are the rankings of how those would be distributed.  The first list is how many divisions were won by all of the Big Ten together, and the second is sorted by division setup.
 
Michigan       27.5
Ohio State     24.5
Michigan State 6
Iowa           6
Illinois       6
Wisconsin      5
Penn State     4
Northwestern   3.5
Purdue         2.5
Indiana        1
 
Michigan       27.5
Michigan State 6
Iowa           6
Northwestern   3.5
 
Ohio State     24.5
Illinois       6
Wisconsin      5
Penn State     4
Purdue         2.5
Indiana        1
 
While there's a clear separation between Michigan/Ohio State and everyone else, there is also a large group in the middle of the conference, and a small group at the very bottom.
 
Michigan State, Iowa, Illinois, Penn State, and Wisconsin all ended up with 4 to 6 division titles, forming the clear middle ground of the conference.  The average Big Ten team finished with 4 or 6 division titles, with one or two eras of glory over the seasons.
 
On the very bottom, the conference's bottom feeders won even less frequently.  Each division had a team with around 3 titles, and a team with 0-1 titles.  Again though, everything is still balanced.
 
(While this is all speculation, Penn State's arrival in the Big Ten allowed them to rack up 4 division titles in about 20 years.  If Nebraska came in around the same time, we would have seen a similar pattern in the Legends division, with the Cornhuskers taking a couple titles away from Michigan.  Both divisions would almost literally balance each other out.)
 
----
 
Lastly, so you can see the methodology and how each division played out, every year's results are listed below.  Included are the standings, the Michigan/Ohio State result, the potential Big Ten championship matchup, and a brief recap of the circumstances surrounding it all.
 
There are a lot of great potential matchups out there, over the years.  Enjoy.
 
1969
Michigan, 6-1
Ohio State, 6-1
Purdue, 5-2
 - Michigan wins
 - BTC: Michigan vs Ohio State
 - Both division titles were clinched earlier
 
1970 
Ohio State, 7-0
Michigan, 6-1
Northwestern, 6-1
 - Ohio State wins
 - BTC: Michigan/Northwestern vs Ohio State
 - Michigan would have won division with a win, but fell into a tie (the two teams did not play)
 - Ohio State already clinched division
 
1971
Michigan, 8-0
Ohio State, 5-3
Illinois, 5-3
 - Michigan wins
 - BTC: Michigan vs Ohio State
 - Michigan already clinched division
 - Ohio State would have tied Penn State with a loss, but would have won division with tiebreakers
 
1972
Michigan, 7-1
Ohio State, 7-1
Purdue, 6-2
Michigan State, 5-2-1
 - Ohio State wins
 - BTC: Michigan vs Ohio State
 - Michigan already clinched division
 - Ohio State won division with a win
 
1973
Michigan, 7-0-1
Ohio State, 7-0-1
Minnesota, 6-2
 - Tie game
 - BTC: Michigan vs Ohio State
 - Both teams had clinched divisions earlier
 
1974
Michigan, 7-1
Ohio State, 7-1
Michigan State, 6-1-1
 - Ohio State wins
 - BTC: Michigan vs Ohio State
 - Both teams clinched divisions earlier
 
1975
Ohio State, 8-0
Michigan, 7-1
3 4-4 teams
 - Ohio State wins
 - BTC: Michigan vs Ohio State
 - Both teams clinched divisions earlier
 
1976
Michigan, 7-1
Ohio State, 7-1
4 4-4 teams
 - Michigan wins
 - BTC: Michigan vs Ohio State
 - Both teams clinched divisions earlier
 
1977
Michigan, 7-1
Ohio State, 7-1
Michigan State, 6-1-1
 - Michigan wins
 - BTC: Michigan vs Ohio State
 - Michigan won division with their win
 - Ohio State clinched division earlier
 
1978 
Michigan, 7-1
Michigan State, 7-1
Purdue, 6-1-1
Ohio State, 6-2
 - Michigan wins
 - BTC: Michigan State vs Purdue
 - Michigan tied for division lead with win, but lost to Michigan State earlier in the year
 - Ohio State lost division with their loss
 
1979
Ohio State, 8-0
Purdue, 7-1
Michigan, 6-2
 - Ohio State wins
 - BTC: Michigan vs Ohio State
 - Michigan clinched division earlier
 - Ohio State clinched division with a win, would have gone to tiebreakers with a loss
 
1980
Michigan, 8-0
Ohio State, 7-1
Purdue, 7-1
Iowa, 4-4
Minnesota, 4-5
 - Michigan wins
 - BTC: Michigan vs Ohio State/Purdue
 - Michigan already clinched division
 - Ohio State tied for division lead, two teams did not play
 
1981
Ohio State, 6-2
Iowa, 6-2
Michigan, 6-3
Illinois,  6-3
Wisconsin, 6-3
 - Ohio State wins
 - BTC: Iowa vs Ohio State
 - Yes, those standings are correct.  Ohio State and Iowa only played eight conference games, and everyone else played nine.
 - Michigan would have won the division with a win, by a half-game
 - Ohio State would have lost their division by a half-game with a loss
 
1982
Michigan, 8-1
Ohio State, 7-1
Iowa, 6-2
Illinois, 6-3
 - Ohio State wins
 - BTC: Michigan vs Ohio State
 - Both teams clinched divisions earlier
 
1983
Illinois, 9-0
Michigan, 8-1
Iowa, 7-2
Ohio State, 6-3
 - Michigan wins
 - BTC: Michigan vs Illinois
 - Michigan clinched division with win, but had head-to-head tiebreaker
 - Ohio State finished out of the race
 
1984
Ohio State, 7-2
Illinois, 6-3
Purdue, 6-3
Iowa, 5-3-1
Wisconsin, 5-3-1
Michigan, 5-4
 - Ohio State wins
 - BTC: Iowa vs Ohio State
 - Michigan would have won division with a victory
 - Ohio State clinched division with a win, but had head-to-head tiebreaker
 
1985
Iowa, 7-1
Michigan, 6-1-1
Illinois, 5-2-1
Ohio State, 5-3
 - Michigan wins
 - BTC: Iowa vs Illinois
 - Michigan needed a win plus an Iowa loss to clinch division
 - Ohio State needed a win to clinch division
 
1986 
Michigan, 7-1
Ohio State, 7-1
Iowa, 5-3
Minnesota, 5-3
Indiana, 3-5
Illinois, 3-5
 - Michigan wins
 - BTC: Michigan vs Ohio State
 - Both teams clinched division earlier
 
1987
Michigan State, 7-0-1
Iowa, 6-2
Indiana, 6-2
Michigan, 5-3
Ohio State, 4-4
 - Ohio State wins
 - BTC: Michigan State vs Indiana
 - Both teams finished out of the race
 
1988
Michigan, 7-0-1
Michigan State, 6-1-1
Iowa, 4-1-3
Illinois, 5-2-1
Indiana, 5-3
Purdue, 3-5
Ohio State, 2-5-1
 - Michigan wins
 - BTC: Michigan vs Illinois
 - Michigan clinched division with win, but had head-to-head tiebreaker
 - Ohio State finished out of the race
 
1989
Michigan, 8-0
Illinois, 7-1
Michigan State, 6-2
Ohio State, 6-2
 - Michigan wins
 - BTC: Michigan vs Illinois
 - Michigan clinched division earlier
 - Ohio State could have won into division tie, but lost head-to-head tiebreaker
 
1990
Iowa, 6-2
Michigan State, 6-2
Illinois, 6-2
Michigan, 6-2
Ohio State, 5-2-1
 - Michigan wins
 - BTC: Iowa vs Illinois
 - Michigan won into three-way tie, but Iowa beat both Michigan and Michigan State
 - Ohio State lost division title with loss to Michigan
 
1991
Michigan, 8-0-0
Iowa, 7-1
Ohio State, 5-3
Indiana, 5-3
 - Michigan wins
 - BTC: Michigan vs Ohio State
 - Michigan clinched division with win
 - Ohio State fell into division tie, but beat Indiana
 
1992
Michigan, 6-0-2
Ohio State, 5-2-1
Michigan State, 5-3
Illinois, 4-3-1
 - Tie Game
 - BTC: Michigan vs Ohio State
 - Both teams clinched division earlier
 
1993 
Ohio State, 6-1-1
Wisconsin, 6-1-1
Penn State, 6-2
Indiana, 5-3
Michigan, 5-3
Illinois, 5-3
 - Michigan wins
 - BTC: Michigan vs Ohio State/Wisconsin
 - Michigan won very weak division
 - Ohio State fell into tie with Wisconsin, where both teams tied during the season
 
1994
Penn State, 8-0
Ohio State, 6-2
Michigan, 5-3
Michigan State, 4-4
 - Ohio State wins
 - BTC: Michigan vs Penn State
 - Michigan already clinched division
 - Ohio State finished out of the race
 
1995
Northwestern, 8-0
Ohio State, 7-1
Michigan, 5-3
Penn State, 5-3
 - Michigan wins
 - BTC: Northwestern vs Ohio State
 - Both divisions were clinched earlier
 
1996
Ohio State, 7-1
Northwestern, 7-1
Penn State, 6-2
Iowa, 6-2
Michigan, 5-3
Michigan State, 5-3
 - Michigan wins
 - BTC: Northwestern vs Ohio State
 - Both divisions were clinched earlier
 
1997
Michigan, 8-0
Ohio State, 6-2
Penn State, 6-2
Purdue, 6-2
 - Michigan wins
 - BTC: Michigan vs Penn State
 - Michigan already clinched division
 - Ohio State fell into three-way tie, Penn State won by beating the two other teams
 - Ohio State would have won division with a win
 
1998 
Ohio State, 7-1
Wisconsin, 7-1
Michigan, 7-1
 - Ohio State wins
 - BTC: Michigan vs Ohio State/Wisconsin
 - Michigan already clinched division
 - Ohio State tied for division lead, the two teams did not play during the season
 
1999 
Wisconsin, 7-1
Michigan, 6-2
Michigan State, 6-2
Minnesota, 5-3
Penn State, 5-3
Illinois, 4-4
Purdue, 4-4
Ohio State, 3-5
 - Michigan wins
 - BTC: Michigan State vs Wisconsin
 - Michigan tied for division lead, but lost to Michigan State
 - Ohio State finished out of the race
 
2000
Michigan, 6-2
Northwestern, 6-2
Purdue, 6-2
Ohio State, 5-3
 - Michigan wins
 - BTC: Northwestern vs Purdue
 - Michigan tied for division lead, but lost to Northwestern
 - Ohio State could have tied for division lead, but lost to Purdue earlier
 
2001
Illinois 7-1
Michigan 6-2
Ohio State 5-3
Iowa 4-4
 - Ohio State wins
 - BTC: Michigan vs Illinois
 - Michigan clinched division earlier
 - Ohio State finished out of the race
 
2002
Ohio State 8-0
Iowa 8-0
Michigan 6-2
 - Ohio State wins
 - BTC: Iowa vs Ohio State
 - Both division titles were clinched earlier
 
2003
Michigan 7-1
Ohio State 6-2
Purdue 6-2
 - Michigan wins
 - BTC: Michigan vs Ohio State
 - Michigan clinched division earlier
 - Ohio State fell into a division tie, but beat Purdue
 
2004
Iowa 7-1
Michigan 7-1
Wisconsin 6-2
Northwestern 5-3
Ohio State 4-4
Purdue 4-4
Michigan State 4-4
 - Ohio State wins
 - BTC: Michigan vs Wisconsin
 - Michigan fell into a division tie, but beat Iowa
 - Ohio State finished out of the race
 
2005
Penn State, 7-1
Ohio State, 7-1
Wisconsin, 5-3
Iowa, 5-3
Michigan, 5-3
Northwestern, 5-3
 - Ohio State wins
 - BTC: Michigan vs Penn State
 - Michigan had clinched division earlier due to beating Northwestern and Iowa
 - Ohio State tied for division lead, but lost to Penn State
 
2006
Ohio State, 8-0
Wisconsin, 7-1
Michigan, 7-1
Penn State, 5-3
Purdue, 5-3
 - Ohio State wins
 - BTC: Michigan vs Ohio State
 - Michigan already clinched division
 - Ohio State would have tied Wisconsin with loss, those teams did not play in 2006
 
2007
Ohio State, 7-1
Illinois, 6-2
Michigan, 6-2
Wisconsin, 5-3
 - Ohio State wins
 - BTC: Michigan vs Ohio State
 - Michigan already clinched division
 - Ohio State would have tied Illinois with a loss, and Illinois would have won division with tiebreakers
 
2008
Penn State, 7-1
Ohio State, 7-1
Michigan State, 6-2
Iowa, 5-3
Northwestern, 5-3
Minnesota, 3-5
Wisconsin, 3-5
Illinois, 3-5
Purdue, 2-6
Michigan, 2-6
 - Ohio State wins
 - BTC: Michigan State vs Penn State
 - Michigan finished out of the race
 - Ohio State tied for division lead, but lost to Penn State
 
2009
Ohio State, 7-1
Iowa, 6-2
Penn State, 6-2
Wisconsin, 5-3
Northwestern, 5-3
Michigan State, 4-4
Purdue, 4-4
Minnesota, 3-5
Illinois, 2-6
Michigan, 1-7
 - Ohio State wins
 - BTC: Iowa vs Ohio State
 - Michigan finished out of the race
 - Ohio State would have tied Penn State with a loss, but would have won division with tiebreakers
 
2010
Michigan State, 7-1
Wisconsin, 7-1
Ohio State, 7-1
Iowa, 4-4
Illinois, 4-4
Penn State, 4-4
Michigan, 3-5
 - Ohio State wins
 - BTC: Michigan State vs Wisconsin
 - Michigan finished out of the race
 - Ohio State tied for division lead, but lost to Wisconsin
 
2011
  Legends Division
Michigan State, 7-1
Michigan, 6-2
  Leaders Division
Wisconsin, 6-2
Penn State, 6-2
Purdue, 4-4
Ohio State, 3-5
 - Michigan wins
 - BTC: Michigan State vs Wisconsin
 - Both teams eliminated from divisions earlier

A Better Big Ten Conference Championship

A Better Big Ten Conference Championship

Submitted by ScottGoBlue on August 14th, 2012 at 1:50 PM

 

The 2012 season draws near.  This topic may have been more appropriate in the winter or spring, but I’ve only just now taken the time to type it all out.  Hopefully it will be one more way to get excited about the football year to come.  Go Blue!

 

A Better Big Ten Conference Championship

2011 was the first year of the Big Ten Football Conference Championship game, and as a Michigan fan the first time I’ve really paid attention to a college conference championship game.  When the teams were decided (Michigan State and Wisconsin), my immediate reaction was, “A rematch?  How boring.  What a waste.”  I don’t agree with everything sacred to the MGoBlog-osphere, but I do agree with the value of “the regular season should mean something.”  Wisconsin of course won the rematch in Indy, reversing the outcome of the regular season thriller in East Lansing, which served as a foreshadowing of the All-SEC rematch National Championship game.  Whoop-dee-doo.

Also, I was curious to see how common rematches are in conference championship games in other conferences.  The Big Ten is 1-for-1; what about the other conferences with championship games?  It turns out that more than 1-in-3 conference championship games are repeats from the regular season.

 

CONF.

YEARS

REPEAT FREQ.

REPEAT YEARS

ACC

2005-2011

4 of 7    0.571

’07, ’08, ’09, ‘11

B10

2011

1 of 1    1.000

‘11

B12

1996-2010

6 of 15    0.400

’99, ’00, ’01, ’02, ’05, ‘07

C-USA

2005-2011

2 of 7    0.286

’06, ‘07

MAC

1997-2011

5 of 15    0.333

’99, ’00, ’03, ’04, ‘05

P12

2011

0 of 1    0.000

 

SEC

1992-2011

5 of 20    0.250

’00, ’01, ’03, ’04, ‘10

TOTAL

 

23 of 66    0.348

 

 

There must be a better way to determine the conference champion.

What if, instead of just two teams meeting up to play a 9th conference game, all 12 played a 9th game?  What if the 9th game was guaranteed to not be a rematch, but also was dynamic enough to get intriguing year-end match-ups?  The better way I’d like to propose is a “plus-one” 9th conference game, which we’ll call the “8+1 Conference Schedule.”

Each of the 12 Big Ten teams plays 8 of their 11 conference opponents, leaving 3 teams they don’t get to play.  The “plus-one” conference game would be against one team you didn’t play, determined at the end of the 8 conference games, with priority given to sorting out the conference champion and intriguing match-ups.  The “plus-one” game would be hosted on campus by the team with the better conference record through 8 games.  In the event of a tie, whichever team was on the road the last time would host the game. 

Practically speaking, this would probably work best if the 8 games finished the weekend before Thanksgiving, each Big Ten team then had a bye on Thanksgiving weekend, and then played the “plus-one” games the first week of December.  That would allow sufficient time to make the pairings and sell tickets, plus give the players a breather and a holiday.  Also, whether this would be a 13th game or would replace one non-conference game (keeping a 12-game schedule) is open for debate..

Okay, so here’s what it would have looked like in 2011.  The Big Ten Conference standings turned out as follows:

 

LEADERS

WINS

LOSSES

DID NOT PLAY

Wisconsin

6

2

Mich, Iowa, NW

Penn State

6

2

MSU, Mich, Minn

Purdue

4

4

MSU, Neb, NW

Ohio State

3

5

Iowa, NW, Minn

Illinois

2

6

MSU, Neb, Iowa

Indiana

0

8

Mich, Neb, Minn

LEGENDS

WINS

LOSSES

DID NOT PLAY

Michigan State

7

1

PSU, Pur, Ill

Michigan

6

2

Wisc, PSU, Ind

Nebraska

5

3

Pur, Ill, Ind

Iowa

4

4

Wisc, OSU, Ill

Northwestern

3

5

Wisc, Pur, OSU

Minnesota

2

6

PSU, OSU, Ind

 

Michigan State at 7-1 gets first consideration, and could play Penn State (6-2), Purdue (4-4), or Illinois (2-6).  Best Match-up: Penn State

Wisconsin is next since they shared the top record in Leaders division with Penn State, but won head-to-head.  They could play Michigan (6-2), Iowa (4-4), or Northwestern (3-5).  Best Match-up: Michigan

Nebraska is the next team remaining after Penn State and Michigan got snatched up.   They could play Purdue (4-4), Illinois (2-6), or Indiana (0-8).  Best Match-up: Purdue

Iowa is the best team remaining, and they didn’t play Wisconsin (7-1), Ohio State (3-5), or Illinois (2-6).  Ohio State is the best match-up, but then Northwestern would have no one left to play.  Best Match-up: Illinois

Northwestern didn’t play Wisconsin (7-1), Purdue (4-4), or Ohio State (3-5).  Best Match-up: Ohio State

Minnesota didn’t play Penn State (6-2), Ohio State (3-5), or Indiana (0-8).  Battle of the basement-dwellers!  Best Match-up: Indiana

 

2011 “Plus-One” Conference Games (home team in CAPS)

·      MICHIGAN STATE (7-1) v. Penn State (6-2)

·      WISCONSIN (6-2) v. Michigan (6-2)*

·      NEBRASKA (5-3) v. Purdue (4-4)

·      IOWA (4-4) v. Illinois (2-6)

·      OHIO (3-5) v. Northwestern (3-5)**

·      MINNESOTA (2-6) v. Indiana (0-8)

* Michigan last hosted v. Wisconsin, in 2008

** Northwestern last hosted v. Ohio, in 2008

 

So, on the first Saturday of December, would you rather have the line-up above?  Or Wisconsin-Michigan State, The Rematch in Indy!!!

In this scenario, Michigan State would probably end up the undisputed champion, with a home win over Penn State.  The only confusing scenario is if Penn State and Michigan win their games, and then three teams end up with 7-2 conference records.  For the top bowl bid, we would then go to traditional tie-breakers.  The head-to-head results give the edge to Penn State, by virtue of beating Michigan State who beat Michigan (Michigan and Penn State didn’t play each other even with the plus-one).  In the event that head-to-head can’t break the tie, the next tie-breaker would be least-recent champion gets the top bowl bid.  Simple enough.

 

8+1 Conference Schedule Benefits:

·      No underwhelming repeat conference championship game

·      Values the regular season games already played

·      On-campus rather than neutral-site means most tickets will be sold to fans who care about the match-up

·      The whole Big Ten is playing in December, raising our end-of-season profile against other conferences

·      More interesting way of determining the conference champion AND unique to the Big Ten “brand” (sets us apart from the SEC, ACC, P12, and B12)

 

Thoughts?  Critiques?

Do we REEEEALLY want to go to INDY? EDIT: Hell yes.

Do we REEEEALLY want to go to INDY? EDIT: Hell yes.

Submitted by sheepdog on October 31st, 2011 at 1:11 PM

Thanks for the great explanation from MVictors for clearly explaining the Big Ten rules for tie-breakers and how Michigan can get to the Big Ten title game.  But while everyone is so focused on getting to Indy, I thought of something else.  As crazy as it sounds, is going to Indy the most profitable thing for Michigan? Obviously, we would have the chance to be the conference champion and play in the Rose Bowl – I get that.

(   )o(   ) <--- big but, if we win out and MSU wins out, we would still have a great national ranking and still play in a BCS bowl.  If Michigan wins out (and so does MSU), they will be 11-1, easily be a top 10 team and could take one of the at-large bids.  If MSU loses, Michigan would go to the championship game, where they would have to face the Leaders division champ – not going to try to guess who that is, I only see it has one more (good) opportunity to lose.

So, if we win out (and MSU goes to Indy)= 11-1, BCS at-large

Win Big ten Champ= 12-1, Rose Bowl

Lose Big Ten Champ= 11-2, Capital One-ish bowl.

 

I only bring it up to gage the MGoCommunity on whether they would rather not go to the BTCG (under these circumstances) at all and get an at large bid, or go to the BTCG, risk losing and go to a Capital One-ish bowl.

Personally – I would like to see us go to the BTCG, I just reeeeeally don’t want to lose if we go!

Discuss…

EDIT - OK OK OK...Obviously we want to play and win the BTCG, I was only trying to solicit response from a scenario that has not been brought up. 

B1G Championship Game Site Downselect

B1G Championship Game Site Downselect

Submitted by MGoShoe on May 17th, 2011 at 10:08 PM

According to this Adam Rittenberg article, it's likely that one of two candidates will be chosen to be the long term site of the B1G Football Championship Game and the Men's and Women's Basketball Tournaments: Chicago/Hoffman Estates and Indianapolis.

The two groups both made detailed presentations Tuesday before Big Ten athletic directors and other officials at the league's spring meetings. Although other cities and facilities have expressed interest in hosting future Big Ten football championship games -- Detroit, Cleveland, Green Bay -- the league is almost certainly going to go with Chicago/Hoffman Estates and/or Indianapolis.

Indianapolis is bidding to host the football championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium and both the men's and women's basketball tournaments at Conseco Fieldhouse. The [Chicago/Hoffman Estates] group would host the football championship at Soldier Field, the men's basketball tournament at the United Center and the women's hoops tournament at Sears Centre in suburban Hoffman Estates.

Could other cities still get involved? A rotation of championship sites remains possible, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said. "[But t]hose are the two cities we're talking to right now. We are where we're going to be. That's who we've spoken with so far. We would send the signal, but for now, these are the two cities we've sent signals to."

The inaugural Big Ten football title game takes place Dec. 3 at Lucas Oil in Indianapolis. Big Ten basketball tournaments have been held at both Conseco Fieldhouse and the United Center, although Indianapolis has hosted the events exclusively since 2008.

Question on Criteria for Winning Leaders/Legends Divisions

Question on Criteria for Winning Leaders/Legends Divisions

Submitted by saveferris on May 9th, 2011 at 1:42 PM

Has the Big 10 published anything regarding how the representatives for the Big 10 Championship Game will be determined.  Presumably, the respective winners of the Leaders / Legends divisions will first be based upon the their overall conference record with (notional) tie-breakers being:

  1. Divisional Record
  2. Overall Record
  3. Head-to-Head
  4. BCS Ranking
  5. Total Points...etc...

...in some order of hierarchy.  I figure I'm close with the above, but I'm curious as to whether the conference will favor inter-divisional performance over head-to-head results over national ranking.  I was poking around bigten.org and found nothing on this.  Anyone know?

Big Ten Championship Game

Big Ten Championship Game

Submitted by maddogcody on August 5th, 2010 at 6:34 AM

When Delany discussed locations that the Big Ten Championship could be played, he mentioned something that I thought was VERY interesting. He referred to how other sports, like the NFL, play games overseas sometimes. I'm wondering if he wants to play the Big Ten championship in New York... maybe http://www.newmeadowlandsstadium.com

That would be a trip. Litterally for many fans. The exposure though, would be tremendous. Although, I don't think it has a dome, so that might be rather cold in December. I'm leaning more twards ensuring that the game is played indoor each year by rotating between Ford Field and Lucas Oil, and a select few other stadiums.

I would really like to see a rule created that would assist a BigTen team vying for a National Championship game. I would prefer that if the two teams playing for the BigTen Championship had met during the regular season, the BigTen Championship game be played on said winner's home field. That would be a tremendous advantage for that team, deservedly so IMHO. Might be hard to set up, considering the planning that would be required for the championship game each year, though I think it would be worth it. How dissapointing would it be to hear that the BigTen hasn't won, or even played in, a National Championship for the last 10 years?