What’s a 5 Star Really Worth: Predicting Future Team Success Off of Recruiting Rankings

What’s a 5 Star Really Worth: Predicting Future Team Success Off of Recruiting Rankings

Submitted by The Mathlete on January 17th, 2012 at 11:10 AM

We all know it matters. Otherwise there wouldn’t be four major recruiting sites, countless team-specific recruiting blogs and grown men tweeting and facebooking 17 year old high school males, and breathlessly refreshing message boards for the next 14 days.

The question I want to answer is how much does it matter, and where do the numbers play out the most? How much of team success can be predicted based on recruiting profile of the present roster (not the JUCO-stuffed 38 member SEC class that the majority never shows)? Do recruiting services do a better job of predicting offense or defense? Which is more likely to win you conference and national championships, the 5 star running back or the 5 star linebacker?

Methodology

I have created a complimentary recruiting database that links into my PBP database. For a source I picked Rivals because I wanted to keep it relatively straightforward and they have a full 10-year history online. I only looked at the players who were ranked at their position. Each year that is about 1,000 players and virtually every signee from a major program. Anyone not ranked for their position was omitted. I only have comprehensive rosters for all teams for the last three years, so for that time period I did my best to link the two DBs together. I am sure there are a few that I am missing but I think I got all the Dee Harts linked up with Demetrius Harts and all the other weird things that happen to a recruit's name between recruitment and the official roster.

Each recruit is given an initial value. The value is roughly

[Percentile within position] * [# of stars] ^ 2

So a 5 star #1 at his position recruit is worth about 25 points and a 50th percentile 3 star would be worth 4.5 pts. The initial value is then adjusted based on how long the player has been in the program.

The recruits are then matched up with the final rosters. Players are only counted if they are still on the roster. So any players that have transferred, left school or gone to the NFL are excluded from the totals. The only major gap is transfers. For ones I knew of right away like Cam Newton or Ryan Mallet, they only count at their final school. Most other transfers will only show up at the original school for their time there and then disappear from the grid. Players are then given a “bonus” multiplier based on their experience. Players' initial values are doubled from their first year to their second year and tripled for every year after that.

That’s a lot fewer words than hours put in but in a nutshell, that’s the background for what I will show you below. The magnitude of the points isn’t relevant, all you need to know is the more points the better.

Answer Your Question Already

When you start talking to yourself within an article on mgoblog, there is only one appropriate response, CHART

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Lot’s of variation within the numbers but definitely a strong correlation between recruiting points and team PAN [ed: points above normal, the Mathlete's SOS- and situation-adjusted stat]. For all the charts I put up the data will be BCS schools from 2009-2011. Recruits prior to 2009 will be included, but only the actual seasons of play from 2009 on.

There have been some really good seasons from teams with <1,000 pts like Oklahoma St this past season (896). There have also been some mediocre season from teams with 3,000+ points like Texas in 2010 (3,082 pts). But all in all more recruits is better, but we already knew that. So let’s dig a little deeper and see if recruiting rankings mean more for offense or defense and if any position groups are better indicators than others.

Who To Trust, Offense or Defense

Moving to specifics can become a bit more of a challenge. To ease that, I counted every recruit in the position they play, not the position that they are recruited for. They keep the same point total they would at the original position, it just counts in a different bucket. Whether its a WR moving to DB or an ATH finding a home, the points are set based on the initial group ranking, but they are allocated based on the roster position. On to the offense.

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The correlation is still there, but it is much weaker for the offense as opposed to the team as a whole. In fact, most of the best offensive seasons were accomplished with relatively average recruiting talent. The ultimate loaded team, 2009 USC, only managed a 3.3 on offense with 10% pts more than any other team I have measured. Teams like the latest incarnations of Michigan and Oregon were able to achieve double digit offensive PAN without elite offensive recruiting classes.

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Defensive recruiting is much more correlated with defensive success than offensive. The slope is nearly double and the R-Squared is much greater as well. There are still exceptions like 2009 Florida St who was almost –10 PAN despite over 1,000 defensive recruiting points. There is still success on the lower range but overall there are fewer failures at the top and less success at the bottom of defensive recruiting rankings.

Based on this data, system, player development and finding diamonds in the rough are more prevalent on offense than defense. On defense there is some variation but for the most part you are who you recruit. Unless you hire Greg Robinson and even your Never Forget roster still has 853 points to “earn” a –7 on the season.

The Best Position To Be In

Since the defense as a whole proved to be the most predictive, let’s look there first.

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Being a good defense is all about your weakest link and based on that philosophy, you shouldn’t be surprised to see all positions play out relatively equal. None of the position groups is significantly better or worse than another at predicting defensive success.

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Offense is where it really gets muddled. O-Line, tight ends and receivers all are moderate correlations between recruiting and offensive success and running backs (as I’ve stated elsewhere) are the most overrated position in football. Quarterback is far and away the highest correlation to offensive success of any position. Even with that QB, is still below all of the defensive positions when it comes to future success on that side of the ball.

Conference Variation

How recruiting matches up with success varies greatly by conference. Rather than throw up six more charts, I just put the R^2 values in a table:

Conf R^2
ACC 0.50
Big East 0.07
Big Ten 0.33
Big 12 0.22
PAC 12 0.06
SEC 0.43

Recruiting has virtually no correlation to success over the last three years in the Big East and the PAC 12 but for the other four conferences it's anywhere from a little (Big 12, land of Red River and everyone else) to a lot (the ACC and the SEC).

The Big Ten is in the middle; Ohio St has dominated at the top of both recruiting and success but Michigan’s underachievement and Wisconsin and Nebraska having strong seasons without top tier recruiting classes have thrown in enough variance to disrupt the correlation.

Your 5 Star Takeaway

Recruiting rankings have a huge correlation to future team success, especially on defense. Great teams can come from average talent, but more talent typically means more success. On defense it is virtually impossible to build an elite defense without elite recruits, and its equally true across all defensive positions. On offense dreams of 5 star skill position players are fun, but coaching, player development, system and luck play a much bigger role in future success than they do on defense. With top 20 and higher recruits at nearly every position on defense, Michigan is poised for a very strong future if they can keep the talent around.

A Quick Sugar Bowl Preview and Game Theory Follow-Ups

A Quick Sugar Bowl Preview and Game Theory Follow-Ups

Submitted by The Mathlete on January 3rd, 2012 at 3:49 PM

Back at the real job today after a great two weeks of football, ready to start cheering for the team I love, not just the one I have money on like the uniforms better.

Virginia Tech Preview

PAN, National Rank (leader)

Rush Offense

Michigan: +5, 4th (Oregon)

vs VT: +1, 40th

Pass Offense

Michigan: +3, 29th (Baylor)

vs VT: +3, 22nd

Rush Defense

Michigan: +1, 46th (Alabama)

vs VT: +2, 28th

Pass Defense

Michigan: +1, 39th (Texas)

vs. VT: +2, 31st

Special Teams

Michigan: +0, 60th

vs VT: –0, 73rd

A pretty close match-up in all areas except when Michigan is rushing the ball. That’s likely the best avenue for Michigan to leverage. With arrests, suspensions and a late season Michigan surge, special teams could be an opening as well. This should be a close one but this game is Michigan’s to lose, 31-28 Michigan.

Ron Zook Memorial Dumb Punt of the Bowl Season

Haven’t had a chance to review all of the bowl games, but Wisconsin’s first quarter punt has to be the top contender. Two potent offenses, touchdowns on the first three possessions and the Badgers face 4th and 3 at the Oregon 38. Despite the best scrambling QB in college football and an offense geared to pound the ball on the ground against a defense that hadn’t stopped them in their first two drives, Wisconsin played field position. Against Oregon. Two plays later the Black Mamba is flashing chrome 91 yards for a TD in a 7 point Ducks win. Wisconsin is 22/30 on 3rd and 2-4 yards on the season in competitive situations.

Richt/Shaw/NFL Coaching Conservatory

This was just brutal watching teams play for field goals. It’s not a great strategy in the NFL where nearly all the kickers are money inside of 40 and pretty good from 40-55. College kickers, even the good ones, not so much. Here is the table I use to estimate kicker success. From the 25 even a top-notch college kicker is going to miss 20%, an average one is going to miss nearly half the time. Getting a single first down moves the odds significantly. 

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One other update to the Game Theory Manifesto that I tweeted about during the MSU/Georgia trying not to lose-fest, if you are in the lead and the other team has time-outs left, don’t run up the middle on third down unless you think that’s your best shot to get the first down. The clock is going to stop after your play no matter what. One extra timeout in your opponent’s pocket has very little chance of deciding the game. A first down in most cases will end or nearly end the game. Don’t be careless but if you have a dependable QB like Aaron Murray, throw the ball and give yourself a chance to end the game.

Mid-Week Metrics Honors the Fallen Coach

Mid-Week Metrics Honors the Fallen Coach

Submitted by The Mathlete on December 2nd, 2011 at 10:04 AM

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.

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We’ll go with 5 plays each this week to mark the occasion.

Top Plays:

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.

Bottom Plays:

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

On Aug 26th I posted projections for the season, it’s now time to pay the piper and see how they PAN‘d out.

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.

First Team

QB

Russell Wilson, Wisconsin +13/+3.4

RB

Montee Ball, Wisconsin +5/+1.2 & Marcus Coker, Iowa +1/+0.7

TE

Drake Dunsmore, Northwestern +3/+0.8

WR

Jeremy Ebert, Northwestern +8/+2.1 & Marvin McNutt, Iowa +7/+1.3 & AJ Jenkins, Illinois +7/+1.3

DE

Broderick Binns, Iowa 47/32 & Whitney Mercilus, Illinois 35/36

DT

Devon Still, Penn St 45/28 & Johnathan Hankins, Ohio 50/21

LB

Jonathan Brown, Illinois 75/41 & Lavonte David, Nebraska 59/29 & Gerald Hodges, Penn St 52/28

CB

Josh Johnson, Purdue 33/21 & Bradley Roby, Ohio 21/27

Safety

Brian Peters, Northwestern 32/28 & Drew Astorino, Penn St 34/18

K

Dan Conroy, Michigan St +12.4

P

Ben Buchanan, Ohio +10

Second Team

QB

Denard Robinson, Michigan +7/+3.5

RB

Fitzgerald Toussaint, Michigan +1/+.4 & Rex Burkhead, Nebraska +0/+.3

TE

Jacob Pedersen, Wisconsin +2/+0.3

WR

BJ Cunningham, Michigan St +7/+1.1 & Nick Toon, Wisconsin +6/+1.0 & Da’Jon McKnight, Minnesota +4/+0.8

DE

John Simon, Ohio 40/25 & Michael Buchanan, Illinois 38/18

DT

Mike Daniels, Iowa 40/22 & Akeem Spence, Illinois 40/18

LB

David Nwabuisi, Northwestern 51/21 & Ian Thomas, Illinois 47/20 & Will Compton, Nebraska 49/18

CB

Tavon Wilson, Illinois 28/17 & Ibraheim Campbell, Northwestern 25/17

Safety

Jordan Kovacs, Michigan 17/27 & CJ Barnett, Ohio 25/18

K

Brett Maher, Nebraska +11.8

P

Cody Webster, Purdue +8

Ryan van Bergen, Mike Martin and Kenny Demens all narrowly missed spots on the second team defense.

Upcoming Schedule

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.

Mid-Week Metrics Indoctrinates

Mid-Week Metrics Indoctrinates

Submitted by The Mathlete on November 24th, 2011 at 9:02 AM

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Top Plays

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

Bottom Plays

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.

Top RB:

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.

Top WR:

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.

Top DL:

1. Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma

2. Whitney Mercilus, Illinois

3. Devon Still, Penn St

Top LB:

1. AJ Johnson, Tennessee

2. Danny Trevathan, Kentucky

3. Johnathan Brown, Illinois

Top DB:

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)

Rush Offense

Michigan: +4, 10th (Georgia Tech), 2nd (Wisconsin)

vs Ohio D: +1, 38th, 6th

Pass Offense

Michigan: +2, 41st (Boise St), 5th (Wisconsin)

vs Ohio D: +4, 15th, 3rd

Rush Defense

Michigan: +2, 25th (Alabama), 4th (Illinois)

vs Ohio O: +1, 34th, 4th

Pass Defense

Michigan: +2, 36th (Oklahoma St), 6th (Penn St)

vs Ohio O: –4, 109th, 12th

Special Teams

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

Mid-Week Metrics Retreats to a Cabin in the Woods

Mid-Week Metrics Retreats to a Cabin in the Woods

Submitted by The Mathlete on November 3rd, 2011 at 3:12 PM

Kick it off like we always do…

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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.

Game Recap

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

Grades are in PAN (pts/game) and opponent adjusted.

Rush Offense: +3

Fitz: +7

Vincent Smith: +1

Denard: -7

Pass Offense: +5

Denard: +7

Devin: -1

Rush Defense: +2

Pass Defense: +0

Special Teams: +1 (best of the year)

Heisman Tracking

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.

Game Odds

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

3. LSU

4. Alabama

5. Stanford

B1G Ten

9. Nebraska

12. Michigan

13. Wisconsin

15. Michigan St

19. Penn St

38. Purdue

42. Ohio

47. Illinois

73. Northwestern

88. Iowa

104. Minnesota

113. Indiana

Iowa Preview

PAN, National Rank (leader), B1G Rank (leader)

Rush Offense

Michigan: +5, 3rd (Georgia Tech), 1st

Iowa: +1, 53rd, 7th

Pass Offense

Michigan: +2, 32nd (Boise), 4th (Wisconsin)

Iowa: –6, 118th, 11th

Rush Defense

Michigan: +2, 25th (LSU), 5th (Michigan St)

Iowa: +3, 18th, 3rd

Pass Defense

Michigan: +1, 43rd (Oklahoma St), 7th (Michigan St)

Iowa: +3, 23rd, 2nd

Special Teams

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.