Relevant Big Ten Teams vs. Ranked Road Opponents since 2007

Submitted by ScooterTooter on September 5th, 2018 at 12:09 AM

To follow-up on my hit post below, I wanted to present a little more info that shows how rare a major win over a ranked opponent truly is for most teams. I looked at our main rivals in chasing Ohio State (as they were going to be the obvious outlier) to see how they had fared since 2007 against teams that finished the season ranked. 

Michigan State: 2-11

Michigan State's two wins both came in 2015. One, as we all know, came after one of the luckiest plays in college football history went their way against Michigan. The other was against Ohio State when Urban Meyer decided that Ezekiel Elliot was good at football for a night. 

Penn State: 3-15

Had one truly impressive road win: 2008 against a good Ohio State team 13-6. They beat Northwestern in 2017 and surprised Wisconsin in 2013. 

Wisconsin: 0-12

Wisconsin has not beaten a single team that finished the season ranked on the road since 2007. 

This is something that just does not happen very often for most teams. These are three very successful programs and between them they have two elite wins on the road (2008 Penn State vs. Ohio State and 2015 Michigan State vs. Ohio State) as the others were either the result of absolute craziness or were against good, not elite teams. 



September 5th, 2018 at 12:44 PM ^

B-b-b-but the media needs statistics that back up their desired narrative!!

Now wait for it... Pete penis-head or some such will read this post, and all of a sudden we'll be inundated with "Michigan, Wisconsin, MSU, and Penn State are a combined 5-54 on the road vs ranked opponents since 2007"

Oh the irony of an SEC supporter saying "Outside of [OSU], the [B1G] is vastly overrated!"--we all know which school and conference actually belong in that sentence.


September 5th, 2018 at 12:12 AM ^

Good data. Why the hell are we scheduling ND as a night game when we may have arguably the best team with Harbaugh in 2018? I mean come on...shooting in the foot permeates to the whole AD? 

Sigh. Just play tomato cans till conference schedule starts !


September 5th, 2018 at 9:29 AM ^

If nothing else, why are we scheduling ND as the first game of the season?  Watching us struggle last Saturday reminded me why Michigan got away from kicking off their season with the Irish in favor of 1-2 tune-up games before the big one. 

There's not guarantee that would've made a difference, but I can't help but feel things might have gone smoother for us had we been playing ND in South Bend, at night, on September 15th.

Alas, it's in the past now.  Bring on Western, let's work on improving.


September 5th, 2018 at 11:25 AM ^

What's the difference?  It works both ways you know, ND had to play us too.  I'm sick of this excuse for first game of the season.  It's not like we opened up at Alabama or Clemson.  We lost that excuse in 2007 and just need to STFU about it.  We sound like pansy whiners.

And yes, to be fair I do criticize all other big programs playing Austin Peay, Nicholls State, and Furman in the first week.  


September 6th, 2018 at 12:29 AM ^

What's wrong with you? If we just replicated our effort vs utah state or app state we would win both games. National media is on Michigan's balls and ignoring the putrid efforts of msu and psu cuz... Harbaugh 

Whatever. It's always Michigan needs to prove this or that . How about media STFU. Rob parker STFU. 

This board is going crazy on LT etc. Just watch what happens this Saturday. Michigan bombs WMU. So then ... put shea in Heisman consideration ala Haskins throwing on the worst D1 team in Oregon state? Give me a break. 

Play easy games to work out kinks. 

Newton Gimmick

September 5th, 2018 at 11:38 AM ^

I totally agree.  There is no benefit to playing in South Bend.  It's always a bizarre, flag-infested, weird-turnover and broken-play shitshow that almost always goes in their favor.  And then if we win, the narrative is usually, "well, Notre Dame stinks."  And they often do.

No, I'd rather struggle with Utah State but be 1-0, which everyone will forget in a month.  Even in the new playoff system, teams are not rewarded for scheduling these games.  Like always, they are just rewarded for not-losing.


September 5th, 2018 at 12:14 AM ^

confused by your metrics....Since the start of the 2013 season, the Spartans are 10-4 in games against ranked opponents.  How many teams in the big 10 finish the season ranked?  3-4?  This is a silly stat.  


September 5th, 2018 at 7:44 AM ^

As the poster below said, this is just for teams that finished the year ranked. Michigan State has 2 such wins over the time period. 

The reason that using a ranked at the time metric is dumb can be explained by the following examples:

2016 Michigan State over Notre Dame

2016 Wisconsin over Michigan State

If we measured the way the media does, Michigan State and Wisconsin get credit for beating "ranked" teams that finished 4-8 and 3-9. 

This way is a far better way to measure the quality of opponent. 


September 5th, 2018 at 2:48 PM ^


You are confused because you are wrong. In 2017 MSU lost to 3 ranked opponents: Notre Dame (at home at night by 20pts), Northwestern, and Ohio State. 

In 2016 MSU lost to 4 ranked opponents: Ohio St, Michigan, Penn St., and Wisconsin. 

I will spell it out for you since you butchered the OP’s explanation so badly: that is 7 losses against ranked opponents in the last two seasons that I can come up with off hand. So since 2013 the MSU record against ranked opponents is definitely not 10-4. If you took a moment to think about it, over 5 seasons MSU would have certainly played more than 14 ranked opponents if they lost to 7 in just 2 seasons. I’m not calling you stupid I’m just saying you didn’t comprehend the initial post and failed to use any critical thinking ability when responding. 


September 5th, 2018 at 12:47 AM ^

Are ALL these numbers against teams that finished ranked? Those numbers may be more meaningful but you really need to clarify that shit when every single other place you’re going to see “ranked wins” is referring to rankings when the game was played. 


September 5th, 2018 at 7:30 AM ^

That's the most quoted stat so I went through and did that research (since 2007)...


Record: 5-10

Wins: 2010 @ Michigan, 2015 @ Michigan, 2015 @ Ohio St., 2016 @ Notre Dame, 2017 @ Michigan


Record: 3-14

Wins: 2012 @ MSU, 2012 @ Oklahoma, 2015 @ Temple


Record: 14-4


Record: 2-11

Wins: 2008 @ Ohio St., 2013 @ Wisconsin


Record: 3-8

Wins: 2008 @ Fresno St., 2010 @ Iowa, 2016 @ MSU


September 5th, 2018 at 7:48 AM ^

And this is dumb (not you, just the way people talk about it). Why should Michigan State get credit for beating a 7-6 Michigan team in 2010 or a 4-8 Notre Dame team in 2016?

Why should Wisconsin get credit for beating "ranked" 3-9 Michigan State on the road in 2016? Why doesn't Michigan? They beat the same team. 


September 5th, 2018 at 8:54 AM ^

Pressure, better gauge of perceived  ability of team at the time of playing, and less dependence on factors outside of the match-up context...  For example injuries, momentum, and development/emergence of players can have an effect on the final season ranking but not be related to your game at all. Both the end rankings and the midseason rankings are subjective anyway....  


September 5th, 2018 at 9:34 AM ^

I'll play devil's advocate by splitting a very fine hair.  There could be instances where one plays a ranked team on the road and in the week's that follow that team's fortunes take a serious turn due to injuries or other extenuating circumstances.

That said, I think basic premise that Scooter is promoting is pretty sound.



September 5th, 2018 at 11:52 AM ^

It makes a little more sense than you're giving it credit for. Winning a game gives your team momentum and elevates play in future games. Losing a game does the opposite. Also, if a team loses, it directly affects that team's ranking. Teams may also be playing better at a certain part of the season when they are ranked, and then have injuries later that cause them to tank.

So I think that using both data points are useful...


September 5th, 2018 at 12:55 PM ^

Gotta disagree. If a team remains ranked till the end of the year that means they were successful enough to be one of the top 25 teams despite losing to you. 

Using the "ranked at the time" metric generates all sorts of credit for beating .500 or worse teams on the road. 

There are exceptions as there are to anything, but this way of measuring this stat is vastly superior to one that gives a team credit for beating a 3-9 team. 


September 5th, 2018 at 1:43 AM ^

Thank you for posting this.  While it puts things in perspective, it also opens the question as to WHY it is so rare and difficult. 

I don't really watch other conferences, but it does seem like the level of "home cooking" in officiating BIG 10 games is a bit over the top.  Some have argued that it's just general incompetence that goes both ways, but stats like these may suggest there is more to it than that.


September 5th, 2018 at 7:54 AM ^

The point is more that winning these games is exceedingly rare unless you're Ohio State. These are all teams with multiple big ten titles over this span. 

Ohio State has had two of the best coaches in the country pretty much uninterrupted over this time span which has allowed them to recruit at the highest level possible every year. 

Michigan had a coach finishing his tenure with lackluster recruiting that helped create the 2008 situation which has snowballed ever since till you get the "0-17" narrative you hear so much about now. 

For reference, during the last two Hart-Henne-Long years Michigan beat three teams that finished ranked on the road: Notre Dame and Penn State in 06 and Illinois in 07. 

It also shows how much fortune and schedule lines up to win a team a title. Wisconsin won three titles without ever winning a road game against an elite team. Michigan State won two (and of course one while doing so). Penn State won one (and one while doing so). 

Michigan was very close to getting this opportunity twice with road wins: 2012 and 2016. Both years contained unfortunate circumstances, whether it was Denard's injury or Speight's injury + Officiating in Columbus. So they aren't far off the pace. 


September 5th, 2018 at 8:01 AM ^

Proper perspective or not, it's the current narrative.  In reality, who really cares?  I don't.  Like him or not, until he beats MSU on a regular year or until he beats an ohio state university, it's not going to matter.  Even if he starts beating MSU on a regular basis it won't matter because no one thinks MSU is a top tier program nationally.  We lost a nailbiter on a fluky ending against FSU in the orange bowl without 2 of our best players.  Does not matter.  Does anyone remember what Penn State's team looked like up until October 22, 2016?  I do and it wasn't pretty, especially the offensive line play.  They turned it around and suddenly James Franklin was the best thing since sliced bread, even though they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in the rose bowl.  Since that moment Penn State has been given the benefit of the doubt nationally.  I don't think the media will ever give credit to Harbaugh regardless of what happens.  Even in 2016 when the team was 9-0 and rolling, everyone called them a paper tiger due to the amount of home games.  Seems like unless you have some sort of SEC tie in your history, you can't coach and your team sucks.  IMO


September 5th, 2018 at 8:08 AM ^

Its fine if its the narrative for idiots but why does it have to be the narrative for reasonable people who don't want to wallow in the narrative of the idiots? 


Harbaugh won two of those games at Stanford: 2007 USC and 2009 USC. He did it in four years. He had more of those wins in four years than Wisconsin has since 2007. The same amount as Michigan State. One less than Penn State. 

But no, the reason Michigan loses on the road to ranked opponents now is because Harbaugh is a choker, not because its generally really hard to do and some pretty bad luck. 


September 5th, 2018 at 9:22 AM ^

And then you look at Harbaugh’s record in one score games at Michigan. 4-8. And pretty much every statistical analysis says that metric is largely based on chance and evens out to .500 over time.

There’s a lot to suggest he’s been more unlucky than mediocre. That said, they lost those games and you make your own luck to some extent. 

Jake Blues

September 5th, 2018 at 9:18 AM ^

"no one thinks MSU is a top tier program nationally"

Whatever makes you sleep at night. However, since Dantonio became coach in 2007, MSU has averaged slightly more than 9 wins per season, won 3 B1G championships, participated in 3 B1G championship games, won the Rose Bowl, won the Cotton Bowl, and appeared in a CFP semifinal. Sounds pretty "top tier" to me.


September 5th, 2018 at 10:03 AM ^

I am not disagreeing with anything you said in your references to average wins or the big games they have won or played in.  All very good points you made.  It's not about sleeping at night or justification and I was not attempting to cast shade on them.  It's a perception issue.  We as big ten fans look differently at MSU than the national media does.  As much as I hate him and his "disrespect" mantra, Dantonio is a great coach and the team he coaches has been one of the best in the big ten for quite some time so it is far from an anomaly.  They say MSU is a great program in relation to the big ten but they don't look at them in the same light as they do ohio state when it comes to the top tier in all of college football.  Unfortunately when they didn't show up against Alabama in their playoff appearance, it detracted from what they had accomplished previously. 

Beilein 4 Life

September 5th, 2018 at 10:19 AM ^

That’s because you’re a Michigan fan (I assume). Nobody nationally cares about MSU. They had their chance and got beat by 40 in the playoffs. That’s all anyone cares about nationally. We think they are good because we know them well, sharing a border with them. Outside the state of Michigan, no one watches their games or cares about their outcomes unless they are playing their team

El Jeffe

September 5th, 2018 at 8:23 AM ^

If you're going to start bringing "data" and "facts" and "logic" and "analysis" to this board, then I don't know what I'm supposed to do with my carefully cultivated #hottake.