Why Wisconsin will probably win the West Division

Submitted by blueblue on October 21st, 2016 at 5:21 PM

I’d much rather face Nebraska than Wisconsin if we manage to beat Ohio State and make it to the Big Ten Championship Game. S&P+ gives Nebraska a mode of 7 wins and Wisconsin a mode of 6, but damn the statistics it still looks to me like we’re going to have to play Wisconsin again.

To get Nebraska instead of Wisconsin in the championship game:

A. If Nebraska wins the head-to-head on Oct 29, they’ve won the West (unless they lose all four remaining games—@Ohio State, Maryland, Minnesota, @Iowa—and Wisconsin wins out). But S&P+ only gives Nebraska a 33.6% chance of beating Wisconsin.

B. If Wisconsin wins the head-to-head and all its other games, Nebraska has to win out—including Ohio State on Oct 29. Wisconsin is a 2:1 favorite or better in each of its remaining games; Nebraska only has a 14.3% chance of beating Ohio State and only a 1.5% chance of winning out.

C. If Wisconsin wins the head-to-head and Nebraska loses to Ohio State, then Wisconsin would have to lose at least one more game. The greatest chance is Oct 22 @Iowa (34.5% chance of losing), next greatest vs. Minnesota Nov 26 (24.1% chance).

Looks to me like the most likely thing is that Wisconsin wins the head-to-head on Oct 29 pretty easily and wins out, Nebraska loses to both Wisconsin and Ohio State, and Wisconsin goes to the championship game for a rematch with either Michigan or Ohio State.


Ohio State needs to lose 2 of these to make the Game irrelevant in determining the Big Ten Champion:

@Penn State 10/22 (25.6%), Northwestern 10/29 (3.5%), Nebraska 11/05 (14.3%), @Maryland 11/12 (7.7%), @MSU 11/19 (4.8%)



October 21st, 2016 at 5:29 PM ^

I think you're right, but that's a lot of parsing for what seems to be a logical progression based on some pretty easy assumptions.

It's reasonable to believe that Wisconsin is close to or definitely a top ten team based on what they've done this year, and simply lost close games to two better teams. If so, it is not a stretch at all to think that they're the best team in the division.

It's reasonable to think that Nebraska is not a top ten team, and that they will lose to Ohio State. And, thus, probable that they will lose to Wisconsin in what appears to be a de facto division title game.

There are some possible exceptions here, obviously. Iowa doesn't look very good but they could pull an upset, and perhaps Minnesota plays the game of its life and beats Wisconsin for the first time since 2003. Not likely, though.

Nice job with the numbers.


October 21st, 2016 at 5:35 PM ^

That's entirely too simplified. Last year MSU was not the best team in the East and probably wasn't even 2nd best yet they won the division and the conference. Weird things happen in football. Given tiebreakers the game against Nebraska is the absolute biggest game left on Wisconsin's schedule. When a schedule comes down to a single game there's a lot of things that can screw up what should normally be a gimmie. 

Mr. Yost

October 22nd, 2016 at 6:20 AM ^

But with no bad weather OR a crazy 8p night game in Madison?

Michigan wins going away. Especially in a rematch, because our offense/defense are forever changing week to week.

I think the OP is freaking out about something that can't be taken lightly, but isn't that big of a deal.

Oh yea, WD says "Beat Illinois."


October 21st, 2016 at 5:57 PM ^

Nebraska is going to lose to Ohio State.  So the Nebraska-Wiscy game is for all the marbles.

If Nebraska wins, Wiscy will have 3 B1G losses and will be out.  If Wiscy wins, they and Nebraska will both have 2 losses.  But Wiscy will win the head to head tie-breaker.

This is all very good for the Big Ten West which people have been very down on.  It's an exciting, competitive season for the B1g West with a nationally relevant big game coming up.  And the B1G West representative has shown that it can play toe to toe with the B1G East winner last year, and this year if it is Wiscy.

If we win the Big Ten East, I don't look forward to playing Wisconsin again.  I think we will win, but it will be a fight, not a coronation.



October 22nd, 2016 at 1:31 AM ^

I want Wisconsin to win the West and not Nebraska. 


Realistically, The Game will be a 50-50 tossup sort of deal; if we lose, I WILL BE DAMNED if a Nebraska team that didn't have to play us steals our Rose Bowl slot. 


11-1 Michigan is a shoe-in for the Rose Bowl if we miss the playoff AND Wisconsin wins the West but loses to OSU in Indy. However, a 12-1 Nebraska, or even potentially an 11-2 Nebraska could steal a Rose Bowl from us. That would suck. 


October 22nd, 2016 at 9:07 AM ^

This ^^^^

Denver is overrun (in general now) by Nebraska fans and they're all talking Rose Bowl right now and speculating that if they lose, it will be to OSU who in turn will beat Michigan and go to the playoff. NU - even throttled a second time by OSU in a BTCC - goes to Pasadena and we go somewhere in Florida.

That would suck


October 21st, 2016 at 7:30 PM ^

Would be an interesting case study in "Does the committee truly care about SOS?" because Wisconsin, being 11-2, would have this on their resume:

Wins over #5 LSU, #8ish Nebraska, and #2 or 3 M/OSU
Losses by 7 to #4 Michigan and #2 OSU

They would easily have the best resume of any 2-loss team in recent memory. Meanwhile, UW had an atrocious non-conference and didn't play anyone particularly good in conference. Wisconsin would also have to compete with the theoretical #3-4 M/OSU they just beat because they'd only be 1-1 vs them.


October 21st, 2016 at 5:39 PM ^

Series is basically tied between the two schools and Wisconsin will feel the stretch of having to play MSU, Michigan, and OSU in consecutive weeks. Iowa has clearly been struggling but this is a huge opportunity for them and they know it. Couple that with the fact the game is in IC? Classic upset at Kinnick.


October 21st, 2016 at 6:15 PM ^

I agree with you. Wisky on upset alert. They have played LSU, Sparty, Michigan, OSU in a months time frame. Last weekend vs OSU they played the best game possible and still lost. It will be hard to repeat that kind of intensity tomorrow in Iowa City. Iowa is starting to rebound from a disappointing start. Captain Kurt will win this game in ugly fashion 13-10.

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October 21st, 2016 at 8:36 PM ^

Wisconsin is missing their nose tackle for this game. Huge loss for them as the drop-off is pretty steep. It's one thing to be battle tested, but idk man. I think Iowa will somehow seize this opportunity and play themselves back into the conversation of the West. Strange things happen in Kinnick.

Hand Pointer

October 21st, 2016 at 5:51 PM ^

We have beat wisco already why would we not want to play them again? We know how to plan for them, and know that our defense can suffocate their offense, and coming off an osu win I think our o would would def be able to get it done.

Ball Hawk

October 21st, 2016 at 6:00 PM ^

Because they are still a good team and the game could go either way. Also they had a couple of injuries that made a huge impact on there team especially their linebacker.
It's possible that they get their huys back by the big ten championship. I think their kicker was hurt also which is a huge crushing blow for points during close games.


October 21st, 2016 at 6:59 PM ^

Meh - they would be tougher than Nebraska but our game with them was not nearly as close as the score. If we had hit a few of those FGs, UW would have had to abandon the run and it would have spiraled.

I think both our offense and defense (more packages and more reps) will be better at that time.! I expect the UW Offense can/will improve but think the defense is about at its ceiling - Biegel or not.

Wisconsin Wolverine

October 21st, 2016 at 6:04 PM ^

I worked out these scenarios right when the UM-UW game finished, because technically I'm a Badger so I feel somewhat obligated to hope for the best for them (as long as it doesn't involve ruining Michigan's day).  I was happy when I realized Wisconsin still has a very real shot at going to the Big Ten championship game, but then I realized Michigan would have to play them again if we do take the East, and thinking about what a damn heart attack the first Weasel Bowl was, I just dread Weasel Bowl II.  So ... whatever.