Race for the Roses 2011: Week 2


Last week's results:

  • Michigan State went into the Horseshoe and escaped with a 10-7 victory in a defensive slugfest. For Michigan State, inconsistency on offense remains the chief concern (somewhat mitigated here by a legitimately good Ohio State defense); between Ohio State's horrid offensive showing (again, mitigated by a good defense opposite, but their struggles were significantly worse) and the news that two of the remaining Tat 4 are out for at least another game, the chances of a bowl-less winter in Columbus just got a lot bigger.
  • Michigan mauled Minnesota 58-0. Minnesota remains an absolutely atrocious football team; the only news such a beating reveals about Michigan is a lack of bad news. I don't think they're quite as good as they've looked so far, but I don't think a collapse on the order of 2008/2009/2010 is likely either.
  • Penn State won at Indiana, 16-10, in a game nearly as ugly as ours offensively. Unfortunately for them, Indiana's defense is not ours or Ohio State's. Indiana games are much like Minnesota games in that the only news possible is bad news, and Penn State got a fair bit of it in having to settle for field goals so many times.
  • Illinois pulled a Houdini act to escape Northwestern, 38-35. I'm reminded irresistibly of Iowa 2009 and Michigan State 2010 in the way they are letting opponents hang around but ultimately pulling out the victory; the schedule sets up somewhat favorably with the Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio State games all at home and no game against Michigan State, Nebraska, or Iowa; Penn State will be their only real road test of the entire season. Northwestern, with both Dan Persa and RB Mike Trumpy injured, may have lost more than just a game (although Persa is expected to play against Michigan).
  • In the one big statement game of the week, Wisconsin walloped Nebraska 48-17. Taylor Martinez was not impressive throwing the ball; a team that can limit Nebraska's ground game will have a good chance to beat them. Wisconsin, on the other hand, staked its claim to a position as a national contender with that beatdown. Like Michigan and Illinois, however, Wisconsin has yet to play a true road game (Michigan and Illinois have not left their home stadiums at all; Wisconsin played Northern Illinois in Chicago).
  • Nonconference: Notre Dame laid a 38-10 smackdown on Purdue. The best that can be said of the Boilers at this point is that they're not as awful as Minnesota or Indiana (and they'll get a chance to prove it this week and at the end of the season).

This week's games and the standings tables after the jump.

Byes: Michigan State, Wisconsin

Game of the Week: Iowa @ Penn State
Slim pickings this week. There's no shame in Penn State's sole loss to Alabama (and not too much in Iowa's to Iowa State, at least so far this year, either) and both have a respectable win over a Pennsylvania school (Temple and Pittsburgh). Penn State is regarded slightly better by both systems; combine with home field and Penn State is a 67% favorite according to the no-margin ratings, 68% (5 pts) according to the margin-aware ratings. I expect a game that nearly rivals MSU-OSU for sheer ugliness.

Pillow Fight of the Week: Minnesota @ Purdue
If the Boilers still harbor any bowl hopes at all, this is one they'll desperately need. With a season-ender against Indiana and home games against middling Ohio State and Iowa, the six-win mark is not completely out of reach, but it doesn't look good at this point. The no-margin ratings give Purdue a 79% chance to win; margin-aware bumps that to 83% (10.5 pt favorites).

Other Big Ten Games
Illinois @ Indiana: Illinois 90% favorite no-margin, 79% (9 pts) margin-aware
Michigan @ Northwestern: Michigan 79% favorite no-margin, 81% (10 pts) margin-aware
Ohio State @ Nebraska: Nebraska 78% favorite no-margin, 79% (9 pts) margin-aware

Projected Standings: No-Margin System

West-ish Division

Team Rank Avg wins 8-0 7-1 6-2 5-3 4-4 3-5 2-6 1-7 0-8 Bowl Outright Share
Michigan 5 5.99 8.06% 26.35% 33.70% 22.08% 8.03% 1.62% 0.17% 1 in 14,700 N/A >99.99% 42.97% 66.80%
Michigan St 34 5.07 1.42% 9.49% 25.00% 32.94% 22.56% 7.52% 1.01% 0.05% N/A 98.93% 13.96% 31.60%
Nebraska 17 4.60 N/A 3.65% 18.25% 32.94% 28.46% 13.05% 3.23% 0.40% 0.02% 99.58% 6.65% 19.53%
Iowa 43 4.43 0.47% 4.22% 15.18% 28.16% 28.99% 16.79% 5.31% 0.84% 0.05% 93.81% 6.43% 17.72%
Northwestern 78 2.88 N/A 0.08% 1.20% 6.99% 20.71% 32.91% 27.00% 9.91% 1.20% 48.33% 0.40% 2.20%
Minnesota 116 0.99 N/A 1 in 1.33M 1 in 27,300 0.07% 0.82% 5.30% 19.84% 40.13% 33.83% 0.08% * 0.02%

 

Nebraska's big loss at Wisconsin, our win at Ohio State, and the relative strength of Nebraska's cross-division schedule (even considering that they've already gotten the Wisconsin game out of the way) boost us into a projected second-place finish, with the in-state rivalry game looming large. Michigan has the inside track, but any of the top four still have a fighting chance.

Pseudo-East Division

Team Rank Avg wins 8-0 7-1 6-2 5-3 4-4 3-5 2-6 1-7 0-8 Bowl Outright Share
Illinois 8 6.17 10.37% 29.91% 33.83% 19.12% 5.76% 0.92% 0.07% 1 in 43,800 N/A >99.99% 34.96% 59.15%
Wisconsin 13 5.98 6.94% 25.96% 35.33% 22.85% 7.55% 1.26% 0.10% 1 in 34,200 N/A >99.99% 26.73% 49.90%
Penn State 25 5.04 1.66% 10.07% 24.46% 30.91% 22.02% 8.86% 1.86% 0.16% N/A 97.98% 8.98% 22.98%
Purdue 85 2.97 1 in 15,600 0.16% 1.60% 8.08% 22.06% 32.61% 25.17% 9.14% 1.16% 31.90% 0.26% 1.45%
Ohio State 64 2.54 N/A 0.03% 0.51% 3.87% 14.90% 30.53% 32.36% 15.56% 2.23% 49.84% 0.09% 0.69%
Indiana 111 1.35 N/A 1 in 339k 0.01% 0.22% 2.03% 10.17% 28.02% 38.74% 20.81% 0.23% * 0.01%

 

Wisconsin's win over Nebraska closes the gap in quality of wins with Illinois, but Illinois's resume to date remains slightly more impressive (without considering the difference between Illinois's repeated narrow escapes and Wisconsin's demolition jobs). Penn State remains in the hunt, and who would have thought that Ohio State would travel to West Lafayette in November with bowl eligibility potentially on the line for both teams?

Projected Standings: Margin-Aware System

West-ish Division

Team Rank Avg wins 8-0 7-1 6-2 5-3 4-4 3-5 2-6 1-7 0-8 Bowl Outright Share
Michigan 6 6.52 17.76% 36.21% 29.86% 12.76% 3.01% 0.38% 0.02% 1 in 196k N/A >99.99% 60.62% 81.73%
Michigan St 33 4.75 0.58% 5.31% 18.93% 33.19% 29.17% 11.44% 1.35% 0.04% N/A 98.62% 6.02% 17.40%
Nebraska 14 4.62 N/A 2.78% 18.28% 35.06% 28.91% 12.04% 2.63% 0.28% 0.01% 99.70% 4.10% 14.01%
Iowa 41 4.52 0.46% 4.38% 16.33% 30.00% 28.98% 15.10% 4.17% 0.56% 0.03% 95.25% 5.00% 14.95%
Northwestern 61 3.06 N/A 0.10% 1.53% 8.67% 23.91% 33.92% 24.03% 7.29% 0.55% 63.28% 0.33% 1.91%
Minnesota 116 0.72 N/A 1 in 19.6M 1 in 238k 0.01% 0.24% 2.32% 12.92% 38.16% 46.35% 0.01% * *

 

Michigan appears to be more of a standout here thanks to blowing everybody out and having Illinois (who the margin-aware ratings are not impressed with at all) on the schedule rather than Wisconsin. The fight for second looks like a three-way free-for-all, with us having a slight edge due to having one win in the bank already. The big jump in Northwestern's bowl chances is in large part because of their remaining non-conference game with Rice; the margin-aware system projects them as 85% to win instead of 58%.

Pseudo-East Division

Team Rank Avg wins 8-0 7-1 6-2 5-3 4-4 3-5 2-6 1-7 0-8 Bowl Outright Share
Wisconsin 5 6.95 30.01% 41.87% 21.99% 5.44% 0.66% 0.04% 1 in 102k 1 in 10.5M N/A >99.99% 69.38% 87.52%
Illinois 25 5.21 1.67% 11.07% 27.84% 33.14% 19.54% 5.86% 0.85% 0.05% N/A 99.95% 7.34% 19.98%
Penn State 29 4.89 0.74% 7.59% 22.83% 32.28% 24.41% 9.98% 2.01% 0.15% N/A 97.83% 4.07% 13.34%
Ohio State 51 2.68 N/A 0.02% 0.54% 4.41% 17.09% 33.29% 30.98% 12.27% 1.40% 55.35% 0.07% 0.51%
Purdue 86 2.54 1 in 298k 0.02% 0.42% 3.66% 14.89% 30.90% 32.59% 15.46% 2.06% 18.99% 0.03% 0.28%
Indiana 99 1.54 N/A 1 in 430k 0.01% 0.30% 2.76% 13.26% 32.47% 36.66% 14.54% 0.31% * 0.01%

 

Factor in margin of victory, and suddenly Wisconsin (five blowout wins) leaps over Illinois (two blowouts and three very narrow escapes). The larger gap in the ratings is enough to keep Ohio State ahead of Purdue despite having a loss on the books and a tougher cross-division schedule.

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