Race for the Roses 2011: Week 8

Last week's results:

  • Michigan State 37, Iowa 21: An early onslaught put this one out of reach early, as the lead was 31-7 at halftime. Iowa's not out of it yet, but the odds are not good at all. On the other hand, MSU now just has to beat two of the four teams that are not yet bowl eligible to claim a division title.
  • Nebraska 17, Penn State 14: A closing stretch that looked plenty brutal before turmoil enveloped the Penn State program got off to a bad start on the field too. Nebraska led 17-0 midway through the third before a Penn State rally fell short. This result keeps both division races well in play; had Penn State won along with MSU, both teams would have had an opportunity to clinch next week without any further help.
  • Purdue 26, Ohio State 23 (OT): The Buckeyes looked to be about to escape with a last minute touchdown catch by Jordan Hall, but Purdue blocked the PAT to leave the game tied at 20. Ohio State was held to a field goal in OT, and Robert Marve snuck into the endzone for the win for Purdue. The Buckeyes remain alive for the title, but a nasty closing stretch and needing help makes it very unlikely. On the other hand, Purdue just needs one more win to reach bowl eligibility.
  • Michigan 31, Illinois 14: This game was something of a turnover-fest (three by each team). Michigan was already up 17-0 before Illinois crossed midfield, and it never got closer than 10 from there. Michigan remains alive in the West, but their chances of getting the help they need have dropped.
  • Wisconsin 42, Minnesota 13: Paul Bunyan's Axe will not be joining Floyd of Rosedale in the Minnesota trophy case this year. Montee Ball set a Big Ten record with his 27th touchdown of the year, and Russell Wilson went 16 of 17 passing on the day.
  • Northwestern 28, Rice 6 (non-conference): Dan Persa threw for 372 yards (almost 50% more than all of Rice's total offense, rushing and passing) and the Owls never really threatened, breaking the shutout only in the final five minutes. Like Purdue, the Wildcats need only one more win to reach bowl eligibility.

After the jump: Summary tables and the division race breakdowns.

West Division

No-Margin Summary

Team Wins 8-0 7-1 6-2 5-3 4-4 3-5 2-6 1-7 0-8 Bowl Title
Michigan State 6.64 N 65.48% 33.35% 1.17% N N N N N Y 88.29%
Nebraska 5.21 N N 31.69% 57.46% 10.85% N N N N Y 11.06%
Michigan 5.40 N N 48.48% 43.36% 8.16% N N N N Y 0.63%
Iowa 3.60 N N N 7.43% 44.90% 47.67% N N N Y 0.03%
Northwestern 3.15 N N N N 26.65% 61.93% 11.41% N N 88.59% N
Minnesota 1.45 N N N N N 4.71% 35.41% 59.89% N N N

 

Margin-Aware Summary

Team Wins 8-0 7-1 6-2 5-3 4-4 3-5 2-6 1-7 0-8 Bowl Title
Michigan State 6.63 N 63.58% 35.67% 0.75% N N N N N Y 91.02%
Nebraska 5.13 N N 23.11% 66.61% 10.28% N N N N Y 8.47%
Michigan 5.59 N N 62.58% 33.55% 3.87% N N N N Y 0.50%
Iowa 3.64 N N N 7.05% 50.07% 42.88% N N N Y 0.01%
Northwestern 3.28 N N N N 32.41% 62.73% 4.86% N N 95.14% N
Minnesota 1.27 N N N N N 1.48% 24.30% 74.22% N N N

 

Michigan State

Record: 8-2 (5-1 in conference)
Ranking: 16th (+5 from last week) no-margin, 21st (+8) margin-aware
Division record: 3-1 (wins over Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa; loss to Nebraska)
Remaining games:

Opponent No-Margin Prob Margin-Aware Prob Avg Margin
Indiana 96.3%
97.9% +26
@Northwestern 68.0%
65.0% +4

Distribution of possible records:

  7-1 6-2 5-3
No-margin 65.48% 33.35% 1.17%
Margin-aware 63.58% 35.67% 0.75%

A big win in the toughest game left on the schedule shifts the odds strongly in our favor.

How we can win the division:

  • Win both games (65.48% no-margin / 63.58% margin-aware). This gives us the outright title.
  • Win one game + Nebraska loses a game (22.78% / 27.43%). In this case we would, at worst, be tied with Michigan.
  • Lose twice + Nebraska loses twice + Michigan loses to Ohio State (0.03% / 0.01%). We cannot win any tie with Nebraska (except the BCS scenario described below), so we need two losses from them, but we hold the tiebreaker over both Michigan and Iowa. This would leave us tied with Michigan and possibly Iowa.
  • Lose twice + Nebraska loses to Iowa but beats Michigan + Iowa beats Purdue + Minnesota wins twice + BCS standings (0.002% / 0.0002%). Michigan, if involved in the tie, drops out on head-to-head; MSU, Iowa, and Nebraska are tied in head-to-head, division record, record against division opponents down the standings (everyone beat Michigan; Minnesota and Northwestern finish tied at 3-5 and everyone split those two), and common cross-division opponents (none), so the BCS decides it. MSU would have to be the highest ranked team and at least two spots ahead of Nebraska, or the second-highest and only one spot behind Iowa.

Probability of winning the division: 88.29% no-margin / 91.02% margin-aware, plus the minuscule chance of a BCS tiebreaker scenario. The biggest hurdles are already past; all we have to do is win two games that we should win. Even if we lose one, there's not much help necessary.
Clinch this week if: we win and Nebraska loses to Michigan.

Nebraska

Record: 8-2 (4-2)
Ranking: 17th (+9), 17th (+1)
Division record: 2-1 (wins over Michigan State, Minnesota; loss to Northwestern)
Remaining games:

Opponent No-Margin Prob Margin-Aware Prob Avg Margin
@Michigan 38.5%
26.9% -7
Iowa 82.4%
85.9% +12.5

Distribution of possible records:

  6-2 5-3 4-4
No-margin 31.69% 57.46%
10.85%
Margin-aware 23.11%
66.61%
10.28%

The Huskers have passed the first of two major road tests down the stretch; next up is a chance to eliminate Michigan from the division race (Nebraska can survive a loss, but not without massive chaos; Michigan cannot).

How they can win the division:

  • Win twice + MSU loses a game (10.94% / 8.42%). Nebraska would own the tiebreaker on head-to-head.
  • Beat Iowa + MSU loses both games + Michigan loses to Ohio State + either Iowa beats Purdue or Minnesota beats Northwestern (0.07% / 0.04%). The three-way tie between MSU, Michigan, and Nebraska would be tied on head-to-head and division record, so the record against the next team or group of teams is decisive. If Iowa finishes ahead of Northwestern (by beating Purdue and Northwestern losing to Minnesota), Michigan drops out of the tie for losing to Iowa and Nebraska holds head-to-head over MSU. If they finish even (with only one of those last two results occurring), it goes to record against common opponents from the other division; Michigan lost to Ohio State but Nebraska and MSU beat them, so Michigan drops out again.
  • Beat Michigan + MSU loses twice + Iowa loses to Purdue (0.05% / 0.01%). Head-to-head sweep of the Michigan schools decides it.
  • Beat Michigan + MSU loses twice + Iowa beats Purdue + Minnesota wins twice + BCS standings. See MSU section for details; Nebraska would have to be the top-ranked team and two spots ahead of Iowa, or second-ranked and one spot behind MSU.

Probability of winning the division: 11.06% / 8.47%, plus the very-unlikely BCS tiebreaker scenario. Did their job this week, but the best chance they had of getting the help they needed went by the wayside.
Eliminated this week if: they lose and MSU wins, or they lose and Northwestern and Purdue both win.

Iowa

Record: 6-4 (3-3)
Rating: 60th (-9), 49th (-8)
Division record: 2-2 (wins over Northwestern, Michigan; losses to Minnesota, Michigan State)
Remaining games:

Opponent No-Margin Prob Margin-Aware Prob Avg Margin
@Purdue
42.1%
50.1% 0
@Nebraska
17.6%
14.1% -12.5

Distribution of possible records:

  5-3 4-4 3-5
No-margin 7.43%
44.90%
47.67%
Margin-aware 7.05%
50.07%
42.88%

Iowa went from controlling their own destiny to needing an absolute miracle.

How they can win the division:

  • Win twice + MSU loses twice + Nebraska beats Michigan + Minnesota loses at least one game (0.03% / 0.01%). This results in the MSU-Nebraska-Iowa three-way tie that can get as far as the BCS standings, but with Northwestern having a better record than Minnesota, Iowa (by virtue of being the only team among those tied to beat Northwestern) wins the tie before it gets that far. Nebraska must be involved in the tie or MSU wins directly on head-to-head.
  • Win twice + MSU loses twice + Nebraska beats Michigan + Minnesota wins twice + BCS standings. See MSU section for details; Iowa would have to be the top-ranked team and at least two spots ahead of MSU, or the second-ranked team and one spot behind Nebraska.

Probability of winning the division: 0.03% / 0.01%. They could not afford a slip-up against either of the contenders left on their schedule; getting one puts them in a very dire situation as far as reaching Indy goes.
Eliminated this week if: they lose, or MSU wins, or Michigan wins.

Michigan

Record: 8-2 (4-2)
Rating: 18th (+5), 10th (+2)
Division record: 2-2 (wins over Northwestern, Minnesota; losses to Michigan State, Iowa)
Remaining games:

Opponent No-Margin Prob Margin-Aware Prob Avg Margin
Nebraska 61.5%
73.1% +7
Ohio State 78.8%
85.6% +12

Distribution of possible records:

  6-2 5-3 4-4
No-margin 48.48% 43.36%
8.16%
Margin-aware 62.58%
33.55%
3.87%

Michigan has a good chance of getting to 10 wins, but with one of the losses coming to a team that's a game ahead of them with two relatively easy ones to play, they may have to be satisfied with a second-place finish in the division.

How they can win the division:

  • Win twice + MSU loses twice (0.57% / 0.47%). This gives them the outright title.
  • Beat Nebraska + Nebraska beats Iowa + MSU loses twice + Purdue beats Iowa + NW beats Minnesota (0.06% / 0.03%). This ends up a three-way tie between Nebraska, MSU, and Michigan with head-to-head and division record equal; if Northwestern finishes ahead of Iowa, Michigan would advance as the only team among the three to defeat Northwestern.

Probability of winning the division: 0.63% / 0.50%. Chances of getting the help they needed are very, very slim.
Eliminated this week if: they lose, or MSU wins.


Northwestern

Record: 5-5 (2-4)
Rating: 68th (+7), 61st (+5)
Remaining games:

Opponent No-Margin Prob Margin-Aware Prob Avg Margin
Minnesota
83.2%
92.5% +17
Michigan State
32.0%
35.0% -4

Distribution of possible records:

  4-4* 3-5* 2-6
No-margin 26.65% 61.93%
11.41%
Margin-aware 32.41%
62.73%
4.86%

* = bowl eligible

Have to like their shot at bowl eligibility now, needing only one win and hosting Minnesota.

Probability of bowl eligibility: 88.59% / 95.14%

Minnesota

Record: 2-8 (1-5)
Rating: 108th (no change), 111th (-1)
Remaining games:

Opponent No-Margin Prob Margin-Aware Prob Avg Margin
@Northwestern
16.8%
7.5% -17
Illinois
28.0%
19.8% -9.5

Distribution of possible records:

  3-5
2-6
1-7
No-margin 4.71%
35.41%
59.89%
Margin-aware 1.48%
24.30%
74.22%

To no one's surprise, Wisconsin slaughtered Minnesota; the effect on the ratings and probability in the remaining games is negligible.

East Division

No-Margin Summary

Team Wins 8-0 7-1 6-2 5-3 4-4 3-5 2-6 1-7 0-8 Bowl Title
Penn State 5.95
N 22.28%
50.89% 26.83% N N N N N Y 55.66%
Wisconsin 5.13 N N 31.98% 49.27% 18.75% N N N N Y 41.72%
Ohio State 3.66 N N N 9.59% 47.26% 43.15% N N N Y 2.62%
Purdue 4.32 N N N 43.10% 46.15% 10.76% N N N 89.24% N
Illinois 3.18 N N N N 33.17% 51.72% 15.11% N N Y N
Indiana 0.29 N N N N N N 0.93% 27.33% 71.74% N N

 

Margin-Aware Summary

Team Wins 8-0 7-1 6-2 5-3 4-4 3-5 2-6 1-7 0-8 Bowl Title
Wisconsin 5.62 N N 65.74% 30.93% 3.33% N N N N Y 75.96%
Penn State 5.54
N 5.73% 43.00% 51.26% N N N N N Y 22.29%
Ohio State 3.74 N N N 8.62% 56.97% 34.42% N N N Y 1.72%
Purdue 4.20 N N N 35.01% 50.04% 14.95% N N N 85.05% N
Illinois 3.04 N N N N 18.71% 66.12% 15.17% N N Y N
Indiana 0.32 N N N N N N 0.64% 30.69% 68.67% N N


Penn State

Record: 8-2 (5-1)
Ranking: 21st (-7), 27th (no change)
Division record: 3-0 (wins over Indiana, Illinois, Purdue)
Remaining games:

Opponent No-Margin Prob Margin-Aware Prob Avg Margin
@Ohio State 54.8%
40.2% -2.5
@Wisconsin 40.7%
14.3% -12.5

Distribution of possible records:

  7-1
6-2
5-3
No-margin 22.28% 50.89% 26.83%
Margin-aware 5.73% 43.00% 51.26%

I have less confidence in these numbers than I do most of the others; I don't think any computer system has a variable for "team just fired the man who has been their head coach since Vietnam amid the worst scandal in college football history".

How they can win the division:

  • Beat Wisconsin in the final week, regardless of what happens this weekend (40.68% / 14.26%). They would be the only team at 6-2.
  • Beat Ohio State + Wisconsin loses to Illinois (14.98% / 8.03%). Again, they would be alone at 6-2.

Probability of winning the division: 55.66% / 22.29%. The Nebraska game took away most of their margin for error, but Ohio State's loss gives extra hope should Penn State split their last two.
Clinch this week if: they win and Wisconsin loses.

Wisconsin

Record: 8-2 (4-2)
Ranking: 25th (+3), 8th (no change)
Division record: 2-1 (wins over Indiana, Purdue; loss to Ohio State)
Remaining games:

Opponent No-Margin Prob Margin-Aware Prob Avg Margin
@Illinois
53.9%
76.7% +8
Penn State 59.3%
85.7% +12.5

Distribution of possible records:

  6-2 5-3
4-4
No-margin 31.98% 49.27% 18.75%
Margin-aware 65.74% 30.93% 3.33%

The shifts in probability here are less because Wisconsin dump-trucked Minnesota (it's news when a good team doesn't) and more because both remaining opponents took a fall this weekend.

How they can win the division:

  • Win twice (31.98% / 65.74%). This gives them, at worst, a tie with Penn State and the head-to-head tiebreaker.
  • Beat Penn State + Ohio State beats Penn State + Ohio State loses to Michigan (9.74% / 10.22%). Three-way tie would be no good because OSU would hold the head-to-head sweep; even if Purdue joins in, Wisconsin and Ohio State would both be 2-1 and Ohio State would win the remaining two-team tie. This gets them to a two-way tie with Penn State (or possibly a three-way tie with PSU and Purdue), which they win.

Probability of winning the division: 41.72% / 75.96%. They got the help they needed to regain control of their own destiny.
Eliminated this week if: they lose and Penn State wins.

Ohio State

Record: 6-4 (3-3)
Ranking: 43rd (-7), 35th (-3)
Division record: 3-1 (wins over Indiana, Wisconsin, and Illinois; loss to Purdue)
Remaining games:

Opponent No-Margin Prob Margin-Aware Prob Avg Margin
Penn State
45.2%
59.8% +2.5
@Michigan
21.2%
14.4% -12

Distribution of possible records:

  5-3
4-4
3-5
No-margin 9.59% 47.26% 43.15%
Margin-aware 8.62% 56.97% 34.42%

Losing your easiest remaining game is a good way to knock yourself out of realistic title contention. Still mathematically alive, but they need a fair bit of help.

How they can win the division:

  • Win twice + Wisconsin loses to Illinois + Wisconsin beats Penn State (2.62% / 1.72%). This results in a three-way tie which Ohio State claims via head-to-head sweep. (If Purdue joins the tie, Wisconsin and OSU are both 2-1 in the tie, and OSU has the tiebreaker.)

Probability of winning the division: 2.62% / 1.72%. Fighting a serious uphill battle now.
Eliminated this week if: they lose, or Wisconsin wins.

Purdue

Record: 5-5 (3-3)
Rating: 69th (+9), 71st (+5)
Remaining games:

Opponent No-Margin Prob Margin-Aware Prob Avg Margin
Iowa
57.9%
49.9% 0
@Indiana
74.5%
70.2% +6

Distribution of possible records:

  5-3* 4-4*
3-5
No-margin 43.10% 46.15% 10.76%
Margin-aware 35.01% 50.04% 14.95%

* = bowl eligible

Purdue took a major step toward bowl eligibility with the win over Ohio State; now they have two chances to get win #6, with one a toss-up and the other having them a significant favorite.
Probability of bowl eligibility: 89.24% / 85.05%

Illinois

Record: 6-4 (2-4)
Rating: 50th (-10), 54th (-11)
Remaining games:

Opponent No-Margin Prob Margin-Aware Prob Avg Margin
Wisconsin
46.1%
23.3% -8
@Minnesota
72.0%
80.2% +9.5

Distribution of possible records:

  4-4
3-5
2-6
No-margin 33.17% 51.72% 15.11%
Margin-aware 18.71% 66.12% 15.17%

Getting smoked at home by Michigan put an end to any chance of Illinois sharing the division title, although they already had no chance to win the tiebreakers.

Indiana

Record: 1-9 (0-6)
Rating: 115th (+2), 112th (no change)
Remaining games:

Opponent No-Margin Prob Margin-Aware Prob Avg Margin
@Michigan State
3.7%
2.1% -26
Purdue
25.5%
29.8% -6

Distribution of possible records:

  2-6 1-7 0-8
No-margin 0.93% 27.33%
71.74%
Margin-aware 0.64%
30.69%
68.67%

Purdue's upset of Ohio State makes the easier of Indiana's two games tougher still. Indiana has not won multiple Big Ten games in a season since 2007, and they're 100:1 or worse to change that this year.

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