Race for the Roses 2013: Week 5

Harry How

The calm before the storm in the West Division continues, while the East remains severely stratified.

Last week, MSU and OSU were the favorites, with Nebraska close behind in the West and Wisconsin a distant second in the East. With no real surprises at the top last weekend, how do the percentages change? As always, ratings are here and division title percentages are based on 100,000 season simulations.


Last Week's Results

Michigan State 14, Purdue 0

Not the prettiest of wins, and much closer than expected, but it's still a win.

Minnesota 20, Northwestern 17

With Jerry Kill watching upstairs from the coaches' box, the Gophers took advantage of three turnovers to hold off Northwestern and put themselves in good shape for bowl eligibility. The Wildcats, meanwhile, are 0-3 in conference and all but officially relegated to spoiler status.

Michigan 63, Indiana 47

Forget "defense optional"; this game was "defense strongly discouraged". Indiana had absolutely no answer for Jeremy Gallon, who managed to rack up more yards (369, second-most receiving yards in NCAA history) by himself than any of the four teams in the early games; on several occasions the nearest defender was at least 15 yards away when Gallon made a catch.

Ohio State 34, Iowa 24

Iowa led for much of the game, but the one-two punch of Braxton Miller (22/27, 222 yards passing, 2 TDs, 18 rushes for 102) and Carlos Hyde (24 carries for 149 and 2 TDs) eventually proved to be too much as the Buckeyes pulled a second consecutive come-from-behind win.

Wisconsin 56, Illinois 32

Melvin Gordon ran amok (17 carries, 142 yards, 3 TDs) as the Badgers jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter. Illinois threatened to make a game of it, trailing just 28-17 at halftime, but they would get no closer.

West Division

Basic Method
Team Avg wins 0-8 1-7 2-6 3-5 4-4 5-3 6-2 7-1 8-0 Bowl Outright Shared
Michigan State (#24) 6.03 N/A N/A N/A 0.85% 7.04% 22.62% 35.25% 26.55% 7.68% Yes 46.15% 70.95%
Nebraska (#38) 5.06 N/A N/A 0.95% 7.57% 22.88% 33.36% 24.88% 9.09% 1.28% 99.05% 14.18% 33.17%
Michigan (#20)
4.72 N/A N/A 1.68% 11.30% 28.65% 34.41% 19.66% 4.29% N/A Yes 8.22% 23.60%
Iowa (#56) 3.73 N/A 1.51% 10.75% 28.63% 35.24% 19.84% 4.03% N/A N/A 87.74% 0.80% 5.32%
Minnesota (#46) 3.65 N/A 1.96% 12.35% 29.84% 34.22% 18.20% 3.44% N/A N/A 98.04% 0.94% 5.70%
Northwestern (#71) 1.80 10.39% 30.25% 34.46% 19.16% 5.19% 0.55% N/A N/A N/A 59.36% 0.01% 0.21%

MSU's projected lead went from just under half a game to nearly a full game. Very little of that is from beating Purdue; MSU only moved up three spots in the rankings and 91% of that win was already factored into the standings. The largest factor in widening that gap was Nebraska dropping eight spots during their bye week, as every single Division 1-A team they played lost, several in rather embarrassing fashion, taking a huge chunk out of the Huskers' strength of schedule.

At the low end, Minnesota overtakes Northwestern with the win; injuries have really taken their toll on the Wildcats' offense, and their chances of missing a bowl have risen from 1-in-18 to 1-in-7 to 2-in-5 in the past two weeks. If Venric Mark and Kain Colter get healthy soon, their outlook will most likely improve.

Margin-Aware Method
Team Avg wins 0-8 1-7 2-6 3-5 4-4 5-3 6-2 7-1 8-0 Bowl Outright Shared
Michigan State (#23) 6.43 N/A N/A N/A 0.17% 2.57% 14.00% 33.82% 36.00% 13.44% Yes 62.50% 83.89%
Nebraska (#45) 5.03 N/A N/A 0.73% 7.04% 23.81% 35.22% 24.52% 7.79% 0.88% 99.27% 10.10% 26.95%
Michigan (#34) 4.40 N/A N/A 2.45% 16.67% 35.00% 31.52% 12.59% 1.78% N/A Yes 3.41% 12.51%
Iowa (#48) 3.91 N/A 0.40% 6.12% 26.56% 40.20% 22.63% 4.08% N/A N/A 93.48% 0.52% 4.00%
Minnesota (#57) 3.10 N/A 4.48% 22.94% 39.07% 26.00% 6.95% 0.56% N/A N/A 95.52% 0.16% 1.35%
Northwestern (#65)
1.72 11.24% 32.22% 34.82% 17.43% 3.96% 0.33% N/A N/A N/A 56.54% <0.01% 0.09%

Similar here, though MSU's projected lead is even larger. MSU didn't move at all with the narrow win over Purdue, but Nebraska dropped 12 spots during their bye week. Last week, Michigan trailed Iowa in the margin-aware projections, but the win over Indiana vaults them ahead. Still, not a whole lot of movement.

East Division

Basic Method
Team Avg wins 0-8 1-7 2-6 3-5 4-4 5-3 6-2 7-1 8-0 Bowl Outright Shared
Ohio State (#6) 6.95 N/A N/A N/A 0.02% 0.48% 4.80% 22.02% 44.47% 28.21% Yes 79.09% (81.84%) 94.43% (95.45%)
Wisconsin (#36) 5.27 N/A N/A N/A 2.64% 17.62% 38.51% 32.19% 9.04% N/A 98.90% 4.00% (4.30%) 16.88% (17.38%)
Penn State (#50) 4.08 N/A 0.44% 5.60% 22.83% 37.03% 25.75% 7.61% 0.74% N/A (93.96%) 1.10% (N/A) 4.87% (N/A)
Indiana (#77) 3.33 N/A 2.11% 16.33% 38.79% 32.91% 9.17% 0.68% N/A N/A 42.76% 0.11% (0.14%) 0.99% (1.15%)
Illinois (#88) 2.17 5.83% 22.74% 34.24% 25.35% 9.80% 1.89% 0.14% N/A N/A 37.18% 0.02% (0.02%) 0.22% (0.25%)
Purdue (#109) 1.22 22.88% 42.07% 26.68% 7.41% 0.92% 0.04% N/A N/A N/A 0.04% <0.01% (<0.01%) 0.01% (0.01%)

Wisconsin makes a huge leap for the road win, but they're still well behind Ohio State, losing the tiebreaker, and running out of chances for the Buckeyes to slip up. If not for the incompetence of Pac-12 referees, the Badgers would be in good shape to run the table and at least claim a BCS at-large bid after missing out on Indy (assuming that Ohio State does not lose twice); as it is, even winning out might not be enough with the soft in-conference schedule (they avoid all three contenders in the West). Meanwhile, Indiana and Illinois both see their bowl hopes dipping below 50% after high-scoring losses.

Margin-Aware Method
Team Avg wins 0-8 1-7 2-6 3-5 4-4 5-3 6-2 7-1 8-0 Bowl Outright Shared
Ohio State (#6) 7.39 N/A N/A N/A 1 in 749k 0.02% 0.55% 8.08% 43.18% 48.17% Yes 76.75% (76.92%) 96.61% (96.64%)
Wisconsin (#13) 6.16 N/A N/A N/A 0.06% 1.79% 16.56% 44.91% 36.68% N/A 99.99% 3.31% (3.34%) 23.02% (23.04%)
Penn State (#53) 3.91 N/A 0.07% 3.49% 26.62% 47.41% 20.26% 2.09% 0.06% N/A (96.44%) 0.04% (N/A) 0.47% (N/A)
Indiana (#63) 3.59 N/A 0.12% 5.45% 35.19% 53.55% 5.55% 0.14% N/A N/A 59.24% 0.01% (0.01%) 0.10% (0.10%)
Illinois (#81) 1.94 5.76% 27.91% 39.59% 21.10% 5.06% 0.56% 0.02% N/A N/A 26.74% <0.01% (<0.01%) 0.01% (0.01%)
Purdue (#114) 0.42 62.42% 32.95% 4.42% 0.20% 1 in 26,400 1 in 4.04M N/A N/A N/A 1 in 4.04M <0.01% (<0.01%) <0.01% (<0.01%)

Wisconsin's elevation here is even more striking, with over a two-game projected lead on third-place Penn State. There is nearly a 1 in 6 chance that neither Ohio State nor Wisconsin lose another game prior to the conference championship. Indiana is still a slight favorite to make a bowl, while Illinois's chances are about 8 to 3 against. Purdue's chances of finding at least one win improved, as their rating improved slightly with the closer-than-expected loss.

This Week's Games

Game of the Week: Nebraska at Minnesota

Minnesota, thanks to a fairly impressive win at a depleted Northwestern squad, is one win from bowl eligibility. Nebraska needs this one prior to the November gauntlet, but the Gophers, thanks in large part to home field and Nebraska's strength of schedule taking a nose-dive during their bye week, are actually favored: 61% by no-margin, 63% (3.5 points) by margin-aware.

It's a Trap!: Michigan State at Illinois

Road game against a bottom-feeder in the opposite division? Check. One week prior to a rivalry game that has potentially significant conference title implications? Check. Hopefully last week has alerted MSU to the danger. The Spartans are still the favorite, despite being the road team: 66% by no-margin, 75% (7 points) by margin-aware.

The Rest of the West: Northwestern at Iowa

Northwestern's free fall has put them in significant danger of failing to reach the postseason, while Iowa has reasonable hopes despite the loss at Ohio State. Northwestern has a history of unlikely wins against Iowa, and this would be another one if they pull it off: Iowa's chances are rated at 70% by the no-margin method, 79% (8.5 points) by margin-aware.

Blowout of the Week: Penn State at Ohio State

It's a mark of how far ahead of the rest of the division Ohio State is that facing the third team in the East merits the "blowout of the week" tag. No-margin puts OSU's chances at 84%, while margin-aware says 95% (19 points).

All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go:

Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin get the week off to let the flaming wreckage of their scoreboards cool down; Purdue staves off official elimination from bowl contention for one more week by playing no one.

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