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Against All Odds, Week 6

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Where does MSU (and our wagers) stand after a tough loss in Columbus?

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Ohio State Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Breathe in, breath out, Spartan fans. OSU is, essentially, exactly who we thought that they were. They are a very good football team (possible the best in the country) and MSU needed to bring its A game and likely get a little bit of luck in order to hang with them. MSU did not bring its A game (more like a B-) and MSU really didn’t get much luck. As a result, MSU is now the longest of long shots to win the East and make it back to Indy this year.

This is not a surprise. The spread was OSU -20. My algorithm said OSU would win by 27, even if MSU was a Top 15 team. By that measure, MSU actually had an above average performance, relative to their performances thus far this year. At the end of the 1st quarter, MSU had won more snaps than it had lost. More than that, MSU was just a handful of plays away from being right in the game, with the ball, late in the 3rd quarter. But, that plus a quarter will buy you a gumball on the way out of Meijer.

So, where does that leave MSU for the rest of the year? Here are my updated odds for the Big Ten race(s) after Week 6:

Are here are the updated expected win totals:

And here are the trends for conference win totals, for the Big Ten East and West

As the data above shows, MSU’s chances to win the Big Ten East are... slim. I estimate them to be about 1 in 1,100 right now. But, this doesn’t mean that MSU is a bad team or is bound to finish 6-6. Actually, MSU actually went up in my power rankings this week and is somehow ranked #10 in the country. If you think that is crazy, the FPI has MSU at #15, while MSU is #18 in the S&P+, and both of those systems take recruiting rankings and/or preseason rankings into account. My rankings are not an outlier.

As for expected wins, MSU is holding steady at 8.08 wins (6.08 conference wins). Basically, the mostly likely outcome for MSU is to finish 8-4 / 6-3. But, my math suggests MSU still has a 30% chance to win 9 or 10 games and only a 25% chance to go 7-5 or worse. This is essentially right where we thought MSU was going to be back in the summer, although MSU obviously should have beaten Arizona State. The Spartans just need to steal one (or more) of the remaining tough games to get back on track. It seems to me that MSU is due for a little good luck.

As for the projected spreads going forward, I now have:

  • MSU (+12.9) at Wisconsin ⬆️ (it opened at +10)
  • MSU (+3.4) vs. Penn State ⬇️
  • MSU (-34.4) vs. Illinois ⬇️
  • MSU (-1.6) at Michigan ⬆️
  • MSU (-45.4) at Rutgers ⬆️
  • MSU (-23.5) at Maryland ⬇️

.The Penn State game is holding stead, while the Wisconsin and Michigan games are looking a little tougher this week. I still have MSU favored in Ann Arbor, but the margin is down to only a point and a half. It seems unlikely MSU will actually be favored in that game, but right now, my math still favors MSU as the better team.

As for the rest of the Big Ten, Ohio State and Wisconsin both strengthened their positions this week, both by winning themselves, and by having some of their chief division rivals lose (i.e. Iowa and MSU). I now project OSU to have a 94% chance to win the East and Wisconsin to have a 91% chance to win the West. Also note that OSU and Wisconsin now rate #1 and #2 in my updated power rankings. Penn State is now #4. Neat.

The other team that made a notable move up this week was actually Michigan. I have been dogging the Wolverines for weeks due mostly to the fact that they were playing like hot garbage and looked like a team that would struggle to get to 6-6 with their schedule. But, much to my surprise, they actually won this week and impressed my computer enough for them to rocket up the charts to #22 in my power rankings, up from #57 last week. I now have Michigan teetering between 7 and 8 wins over-all. They will likely beat up on Illinois pretty badly next week, and then they begin a gauntlet of games where they could easily lose 5 of 6.

Week 5 ATS and Upset Review

Considering how badly I blew the Iowa-Michigan game, I expected the overall performance of my algorithm to be a bit shaky. To my surprise, overall against the spread (ATS), I went 28-20 (58%) to bring my year-to-date total to 148-139 (52%). Meanwhile, the FPI had its second good week in a row at 30-18 (63%), but even with that the FPI is under water for the year at 141-146 (49%).

As for my recommended bets, here is the summary for Week 5:

I was pretty nervous about these, since there were so many, but I did well, going 8-6 (57%) bringing my tally to 25-20 (55.6%) year-to-date. The FPI was 1-1 (50%) and 14-11 (56%) YTD. The combined strategy is 38-30 (56%).

As for straight up upsets, here is that summary table

Overall, it was a fairly wild week with 15 total upsets, a bit more than the expected 12. Five of the 15 were upsets where the spread was over 8, with Stanford’s upset over Washington being the largest, and Oregon State’s upset over UCLA in 4th place. It just goes to show, once again, that you can’t just let a favored Pac-12 team sleep over at a friends house and expect things to go well. Seriously. We can’t take you guys anywhere.

As for my algorithm’s performance, I did OK, getting 4 of 9 predictions correct (44%), bringing the YTD totals to 14-16 (47%). The FPI did get its only, sad little upset pick correct bringing its totals for the year up to 8-9 (also 47%)

National Overview

As usual, here are the full results from the week to put things into perspective.

Honestly, this is a pretty boring chart this week, as your biggest over-achiever is Maryland for rolling a Rutgers team that has essentially just given up on life at this point. Other over-achievers include FIU, Ole Miss, Iowa State, USF, and Western Kentucky. Woof. I suppose that I should also point out that Central really laid the wood on Eastern this week as well. Fire Up Chips... I guess.

That is all for now. Chins up, Spartan fans, next weeks game is a big one. Until next time, Enjoy and Go Green.