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Against All Odds, Week 10

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It feels like we are in a holding pattern, and when we land, we don’t know where we will be.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 26 Penn State at Michigan State Photo by Adam Ruff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It is safe to say that this was a fairly slow weekend for college football. Many of the big boys had the week off, and most of the ones that didn’t were not in compelling match-ups. There were not that many upsets, and the ones that did occur were pretty minor. Not a whole lot changed in the big picture.

Basically, it felt like being stuck in a holding pattern. Air traffic control has told us to circle for a week. But, don’t worry, because the plane’s entertainment system is jammed packed with movie classics such as Slow Times at Ridgemont High, all eight of the movies in The Slow and the Mild-Mannered franchise, and the Keanu Reeves flick “Slow” where he and Sandra Bullock try to jump start a bus. Classic.

As for MSU fans, each one feels like a different passenger on that very plane. For all of them, this flight has pretty much sucked this year, with quite a bit more turbulence in the later stages. But, that phase is over and the next one is almost ready to begin. The problem is, nobody knows what that next phase will look like.

Some are optimistic and believe that the plane will land at some warm vacation destination where fun will be back in the air once again. 8-4 is still possible and it would feel pretty darn good. Some feel like the plane will just make a simple landing at home just after a great vacation, but that in front of us is only the boring mediocrity of the everyday grind. Still other are pretty sure the plane is going to crash.

For now, however, all we can do is wait and look out the window at the scenery from the countryside. Clarity is coming soon.

Big Ten Metrics Update

After the very bland week that was, here are my updated odds to win the various Big Ten races, as well as the updated expected win totals and trends:

MSU’s status remained essentially unchanged by the weekend’s activities. MSU’s rank rose from 36 to 34, while MSU’s expected win total held steady at 6.82.

As for the updated lines, I now have:

  • Illinois -9.8
  • Michigan +13.9
  • Rutgers -31.1
  • Maryland -19.1

All of these lines are within a point of where I had them last week. The actual line opened at -13.5 vs. Illinois, which is higher than I expected, but lower than what the FPI was projecting. Let’s hope the computer models are right on this one.

As for the odds of each possible remaining records, I now have:

  • 8-4: 11%
  • 7-5: 62%
  • 6-6: 25%
  • 5-7: 2%
  • 4-8: 1 in 4000

The main difference I see from last week is that MSU’s odds to win at Michigan slipped slightly as UofM ranking edged up from 13 to 12, which is a little odd considering that I sure I told my computer about the Notre Dame game this weekend.

As for the rest of the Big Ten, very little changed overall. The East will still almost certainly come down to the winner of the OSU-Penn State game (where I project OSU to be a 15.5-point favorite). In the West, the math still likes Wisconsin (61%) to eventually overtake Minnesota (24%) as well as fend off a challenge from Iowa (15%). The only other real change is that Nebraska is now in pretty big danger of not making a Bowl Game after their loss at Purdue.

Betting and Upset Pick Review

My algorithm had another strong week overall, going 26-21 (55%), bring the year-to-date total to 257-245 (51%). Once again, the FPI did not fare quite as well and only went 23-24 (49%) to bring its total to 241-261 (48%). As for the betting results, I had a very strong weekend in this arena as well, as shown in the table below:

My algorithm got 4 of the 5 picks correct, and the FPI added one more. It was only the Notre Dame game (which ironically gave the strongest signal of a cover) that failed us. This brings my model’s picks to 44-31 (59%) for the year and the FPI’s picks to 19-13 (59%). Overall, the combined strategy is 60-42 (59%). I will take that.

As for upsets, things were a bit slow. The table below summarizes the results

I count a total of 12 upsets, which was dead on the 11.8 that my simulation predicted. However 10 of those 12 upsets had spreads under 5 points. The biggest upset was Georgia Southern’s update of Appalachian State (-18) which knocked the Mountaineers from the ranks of the undefeated. Oregon State’s upset of Arizona and Miami’s mild upset of Florida State were also notable.

My algorithm got 3 of its 4 upset picks correct (75%), while the FPI was 3 for 5 (60%). Year-to-date that brings things to 24-28 (46%) for the year for my picks and 18-16 (53%) for the FPI.

National Overview

As is my tradition, the following table summarizes the results of this very slow weekend:

The notable over-achievers for the week were Wake Forest, Oregon, Navy, Mississippi State, and Indiana, while Auburn, Baylor, Notre Dame, and Cincinnati were less than impressive.

That brings us to the end of this particular flight. Please stow any carry away luggage, put up your tray tables, and make sure your seats are in their upright and locked positions. We will be on the ground soon. And soon after that, we will know where we are. Look for my Week 11 Bad Betting Advice Column mid-week. Until than, Go State, Beat the Illini.