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Against All Odds, Week 5

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Coach Dantonio Played the Odds this week and won. But that wasn’t the only Odd thing that happened

NCAA Football: Indiana at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

I think that there is one thing that we can all agree with: it was an odd game for an odd week. For once, MSU offense saved the day as MSU’s defense struggled. Northwestern’s offense was a week late and showed up wearing Indiana uniforms. Matt Coughlin missed another kick, yet also won the game. Brandon Sowards was almost the hero. We all should have taken the over.

Uh, what the heck is going on?

As for the game winning field goal, Coach Dantionio made a somewhat odd decision to milk the clock and kick the winning FG with only seconds left. While it might have seemed strange, to me it felt simply like fouling a team before than can hoist a three when you are up three late in basketball. The only difference is that the odds are better with the choice Coach D made.

According to Kenpom, the odds of losing using the “foul” strategy is about 6.5%.

According to this SI article, the odds of a college kicker missing a PAT is about 3.8%. Even if Big Red would have missed, MSU still could have won in overtime, so the odds of losing would have been about half that.

If I consider the fact that Indiana would have almost certainly let MSU score with a minute left, and the fact that Indiana had literally just marched up the field in about a minute was evidence enough for me that Coach D was making the right choice. If nothing else, I was already getting the jitters about IU potentially going for 2 to try win in regulation. The odds of a successful 2-point conversion are 40% or better. That does not sound like fun. Just ask Clemson.

But, at the end of the day, MSU won, and as we found out 2 weeks ago, a win is a heck of a lot better than a loss. So, after the dust settled early Sunday morning, here are the updated odds for the Big Ten race, based on my power rankings and projected point spreads.

Here are the updated expected win totals and number of games favored (or already won/lost):

A more visual representation of the data, along with the trends for the year is shown here:

For a weekend in the Big Ten with fairly ho-hum schedule, I see a lot of movement in these probabilities. Part of this is due to the fact that I have now cut loose the preseason rankings data from my analysis. For a team like Michigan, who was ranked in the Top 5 but has shown nothing so far this year, the updated numbers are not kind. (Sorry, but beating Rutgers to a pulp is literally meaningless.)

But, that is not the only factor. Ohio State and Penn State both dominated, as did Iowa, while Wisconsin looked a bit more vulnerable. As for MSU, my system has consistently had MSU ranked in the Top 15 in my power rankings, and MSU actually went up this week to #12. However, the OSU and PSU games look even tougher after Week 5, as those teams went up even more.

If I literally add all of that up, Ohio State is the new #1 team in the country with a 94% chance to win the East, a 91% chance to win the Big Ten and a 73% chance to make the Playoffs. Based on how they have looked over the past few weeks, it is hard to argue with that. The other big change in the East is that Penn State has now leap-frogged MSU for the 2nd best odds in East at 4.6%. MSU is at 1.6%, and all other teams in the East I give less than a 1 in 4 million chance. While that is a bit hard to believe, it is pretty hilarious.

As for the race in the Big Ten West, Iowa made a major move this week and their odds are now up to 44%. Meanwhile, the Badgers underwhelmed a bit against Northwestern, and their odds fell to 54% while they dropped out of my Top 10.

MSU’s total expected wins held pretty steady at 8.61 wins after Week 5. I now project that MSU has a 14% chance to win at least 10 games, a 55% chance to win at least 9 games, and a 92% chance to win at least 8. As for my projected spreads for the MSU’s remaining games, I have:

  • MSU (+27.4) at Ohio State ⬆️
  • MSU (+3.6) at Wisconsin ⬇️
  • MSU (+3.8) vs. Penn State ⬆️
  • MSU (-28.1) vs. Illinois ⬇️
  • MSU (-13.5) at Michigan ⬇️
  • MSU (-46.0) at Rutgers ⬇️
  • MSU (-28.6) at Maryland ⬇️

The Ohio State and Penn State lines have gotten worse, but the remaining 5 games all look better. The actually Ohio State lined has opened at +17.5 for MSU. That is about where I expected, but my computer is not optimistic about next weekend.

Week 4 Upset and ATS Review

Overall, my picks, similar to MSU, were just OK. I went 25-26 (49%) against the spread, which brings my year-to-date tally to 120-119 (50.2%). For the first time this year, really, ESPN’s FPI had a good weekend, going 31-20 ATS (61%). The bad news for the FPI is that YTD it is only 111-128 (46.4%) which is still pretty bad.

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

Based on just my picks, I was 3-3, which brings my YTD totals to 17-14 (54.8%). Not bad. Although the FPI only signaled two picks this week, they both were correct, which brings its total YTD to 13-10 (56.5%). Altogether, that puts me at 29-23 (55.8%) which is solid, in my view.

As for the straight-up upsets, here is the summary table:

While I predicted that it could be a wild weekend for upsets, it really wasn’t. The biggest upset based on the opening line was Arkansas State over Troy (-6). As for the computers’ performance, I again went five hundred at 3-3, while the FPI went 3 of 4. That brings my performance YTD to 9-12 (43%) and the FPI’s performance to 7-9 (44%).

National Overview

As usual, here are the full results from the week to put things into perspective. Due to some of the off-scale results this week, I will show both the full graph and a zoomed-in version such that the data labels aren’t all messed up:

and zoomed in:

The national plot emphasizes some of the oddness in the Big Ten, as Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, and Iowa were four of the biggest over-achievers of the week, along with Cincinnati, TCU, Auburn, and Utah. On the flip side, Clemson, Texas A&M, and even Alabama were some of the clear underachievers... odd.

As for the upsets, Duke and Hawaii boat-raced VA Tech and Nevada, despite both being narrow underdogs. Thanks for messing up my plot, jerks.

That is all for now. Keep a look out for more bad betting advice midweek. Until then, enjoy, and Go Green.