Week 4: Saturday Morning Stats (Hoosiers & Minutemen)
The Scuzz Model is back this week, just in time to preview the Big Ten Conference Season! Not a whole lot to say about last week’s NU win (though a great thing in and of itself), so we’ll focus on looking forward.
Before I get to the usual array of projections, I wanted to highlight an adjustment I’ve just baked into the model. It’s pertinent because as I was looking at which Big Ten teams the model sees as likely division champs, I was surprised to see Michigan still highly rated. Some digging has led me to discover the following:
As I’ve mentioned previously, I do not include results from 1-AA matchups (FCS) in the Scuzz model, primarily because those games really skew ratings; all other FBS teams do get counted though. This has created a small issue this year, due to the complete blow-out nature of every game Massachusetts has played. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy UMass and their top-notch college band have made the jump to football’s highest division, but their output on the field is screwing up my model. This is exacerbated because both Michigan and Indiana have played UMass, and won by 40+ points (Connecticut crushed the Minutemen as well, but it’s the B1G teams I really care about for obvious reasons). Look at how much the Wolverines and Hoosiers expected winning percentage increased on account of the UMass game:
The Indiana result in particular is really jarring. I’ve decided to treat these matchups like 1-AA games and exclude them from the model. As a result, NU gets a slight boost in the expected outcome against both of these squads:
Note that “last week” actually represents the projections I shared two weeks ago. You can see in the game-by-game that Michigan, Indiana, MSU, and Illinois especially are all looking a little better in terms of NU’s likelihood of winning. Unfortunately a lot of this is being wiped out by improved results from PSU and Minnesota, which look much tougher statistically after the last two weeks. As a result, the wins distribution has moved very little from last time out: some slight increases in the 7 and 8 win columns, but nothing significant.
While a win this week would likely push NU into the official Top 25 rankings, it will probably have little impact on the Scuzz model’s expectations: the Wildcats are a huge favorite, as you can see above. On the podcast this week, John talked about how bad IU’s defense has been… here you can see it statistically – essentially a straight line from week 10 last year, though today, over 310 pts allowed per 100 possessions. The Scuzz model average for all teams is around 220, so IU is about 30% worse than average.
You can also see that now with the UMass game excluded, IU’s profile drops in that 3rd week of 2012 (rather than an increase, we see the offense drop off)…. That is due to an adjustment I made to account for the Tre Roberson injury. Interestingly enough, the following week against Ball State, the offense performed pretty much as the Roberson-adjusted data point would indicate.
This graph tells you one last thing: IU’s defense gives up almost twice as many points per possession as its offense is able to score. This is fantastic news for a Cats team who will force IU to throw the ball with their 2nd and 3rd string QBs.
Big Ten Predictions:
To preview the conference overall, I’ve prepared just a couple quick charts to indicate the Scuzz Models picks in each division. First the leaders, where the model still really believes in Wisconsin. Some of this is the way I blend efficiencies from the prior year, but some of it is also due to the Badger defense, which is outpacing last year’s squad enough to take some of the edge off the plummeting UW offense. OSU is a strong second, with little chance for the other four to pull even at this stage.
The Legends division still resembles the free-for-all we thought it would be. Michigan and Nebraska are neck and neck, but 5 of the 6 teams have reasonable chances of finishing first. I expect that a Minnesota win this week vs. Iowa would start to move the needle for the Gophers, who have not performed well enough yet to outweigh last year’s disaster ratings.
Picks Around the Country:
All games vs. Spread: 93-85
Week 1: 4-1
Week 2: 2-3
Had to take week 4 off for some travel, but maybe it was a good thing… the model was not great that week. Still over 50% for the year vs. the spread though. Here are this week’s picks:
Wisconsin (+11.5) at Nebraska: The model has been over estimating the Badgers all year, but this line befuddles me. Wisconsin lost a close game on the road to Oregon State, while Nebraska got crunched by UCLA (who subsequently lost to Oregon St). The communitive property of college football tells us these teams are not separated by two scores (really, we have one good rushing team, one good defensive team, and a lot of question marks, which leads me to think close low scoring affair… or Wisc wakes up and blows them out). Scuzz model favors Wisc by 1.
Texas (-2) at Oklahoma State: I don’t love this pick because it means trusting the Longhorns, but at the same time Arizona was able to slow down and outscore OSU (and then got shutout and lapped by the Ducks). I know OSU has a good home field advantage, but I think Texas is due in this series (and say what you will about their QB situation, they have a strong D). Model likes UT by 7. (I’ve just learned UT will be missing 4 players including the kicker… still rolling w this pick though).
West Virgina (-11.5) vs. Baylor: WVU has not stopped on offense. The “air raid” is in full effect, and Geno Smith looks awesome. On the other side is Baylor, who lost so much talent but has benefited thus far from weaker matchups. I and the model expect WVU to smash them in this game.
UTSA (-1) at New Mexico State: the Road-Runners are unproven yet at the FBS level, but they are probably the best of the 4 teams that moved up from FCS this year (currently 4-0). New Mexico State is the worst team in FBS. Scuzz model loves UTSA (mostly because they have a ton of returning players)… seems reasonable that they have a shot to win.
Oregon (-28) at Washington State: Uh… has anyone been watching Oregon? Their O is still explosive and their D is better than ever. The model says 36 points and I don’t think that’s enough. Oh and Wash St. lost to Colorado last week. At home.
The Already Obsolete BCS Championship Hunt:
Two more weeks and two more major competitors gone. USC and now Oklahoma have joined the one-loss crowd and two new teams have joined this weekly tracker – Notre Dame and Louisiana Tech. The story here though is Alabama… 75% chance of going undefeated now, which frankly doesn’t seem off – they of course have tough games, but nobody appears to be in the same league as them (and LSU’s tight win over Auburn has really hurt their profile). As for Alabama’s potential opponent? I like Florida State’s chances – they’ve already beaten Clemson, and while the ‘Noles have tough games against Virginia Tech and Florida, the other prime candidates have much tougher matchups; Oregon would be the one team you could argue has an easier road, especially considering Stanford’s loss last night.