Scuzz Model Week 8: Wash, Rinse, Repeat
As much as the Minnesota game was a repeat of last year’s matchup, this week’s game may be even more uncanny. The hallmarks of the 2012 Wildcat run defense were forged in the game against the Huskers last year, and if the Cats can re-produce that effort, this could be a special weekend.
The win over Minnesota returned NU’s rating in the Scuzz model to where it was prior to the Penn State game. As a result, the simulated likelihood of beating Nebraska has risen a little; neither Iowa or MSU looked particularly good last week, ceding ground to NU in those matchups as well. The big move is Illinois, who just looks like a disaster at this point. For anyone interested, here is a lovely article about the Illini coach, and some of the questions the fan base are starting to raise about his potential. On the flip side, Michigan by way of that blowout gained against NU.
The win against MN plus the favorable matchup vs. Illinois has significantly shifted NU’s wins potential for the season – for the first time 9 wins are looking more likely than 7. NU’s expected number of conference wins in the model right now is 4.0… just under Iowa (4.5) and Nebraska (4.8). As such, these next two weeks are critical for the Cats – two wins can vault them into a showdown with Michigan (6.4 exp. wins) for the division crown.
NU vs. Nebraska
When we previewed Nebraska before the season, none of us were very impressed with what we saw. Sam would be hard pressed to say anything good about Nebraska, but a year after offering glowing praise of the defense John though this year’s product looked weak. That has played out on the field, with a defense that is particularly susceptible to duel-threat QB attacks. Their defensive numbers have never come close to what Nebraska showed during their first 6 weeks in the Big Ten, before Jared Crick went down with injury. Certainly, these defensive numbers are not bad in and of themselves, but the story is Nebraska’s defense has continued to backslide week by week for the last three years:
I also want to highlight Nebraska’s offense, which you can see has been very consistent this season. After adjusting for returning personnel (relative to the rest of the nation) they have been uber steady since week one. That said, I made the point last year that the Taylor Martinez offense that smashed onto the College football scene in 2010 had dropped off, and that remains true; Nebraska has stabilized, but they are not the juggernaut many still make them out to be.
Picks Around the Country:
All games vs. Spread: 187-145
Week 1: 4-1
Week 2: 2-3
The model came back to a more average level last week, but keeps a nice rate of 56% against the spread for the year. Last week was a good week for the picks on the blog – the model only missed on Vandy-Florida, which was close early but UF’s special teams blew the doors off in the 2nd half. Here are this week’s picks:
Kansas State (+4) at West Virginia: I will get this one out of the way… I do not love picking against Geno Smith, at home, in a place K-State has never played. Still, it is hard to argue with what the other purple Wildcats are doing this year. Scuzz Model favors KSU by 5.
Michigan State (+10) at Michigan: This looks like a great pick if you believe MSU is closer to Alabama than it is to Purdue. The Denard Robinson show will not be able to torch MSU on the ground, meaning he will have to throw the ball, which could spell disaster. Both the model and I think Michigan prevails, but not by more than 1 score (model favors Mich by 5).
Baylor (+13) at Texas: Really? Haven’t we learned that Texas can’t stop anybody? And don’t we know that Nick Florence is a fantastic QB? How is this line almost two touchdowns? Granted, Texas should win, but it’ll be closer than this… methinks people are overreacting to Baylor’s big loss to TCU… those people may be forgetting that TCU knows how to tackle – something that continues to evade the Longhorns.
NIU (-13.5) at Akron: You may remember that NIU is pretty good this year, having almost knocked off Iowa to start the season. Let me assure you that Akron is really awful (1-6 awful with a defense that gives up twice as much as the offense scores). Model has NIU by 36.
Miami (+17.5) vs Florida State: Don’t get me wrong, if Miami wins this game I’d be shocked… but the model doesn’t think FSU wins by quite that much. This one pretty much hinges on the first half: the Canes seem to come apart once they get down big, but if they can keep it close they’ll stay interested and play to the end. I also don’t think FSU has the type of running game that KSU and ND used to obliterate Miami’s D.
The Already Obsolete BCS Championship Hunt:
Here they are… the last 11 teams standing (at least the ones the model gives a greater-than-0% chance to go undefeated):
Here’s the problem: Kansas State, Florida, and Oregon State face much tougher roads in the 2nd half; Oregon and Notre Dame still have their two hardest games to play yet; and the Big East will probably cannibalize itself. I think we’re looking at Alabama and a 1-loss team (sorry Ohio). I just really hope that team isn’t from the SEC – with any luck South Carolina will help punch another perfect record this weekend. Who has an edge right now to meet ‘Bama? The eye test tells me Oregon, but there is a part of me that thinks Kansas State has the best shot… if they win this weekend their road should be the easiest, given no conference championship game.