Scuzz Model: Is a Win a Win?
NU put up their first win of the season this past Saturday, beating WIU soundly, but not by enough to make anyone feel better. The offense has yet to impress and the defense only allowed 7 points but gave up quite a few yards.
My personal opinion is that you cannot make any real conclusions based on these FCS games. If we won by 3 points, or lost, I think alarm bells would be warranted. But a 17 point victory in this matchup is basically a check-mark in the “get past the stupid FCS opponent” column, with little insight on how the offense will look from both the scheme and performance perspective going forward. Every year for the last 4 years, the fanbase has gone into the FCS matchup with concerns based on close wins against BCS and/or MAC opponents in previous weeks. We have talked ourselves into thinking that the FCS opponent is the team’s opportunity to tune-up the passing game, and really get our offense humming. The approach from the coaches is the complete opposite; here are the opening schedules from the last four years and the passing stats from the FCS games:
2011 vs EIU: 12 of 16 for 117 yards; 21 point victory
2012 vs SDSU: 12 of 15 for 130 yards; 31 point victory
2013 vs Maine: 10 of 17 for 122 yards; 14 point victory
2014 vs WIU: 15 of 25 for 117 yards; 17 point victory
This is not to say we don’t have issues on the offensive side of the ball… I just don’t think you can use this game to decide if we’re getting better, worse, etc. I still go back to the good things that were happening in the passing game vs NIU and in the 2nd half vs Cal – McCall is engineering favorable matchups & Trevor has been finding those guys. Too many bad penalties, poor protection, and questionable play calling in between those hook-ups means we are looking at an uphill battle. I don’t have a lot of faith that our O will find itself on a road trip to Happy Valley, but Penn State has been shaky on offense and we know our D is solid. I expect exactly what we have seen from NU the last three years – close games where we are competitive, but ultimately give way late to lose to more talented teams like the Nittany Lions.
This Week’s Picks:
This year’s stats:
Straight up: 130-50 (72.2%)
ATS: 73-105 (41.0%)
Blog Picks: 6-14 (30.0%)
Good grief. The model continues to struggle. I’ve been monitoring this for a couple weeks now and have decided to adjust my inputs. I’m putting more weight on past performance than I usually do. If I’d been following that all year, here would be the model’s stats vs. the spread: ATS: 83-96 (46.4%)
As such, I’ll be using the adjusted projections this week to see how we do… Here are this week’s picks:
Maryland (+3) @ Indiana: I liked Indiana against the spread last week – the model actually favored IU, and they came through against Missouri. They come home to face an explosive Maryland offense in what looks like a classic let-down spot. The model calls this game a push.
Duke (+7) @ Miami: I’m shocked Duke is getting points against Miami. Yes, the Blue Devils aren’t quite as good as they were last year (FYI – they beat Miami by 18.) And yes, Miami is maybe a little better, but this is a game of discipline versus the lack of discipline. If you watched Miami last week, they completely lost their minds against Nebraska. The Huskers remain a one-dimensional offense, and Duke will have more options against Miami. While Duke hasn’t played anyone this year, I think their defense has improved and outplayed expectations. The model likes Duke to win outright by a TD.
Texas A&M (-10.5) vs Arkansas: I’m 1-1 picking against Arkansas this year, but I really like this matchup for a couple reasons… 1 – Arkansas is not a threat with the big pass play; you’ll recall that the only way South Carolina stayed within hollering distance of A&M week 1 was throwing deep… 2 – how can Arkansas not throw? Given the type of offense they’re going against (and remember their week 1 opponent, Auburn, who blew the doors off the Hogs) I think Bret will be playing catch-up. I love A&M in this game. The model disagrees with me, thinking Arkansas can keep it within a TD.
Cincinnati (+16) @ Ohio State: This is a terribly frightening choice. OSU has obliterated everyone in the state of Ohio forever. We have discussed OSU’s deficiencies many times this year already… and now they face arguably the best QB on their schedule without their best pass-rusher and with a suspect back 7. It’s possible the Bearcats collapse on D and get blown out, but the model and I like Cincy to at least cover.
Stanford (-6) @ Washington: Neither of these teams has looked awesome this year, but Stanford looked bad against USC, while Washington struggled with Eastern Wash, Hawaii, and early vs Georgia State. I will say, I really enjoyed Washington’s beat down of Illinois, but they are going to get outclassed in this one. Stanford is favored by 8 in the model.
Northwestern (+10.5) vs Penn State
Wazzou (+10) @ Utah
Michigan (-8.5) vs Minnesota
Bowling Green (-10) @ UMass
Kansas (+14.5) vs Texas
Colorado State (+4.5) @ Boston College
Finally Obsolete BCS Championship Hunt – Thundering Toward an 8-Team Playoff?
Most everyone stayed unbeaten this week… some interesting impacts: FSU’s numbers have dipped after their close call, Bama has jumped up after wasting Florida, and BYU will likely be passed over should Baylor, Oklahoma, & UCLA keep winning. Lastly, say hello to Mississippi State – the Bulldogs (whom you may remember from the 2012 Gator Bowl) destroyed LSU and find themselves in the thick of the SEC West race… however trips to @Bama and @Ole Miss are problematic for them long term.
Current Playoff Projection:
1-FSU vs. 4-UCLA
2-Bama vs. 3-Baylor