The Pi-Rate Ratings

August 21, 2013

2013 Big Ten Conference Preview

2013 Big Ten Conference Preview

 

1997:  That’s the last year the Big Ten Conference could celebrate a national championship on the gridiron.  Michigan shared national honors with Nebraska (then in the Big 12) that year.  To find the last undisputed national champion, you must go all the way back to 1968, when Ohio St. beat O.J. Simpson and the Southern Cal Trojans in the Rose Bowl to sew up a national title that really should have been shared with Penn St.

 

In many other years, the Big Ten had opportunities to win a national title.  Ohio St. came back in 1969 with an even better team than in 1968, but the Buckeyes fell at Ann Arbor in the season finale.  OSU went 9-0 in 1970 but lost to Stanford in the Rose Bowl in a monumental upset.

 

Ohio St. blew another national championship with a Rose Bowl upset loss to UCLA in the 1975 season, and the Buckeyes lost in two BCS National Championship Games in this century.

Michigan had opportunities to win the national title in 1976 and 1977, but the Wolverines lost the Rose Bowl both years.

 

After finishing 12-0 in a year in which they were on probation, Ohio St. looks poised to challenge for national honors yet again.  The Buckeyes should be favored in all 12 games and in the Big Ten Conference Championship Game.  If OSU runs the table again this season, they should finish in one of the top two spots in the BCS ratings.

 

The Leaders Division should not offer much competition for the Buckeyes this season.  Penn St. is ineligible, and the Nittany Lions are one of two division teams capable of giving Ohio St. a good ball game.  Wisconsin fell to 8-6 last year, and Coach Bret Bielema fled to Arkansas.  New coach Gary Andersen did wonders at Utah St., but he inherits a bit of a mess in the defensive secondary.  UW must face OSU in Columbus, and it does not look promising for the boys from Madison.

 

It does look promising in Hoosierland.  Third year coach Kevin Wilson has Indiana primed to take a step forward and become bowl eligible in Bloomington.  IU should move the ball and score on every opponent on the schedule, as the Hoosiers return 10 starters from a team that hung 49 points on Ohio St. last year and averaged more than 30 points per game.  A defense that should show significant improvement means Indiana will win at least two more games this year and play in a bowl.

 

Purdue starts over with new coach Darrell Hazell, who led Kent St. to a school record 11 wins last year and just missed out on an Orange Bowl berth.  The Boilermarkers have been a mediocre bunch since 2008 and have a 54-58 record since 2004.  Year one in West Lafayette will find a lot of Boilermaker fans drowning their sorrows in a lot of XXX Root Beer.

 

Illinois continues to rebuild under Coach Tim Beckman.  A very porous 2012 defense could regress more in season two in Champaign-Urbana.

 

The Legends race promises to be exciting all season long with four teams competing for the division title.

 

Nebraska benefits with home games against Michigan St. and Northwestern and not having Ohio St. on the schedule.  Bo Pelini has won either nine or ten games in each of his five seasons in Lincoln, and this team has a good chance to get to 11 this year, if the defense can be rebuilt.  The offense is first-rate all the way, and it would not surprise us if the Cornhuskers top 500 yards per game on the attack.

 

Michigan and Michigan St. have tougher schedules and have a more difficult path to the Legends flag.  Michigan must play Ohio St. and Penn St. from the other division, and the Wolverines face Michigan St. and Northwestern on the road.  The schedule could force the Wolverines to beat Ohio St. in back-to-back weeks to win the Big Ten Championship (of course the same is true for Ohio St.).

 

Michigan St. regressed in 2012, and Coach Mark Dantonio must replace Le’Veon Bell, who led the league with almost 1,800 rushing yards and scored 12 touchdowns.  Look for the Spartans’ defense to continue to be tough against the pass and even tougher against the run, keeping Sparty in every ball game.  MSU faces Michigan, Nebraska, and Northwestern in November, the latter two in consecutive road games.

 

Northwestern finally won a bowl game last year, and the Wildcats return a lot of talent from a 10-win team.  Coach Pat Fitzgerald squeezes every ounce of potential out of his team, and NU must be considered a contender for the Legends title in 2013.  The Wildcats have two experienced quarterbacks who bring different talents to the offense; a speedy running back who can break loose for a long gain on any play; and three very capable receivers.  If the defense can replicate last year’s production, it would not surprise us if the Wildcats give Ohio St. a big scare when the Buckeyes visit Evanston on October 5 for a homecoming date.  NU gets an extra week to prepare for this game, while Ohio St. will be coming off the Wisconsin game.

 

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has been called the best overall coach in college football, but his Hawkeyes have not challenged for a Rose Bowl bid since 2009.  UI has a 19-19 mark in the last three seasons, and 2013 does not look to be a banner year in Hawkeye country.  A mediocre passing game could cause troubles for a power running game that has potential to be quite good.  The defense is always good, but it may be forced to stay on the field a bit too much this year.  The non-league portion of the schedule gives this team an excellent shot at going 4-0, so it could take just two wins in the conference to propel the Hawkeyes to a bowl.

 

Minnesota did just that last year.  The Gophers beat four non-league teams, three of them patsies, and then defeated Purdue and Illinois to become bowl eligible.  2013 looks to be a little more difficult as the Gophers may not be able to win more than one time in the Big Ten.

 

New Teams: None

 

Departures: None

 

2014 Additions: Maryland comes in from the ACC and Rutgers joins from the Big East.  The Big Ten will finally get rid of the Leaders and Legends divisions and go to geographical alignments.

 

East West
Indiana Illinois
Maryland Iowa
Michigan Minnesota
Michigan St. Nebraska
Ohio St. Northwestern
Penn St. Purdue
Rutgers Wisconsin

 

The league will move to a nine-game conference schedule beginning 2016.

 

Pre-season PiRate Ratings

Big Ten Conference

Leaders Division

Team

Conf.

Overall

PiRate

Mean

Bias

Ohio St.

0-0

0-0

118.8

116.5

119.1

Wisconsin

0-0

0-0

114.9

112.8

114.5

Penn St.

0-0

0-0

111.4

114.3

110.8

Indiana

0-0

0-0

102.9

104.2

102.1

Purdue

0-0

0-0

98.8

96.2

97.2

Illinois

0-0

0-0

94.0

97.7

93.8

     

 

 

 

Legends Division

Team

Conf.

Overall

PiRate

Mean

Bias

Michigan St.

0-0

0-0

116.4

115.8

115.4

Nebraska

0-0

0-0

116.4

113.8

115.6

Michigan

0-0

0-0

115.7

112.2

115.2

Northwestern

0-0

0-0

114.5

111.6

114.5

Minnesota

0-0

0-0

102.1

102.5

101.0

Iowa

0-0

0-0

101.7

101.5

100.8

     

 

 

 

League Averages    

109.0

108.3

108.3

 

 

Official Preseason Media Poll

Pos Team Points 1st Place

Leaders Division

1

Ohio St.

155.5

26

2

Wisconsin

128

1

3

Penn St.

104

0

4

Indiana

74.5

0

5

Purdue

52.5

0

6

Illinois

31.5

0

       

Legends Division

1

Michigan

135.5

14

2

Nebraska

132.5

14

3

Michigan St.

101.5

4

4

Northwestern

95.5

0

5

Iowa

43

0

6

Minnesota

38

0

       

Big Ten Championship Game Votes

1

Ohio St. over Nebraska

12

2

Ohio St. over Michigan

11

3

Ohio St. over Michigan St.

2

4

Michigan over Ohio St.

1

       

* Media allowed to split vote in the B10 polls

 

The Big Ten does not release an official preseason all-conference team, so we will list the key players for each team with stats from 2012 in parentheses.

 

Leaders Division

 

Illinois

Nathan  Scheelhaase—QB (60.6% comp/4 TD/8 Int.) Good runner

Donovan Young—RB (571 yards/4.4 avg)

Ryan Lankford—WR (37-469/5 TD)

Mason Monheim—LB (85 tackles/6 TFL)

Jonathan Brown—LB (59 tackles/9.5 TFL)

Justin DuVernois—P (41.9 avg/39.2 net)

 

Indiana

Cameron Coffman, Nate Sudfeld, and Tre Robinson—QB (3 battling for #1)

Cody Latimer—WR (51-806/6 TD)

Shane Wynn—WR (68-660/6 TD)

Ted Bolser—TE (41-445)

Dan Feeney—OL

David Cooper—LB (86 tackles/9 TFL)

Greg Heban—DB (91 tackles/3 Int./11 Passes Defended/7 TFL)

 

Ohio St.

Braxton Miller—QB (#1 Heisman Trophy Contender.  1,350 rush yds. with sacks removed/13 rush TD/58.3% comp./8.0 ypa/15 TD/6 Int.)

Corey Brown—WR (60-669)

Devin Smith—WR (30-618/6 TD)

Corey Linsley, Andrew Norwell, and Jack Mewhort—OL

Ryan Shazier—LB (115 tackles/5 sacks/17 TFL/12 Passes Defended)

Bradley Roby—DB (63 tackles/19 Passes Defended)

Christian Bryant—DB (71 tackles/13 Passes Defended)

 

Penn St.

Zach Zwinak—RB (1,000 rush/4.9 avg/6 TD/20-177 rec)

Allen Robinson—WR (77-1013/11 TD)

Kyle Carter—TE (36-453)

John Urschel—OL

Deion Barnes—DL (6 sacks/10 TFL)

Mike Hull—LB (58 tackles/4 sacks/5 Passes Defended)

 

Purdue

Rob Henry—QB (should top last year’s QB production of Robert Marve and Caleb TerBush [2,884])

Bruce Gaston—DL (28 tackles/5.5 TFL)

Will Lucas—LB (68 tackles/6.5 TFL)

Landon Feichter—DB (80 tackles/4 Int./7 Passes Defended)

Frankie Williams—DB (45 tackles/11 Passes Defended)

Ricardo Allen—DB (45 tackles/4 TFL/5 Passed Defended)

 

Wisconsin

Curt Phillips and Joel Stave—QB (Phillips is the better runner/Stave is the better passer.  The two combined for 1,644 passing yards and 11 TD in 2012)

James White—RB (806 rush/6.4 avg/12 TD)

Melvin Gordon—RB (621 rush/10.0 avg/3 TD)

Jared Abbrederis—WR (49-837/5 TD)

Jacob Pedersen—TE (27-355/4 TD)

Kyle Costigan, Rob Havenstein, and Ryan Groy—OL

Beau Allen—DL (37 tackles/7.5 TFL)

Chris Borland—LB (104 tackles/4.5 sacks/10 TFL/6 Passes Defended)

Dezmen Southward—DB (69 tackles/8 TFL/5 Passes Defended)

 

Legends Division

Iowa

Mark Weisman—RB (815 rush/5.1 avg/8 TD)

C. J. Fiedorowicz—TE (45-433)

Austin Blythe and Brandon Scherff—OL

Anthony Hitchens—LB (124 tackles/5.5 TFL)

James Morris—LB (113 tackles/9 TFL/5 Passes Defended)

Mike Meyer—K (100% PAT/81% FG/5-8 from 40+ yds)

 

Michigan

Devin Gardner—QB (59.5% comp./9.7 ypa/11 TD/5 Int.)

Fitz Toussaint/Derrick Green—RB.  Toussaint returns after rushing for 514 yards  in an injury-plagued season.  Green is a true freshman that could be another Jerome Bettis.  He has put on 20 pounds since last season.

Jeremy Gallon—WR (49-829)

Taylor Schofield and Michael Lewan—OL

Frank Clark—DL (25 tackles/9 TFL)

Thomas Gordon—DB (81 tackles/4 TFL/4 Passed Defended)

Brendon Gibbons—K (100% PAT/89% FG/3-5 from 40+ yds)

 

Michigan St.

Andrew Maxwell—QB (52.5% comp./13 TD/9 Int.

Bennie Fowler—WR (41-524/4 TD)

Travis Jackson and Jack Allen—OL

Marcus Rush—DL (38 tackles/7.5 TFL/5 QB Hurries)

Max Bullough—LB (111 tackles/12.5 TFL/5 Passes Defended 1st round potential)

Denicos Allen—LB (79 tackles/10 TFL/4 Passes Defended)

Isaiah Lewis—DB (80 tackles/8 Passes Defended)

Darqueze Dennard—DB (52 tackles/3 Int./10 Passes Defended)

Mike Sadler—P (43.3 avg/38.5 net)

 

Nebraska

Taylor Martinez—QB (1,019 rush/10 rush TD/62.0% comp./23 TD/12 Int.)

Ameer Abdullah—RB (1,137 rush/5.0 avg./8 TD)

Kenny Bell—WR (50-863/8 TD)

Spencer Long and Jeremiah Sirles—OL

Jason Ankrah—DL (26 tackles/6 FL)

Ciante Evans—DB (56 tackles/9 Passes Defended)

 

Northwestern

Kain Colter & Trevor Siemian—QB NU has the best platoon at this position of any team in the FBS.  Colter is the better runner, and Siemian is the better pro-style passer.  The two combined for 847 yards and 13 TD (sacks removed) and passed for 2,184 yards with a 14/7 TD/Int.

Venric Mark—RB (1,366 rush/6.0 avg/12 TD) Also PR (15-18.7/2 TD)

Brandon Vitabile—OL

Tyler Scott—DL (42 tackles/9 sacks/12.5 TFL/5 Passes Defended)

Damien Proby—LB (112 tackles/4.5 TFL)

Ibraheim Campbell—DB (89 tackles/14 Passes Defended)

Nick VanHoose—DB (33 tackles/3 Int./10 Passes Defended

Jeff Budzien—K (100% PAT/95% FG)

 

PiRate Ratings Summary

 

About Grades

93-100         A+

86-92           A

79-85           A-

72-78           B+

65-71           B

58-64           B-

51-57           C+

44-50           C

37-43           C-

30-36           D

0-29             F

 

About Predictions

Predictions are based on the PiRate Ratings with home field advantage factored in.  The PiRate Ratings use different home field advantages for every game, since the opponent factors into the equation.

 

Leaders Division

 

Team

Illinois Fighting Illini

               
Head Coach

Tim Beckman

               
Colors

Orange and Blue

               
City

Champaign-Urbana, IL

               
2012 Record              
Conference

0-8

Overall

2-10

               
Grades              
Run Offense

48

Pass Offense

65

Run Defense

54

Pass Defense

65

               
Ratings              
PiRate

94.0

Mean

97.7

Bias

93.8

               
Rankings              
PiRate

81

Mean

68

Bias

82

               
Prediction              
Conference

0-8

Overall

2-10

 

 

Team

Indiana Hoosiers

               
Head Coach

Kevin Wilson

               
Colors

Cream and Crimson

               
City

Bloomington, IN

               
2012 Record              
Conference

2-6

Overall

4-8

               
Grades              
Run Offense

54

Pass Offense

91

Run Defense

47

Pass Defense

71

               
Ratings              
PiRate

102.9

Mean

104.2

Bias

102.1

               
Rankings              
PiRate

46

Mean

49

Bias

46

               
Prediction              
Conference

3-5

Overall

6-6

 

 

Team

Ohio St. Buckeyes

               
Head Coach

Urban Meyer

               
Colors

Scarlet and Gray

               
City

Columbus, OH

               
2012 Record              
Conference

8-0

Overall

12-0

               
Grades              
Run Offense

93

Pass Offense

78

Run Defense

86

Pass Defense

81

               
Ratings              
PiRate

118.8

Mean

116.5

Bias

119.1

               
Rankings              
PiRate

13

Mean

7

Bias

13

               
Prediction              
Conference

7-1 (win Big Ten Conf. Championship)

Overall

12-1

 

 

Team

Penn St. Nittany Lions

               
Head Coach

Bill O’Brien

               
Colors

Navy and White

               
City

State College, PA

               
2012 Record              
Conference

6-2

Overall

8-4

               
Grades              
Run Offense

74

Pass Offense

82

Run Defense

77

Pass Defense

72

               
Ratings              
PiRate

111.4

Mean

114.3

Bias

110.8

               
Rankings              
PiRate

34

Mean

14

Bias

35

               
Prediction              
Conference

4-4

Overall

8-4

 

 

Team

Purdue Boilermakers

               
Head Coach

Darrell Hazell

               
Colors

Old Gold and Black

               
City

West Lafayette, IN

               
2012 Record              
Conference

3-5

Overall

6-7

               
Grades              
Run Offense

47

Pass Offense

77

Run Defense

60

Pass Defense

66

               
Ratings              
PiRate

98.8

Mean

96.2

Bias

97.2

               
Rankings              
PiRate

62

Mean

79

Bias

74

               
Prediction              
Conference

1-7

Overall

3-9

 

 

Team

Wisconsin Badgers

               
Head Coach

Gary Andersen

               
Colors

Cardinal and White

               
City

Madison, WI

               
2012 Record              
Conference

4-4 (won Big Ten Championship)

Overall

8-6

               
Grades              
Run Offense

92

Pass Offense

71

Run Defense

85

Pass Defense

76

               
Ratings              
PiRate

114.9

Mean

112.8

Bias

114.5

               
Rankings              
PiRate

27

Mean

21

Bias

28

               
Prediction              
Conference

7-1

Overall

10-2

 

 

Team

Iowa Hawkeyes

               
Head Coach

Kirk Ferentz

               
Colors

Black and Gold

               
City

Iowa City, IA

               
2012 Record              
Conference

2-6

Overall

4-8

               
Grades              
Run Offense

67

Pass Offense

67

Run Defense

67

Pass Defense

66

               
Ratings              
PiRate

101.7

Mean

101.5

Bias

100.8

               
Rankings              
PiRate

49

Mean

55

Bias

53

               
Prediction              
Conference

1-7

Overall

5-7

 

 

Team

Michigan Wolverines

               
Head Coach

Brady Hoke

               
Colors

Maize and Blue

               
City

Ann Arbor, MI

               
2012 Record              
Conference

6-2

Overall

8-5

               
Grades              
Run Offense

79

Pass Offense

89

Run Defense

79

Pass Defense

75

               
Ratings              
PiRate

115.7

Mean

112.2

Bias

115.2

               
Rankings              
PiRate

23

Mean

24

Bias

23

               
Prediction              
Conference

6-2

Overall

9-3

 

 

Team

Michigan St. Spartans

               
Head Coach

Mark Dantonio

               
Colors

Green and White

               
City

East Lansing, MI

               
2012 Record              
Conference

3-5

Overall

7-6

               
Grades              
Run Offense

71

Pass Offense

81

Run Defense

94

Pass Defense

80

               
Ratings              
PiRate

116.4

Mean

115.8

Bias

115.4

               
Rankings              
PiRate

20

Mean

10

Bias

22

               
Prediction              
Conference

6-2

Overall

9-3

 

 

Team

Minnesota Golden Gophers

               
Head Coach

Jerry Kill

               
Colors

Maroon and Gold

               
City

Minneapolis

               
2012 Record              
Conference

2-6

Overall

6-7

               
Grades              
Run Offense

72

Pass Offense

65

Run Defense

65

Pass Defense

67

               
Ratings              
PiRate

102.1

Mean

102.5

Bias

101.0

               
Rankings              
PiRate

48

Mean

48

Bias

52

               
Prediction              
Conference

1-7

Overall

5-7

 

 

Team

Nebraska Cornhuskers

               
Head Coach

Bo Pelini

               
Colors

Scarlet and Cream

               
City

Lincoln, NE

               
2012 Record              
Conference

7-1 (lost Conf. Championship Game)

Overall

10-4

               
Grades              
Run Offense

86

Pass Offense

81

Run Defense

78

Pass Defense

81

               
Ratings              
PiRate

116.4

Mean

113.8

Bias

115.6

               
Rankings              
PiRate

19

Mean

16

Bias

21

               
Prediction              
Conference

7-1 (lose Conf. Championship Game)

Overall

11-2

 

 

Team

Northwestern Wildcats

               
Head Coach

Pat Fitzgerald

               
Colors

Purple and White

               
City

Evanston, IL

               
2012 Record              
Conference

5-3

Overall

10-3

               
Grades              
Run Offense

82

Pass Offense

77

Run Defense

85

Pass Defense

76

               
Ratings              
PiRate

114.5

Mean

111.6

Bias

114.5

               
Rankings              
PiRate

29

Mean

25

Bias

27

               
Prediction              
Conference

6-2

Overall

10-2

 

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