Minnesota Football: Models and Bottles! - Chaos Edition

AWWWWWWWWW YEEEEAAAAAHHHHHH. Courtesy - Golden Gopher Gridiron

Bye week doesn't mean a break from prognosticatin'! M&B breaks down the Legends Division race and urges everyone to savor the moment.

Chaos A.D.
Disorder unleashed.
Starting to burn.
Starting to lynch.

The bye week doesn't mean a halt to your models and bottles action. In fact, this week gets a ramp up to talk about what we all want to know: chaos. Think of this as TDG's take on Race for the Roses, an excellent probabilistic series over at The Only Colors.

Models

Here's what we know about the Gophers' shot at winning the Legends B1G West Division: we're gonna need some help. Michigan State needs a full on Sparty No! moment before Minnesota heads to East Lansing in two weeks, while Nebraska out jNWUing the Nerds means the entire state of Minnesota is rooting for someone, anyone, to drop the Huskers.

Oh yeah, and all we have to do is win out. Simple enough.

The Legends' Contenders:

  • Michigan State (favorite)
  • Nebraska (late charger)
  • Minnesota (dark horse)

Michigan and Iowa need not apply. Nerds? At least they get to hire an Iowa City butler upon graduation.

Big Ten Legends Division Race - Final Record Probabilities
Team 4-4 5-3 6-2 7-1 8-0 Projected Wins
Michigan State X 0.7% 9.9% 40.5% 48.9% 7
Nebraska 34.8% 47.2% 16.6% 1.4% X 5
Minnesota 74.5% 24.2% 1.3% X X 4

Like we all knew: it's an uphill climb.

M&B likes Sparty in what amounts to an eliminator game for the Huksers (MSU win probability of 89%). If Michigan State prevails, it clinches at least a share of the Legends division title. If Nebraska wins, it has to avoid a letdown against Penn State the following week and must escape FARMAGGEDON unscathed. M&B isn't convinced Nebraska can do all of that, projecting the Huskers to win only once more the rest of regular season.

Gopher fans are still (justifiably) happy about the 4 game winning streak, though this race would look completely different if Mankato Jesus had his awakening in time for Iowa rather than Northwestern. A 5-1 record would leave the door open for a number of scenarios, though that's neither here nor there. Rooting interests for the Gophers: Huskers need to knock off MSU on Saturday. Nebraska still has difficult games (according to M&B) against PSU and Iowa looming, while Sparty has a sneaky matchup against a Northwestern team that's desperate for bowl eligibility -- if they haven't already beaten Michigan, which M&B doesn't think they'll do.

Bonus models:

Projected Big Ten Standings
Legends
Team Wins Losses
Michigan State 7 1
Nebraska 5 3
Iowa 4 4
Minnesota 4 4
Michigan 4 4
Northwestern 1 7
Leaders
Ohio State 7 1
Wisconsin 7 1
Penn State 4 4
Indiana 3 5
Illinois 1 7
Purdue 0 8

Ohio State and Michigan are highlighted for the same reason: M&B sees the Wolverines' projected win total at 3.55, and the Buckeyes' at 7.44. The key leverage point? A Buckeye win probability of just 52.8% for The Game, something I'm not sure I quite believe but I'll just have to trust the model. When you simulate over 1,000,000 trials, even games with 99% win probabilities can produce losses, so a game this in doubt pushes the Buckeyes' projected total below 7.5, at which point I'd round up. Considering the season finale is essentially a toss-up, I'd be remiss not to highlight it in the projections. Urban will either finish perfect or lose to Michigan, while Hoke will fall to either 3-5 in the B1G or save his hide with the only win that matters.

Now, that scenario throws the B1G bowl pecking order up in the air. Ohio State is seeing roses, Wisconsin is set for the Capital One and Michigan State falls to the Outback. Nebraska, from this projection, would head out to the BWW bowl.

From there, things get less clear.

If Michigan loses to Ohio State in the season finale, the Gator Bowl would pick between a 4-4 Hawkeye fanbase that travels well or a 4-4 Minnesota squad that's one of the best stories in college football this season (plus, a fanbase itching to play in a New Years' Day bowl and in Florida to boot). Michigan finishing 4-4, creating a logjam in 3rd place? Well, Minnesota could conceivably Plinko all the way down to the Heart of Dallas bowl, which would be super lame.

Michigan deserves Dallas. Let's make it happen.

Bottles

The bye week is a time to rest up for the home stretch. We fans have been on an amazing and euphoric run the last month, yet it could all be tainted in a heartbeat if the team goes 0-2 to close out the regular season. Point is, enjoy the moment, for it is fleeting and should be savored.

That's why I don't have a bottle rec for this week. Instead, I implore everyone to cherish whatever spirit one reserves for special occasions and drink it in, nice and slow. Let those flavors dance on your tongue and linger on for a bit. Take a step back and reflect on the season for what it is: something to be remembered fondly, invoking lasting images of pure joy in what is most often a frustrating endeavor.

For me (and GN), bottles this week were all about top shelf bourbons, the kind that you pour 2 fingers instead of 3 and stash back in the cabinet, not to be touched again for months. I scored a Buffalo Trace Antique Collection offering last Saturday - Eagle Rare 17 - while GN imbibed some Four Roses 125th Anniversary Limited Edition Small Batch. I may be on the hunt for some Parker's Heritage Promise of Hope this weekend too. I'm sure Jimi from the TDG community will be throwing back whatever remnants of Three Floyd's Zombie Dust he didn't drink during the game.

Hey, whatever your drink of choice, live it up. We've earned it as a fanbase.

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