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Big Ten Football Statistics: Week 2 S&P+ Vectors

Nobody’s perfect; this mess is a place.

NCAA Football: Illinois State at Northwestern
Northwestern Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald “coaches” against the Illinois State Redbirds during the first half at Ryan Field. 
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Preseason Vectors

Week 1 Vectors

As you read this, I encourage you to look back at the previous charts, the movement has been interesting. I’m not going to embed the charts in this article for the sake of our mobile readers, but they’re very interesting.

Prior to the season, the teams of the Big Ten were in a semi-uniform grouping, with the average team slightly above average in both defensive and offensive potency, which is basically what you would expect for a Power 5 conference.

After one week, the conference really spread out on the chart because of some variance in the performances.

Now, after the second week, the Big Ten has re-clustered and the chart looks extremely similar to the preseason chart.

Week 2 S&P+ Vectors
Week 2 S&P+ Vectors

I attribute the week 2 changes as a regression to the mean. The Michigan Wolverines’ defense took a stop backwards, and Iowa’s offense took like two steps backwards.

The Wisconsin Badgers’ defense came back to earth a bit against a team not intent on losing (allowing ten points to Akron Zips is not as impressive as allowing ten points to the LSU Tigers).

Mitch Leidner shot the lights out for the Minnesota Golden Gophers and the offensive rating jumped as a result. However, the defense regressed a bit by allowing four touchdowns to an FCS offense (granted the secondary was hamstrung).

The other interesting find this week is how similar some teams are. The Maryland Terrapins and Indiana Hoosiers are both slightly above average on offense and slightly below average on defense. They’re fraternal twins.

Meanwhile, the Purdue Boilermakers and Rutgers Scarlet Knights are clones. Their vector arrows on the chart are a bit misleading because they were virtually indistinguishable when accurately places. I spread them out so you could tell there were two teams there.

I could have made the chart a bit easier to read by “zooming-in” on the part of the chart that matters, but I felt consistency week-to-week was more important. Another benefits is that the chart demonstrates the clear strata present in the conference. It also shows that the non-conference FBS teams on the schedule are clearly worse than most teams in the Big Ten, and they’re probably worse than even Rutgers and Purdue.

Best and Worst

Best Offense: Ohio State Buckeyes 40.9

Worst Offense: Northwestern Wildcats 24.4

Big Ten Average Offense: 33.26

Best Defense: Michigan 16.4

Worst Defense: Rutgers 31.4 and Purdue 31.3

Big Ten Average Defense: 25.97

Minnesota’s Ratings

Offense: 35.2

Defense: 27.6

The Minnesota Week-to-Week Chart

MN Vectors Week 2
MN Vectors Week 2

You asked for it; now you’re getting it. This chart demonstrates Minnesota’s movement on a weekly basis. As I said above, the second week of play returned Minnesota closer to the expected mean, but there’s been a lot of variance so far.

Of course, the hope is the offense’s performance against the FCS sacrifice was not a mirage, and that defense’s performance was a indeed a mirage.

We’ll find out more next week against The Colorado State Rams’ anemic offense. I expect the Gophers’ D will dominate that game.

The Rams also feature a defense roughly similar to teams like Maryland, Iowa, Purdue, and Rutgers, so we might get a good idea of how the offense will perform in those games.

Come back next week when we’ll see how far the Gophers move without playing a single down!