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Big Ten Football Advanced Stats: Week 1 S&P+ Vectors

After one week of play, the stats are getting more accurate.

Oregon State v Minnesota Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Now that we’re through a full week’s slate of games, S&P+ data is now based (partly) on actual events in actual games. Here’s my article on the preseason expectations, which includes a quick breakdown on how to read the chart. Once again, all credit for the real work to Bill Connelly and the Football Outsiders, whence this chart is derived.

A word of caution going forward week to week: the “Hypothetical Best Team” on which the vector magnitudes are measured is a volatile data point. Case in point, its new position this week compared to last. The preseason ratings expected the Clemson Tigers to have the best offense in the country, with an expected rating of 45.7. After one week and a shootout game against South Dakota State, the TCU Horned Frogs’ offensive rating is 51.1.

The preseason ratings expected the Alabama Crimson Tide’s defense to be the best with a rating of 6.5. After one week in which the Pittsburgh Panthers allowed Villanova only 172 total yards from scrimmage, their defensive rating is 2.6.

These two changes moved our hypothetical best team’s mark up and to the left on the chart, and had the secondary effect of making every other team’s vector magnitude larger as a result. So the Gophers’ vector magnitude this week cannot be compared to their vector magnitude last week. Apples and oranges, you see.

While the vector magnitudes cannot be compared week-to-week, individual teams’ data points can be. I’ll provide an example in the first note below.


Week 1 Notes

Here’s your example, the Minnesota Golden Gophers moved down and to the left on the chart after week 1. This means two things: the defense out-performed preseason expectations and the offense under-performed preseason expectations. While the game against the Oregon State Beavers was not great, Bob, Minnesota is still solidly average to above-average Big Ten team, according to these ratings.

If you’re looking for a sunny way to read the chart, the Gophers are closer to being the Michigan Wolverines than they are to being the Purdue Boilermakers, and I call that progress, friends.

Speaking of the front-runners, Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan didn’t move much, relative to each other, but they remain polar opposites. Michigan State Spartans closed the overall gap and retain balanced offensive and defensive ratings. I hate to say it, but that triangle of games could be fun to watch.

Iowa’s offense went HAM on Miami (the Ohio one), but their defense went FART. They now own the best offensive rating in the conference and the worst defensive ratings. Now their coach’s contract will outlive most of us. IOWA.

The Wisconsin Badgers managed to not lose to an LSU team desperate to lose themselves, and that mean’s Wisconsin is below the Big Ten average curve in these ratings. That was the type of result that makes statisticians cringe. Check out the five factors box score and then don’t overthink the result.

Best offense and worst defense: LOIowa

Best Defense: Michigan

Worst Offense: Wisconsin

Oregon State and the Colorado State Rams are now the worst teams our Gophers will face all year, but not by much. Purdue and Rutgers are in the area, and Illinois, Maryland, Iowa, Northwestern, and Wisconsin are all in the very beatable range.

Shout-out to Colorado State getting demolished in Denver. Glad I DVR’d that game...