Thursday, February 20, 2020

2019 Adjusted Pythagorean Record: Big 10

Last week we looked at how Big 10 teams fared in terms of yards per play. This week, we turn our attention to how the season played out in terms of the Adjusted Pythagorean Record, or APR. For an in-depth look at APR, click here. If you didn’t feel like clicking, here is the Reader’s Digest version. APR looks at how well a team scores and prevents touchdowns. Non-offensive touchdowns, field goals, extra points, and safeties are excluded. The ratio of offensive touchdowns to touchdowns allowed is converted into a winning percentage. Pretty simple actually.

Once again, here are the 2019 Big 10 standings.
And here are the APR standings with conference rank in offensive touchdowns, touchdowns allowed, and APR in parentheses. This includes conference games only with the championship game excluded.
Finally, Big 10 teams are sorted by the difference between their actual number of wins and their expected number of wins according to APR.
I use a game and a half as a line of demarcation to determine whether or not a team significantly over or under-performed relative to their APR and by that standard, no team saw their record differ significantly from their APR. Michigan State came close, but I found something more interesting about the Spartans I wanted to discuss.

East V West
Prior to the 2014 season, the Big 10 scrapped the maligned Leaders and Legends division format in favor of the more geographically inclined (if uncreative) East and West. The conference also added Maryland and Rutgers and has been stable, membership wise, for the past six seasons. In those six seasons, the Big 10 East has dominated the West in the Big 10 Championship Game. The East champion has won all six meetings, with three of the victories coming by double-digits. However, the West has held their own against the East in the regular season interdivision showdowns.
The East has finished with a winning record against the West just three times in six seasons and outside of 2017, the results have been pretty even with neither division finishing more than a game up on the other. Most college football fans and Big 10 aficionados in particular, probably assume the Big 4 in the East (Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Penn State) are doing all the heavy lifting for the division with the remaining filler (Indiana, Maryland, and Rutgers) dragging the East’s record down. And those college football fans would be mostly right. Or 75% right to put a number on it.
Michigan State has not pulled their weight for the East, finishing with the same interdivision record as Indiana. In fact, since their College Football Playoff appearance in 2015, the Spartans are 4-8 against Big 10 West opponents. Mark Dantonio surprisingly stepped down immediately following the second National Signing Day, so the task of reinvigorating the program falls to Mel Tucker.The schedule is daunting with Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State, but Tucker’s long term success will probably come down to whether or not he can beat the trio of Big 10 West teams that annually dot the schedule.

Thanks for reading. Next week we move to flyover country and the Big 12.

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