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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Cupcakes and other Urban Legends

We Spartan fans have heard it over and over again and from all quarters. The chUMps and fans of other B1G Ten schools have chewed and spit this at us. The written and broadcast media have taken up the chorus.

Michigan State has a cupcake schedule. No Ohio St. No Wisconsin. No Penn St. And they play FCS Youngstown State! Cupcake schedule.
MSU's schedule is tailor-made for a run at the championship.
The Spartans have played NO ONE.
The defensive is over rated and the stats are inflated from not having played a quality opponent all season.
The offense is pathetic and is only doing as well as it is because MSU has not played a quality opponent all season.

Let's take this one from the top.

B1G Ten Standings

Ohio St.         9-0/5-0
Wisconsin      6-2/4-1
Penn St.         5-3/2-2
Indiana          3-5/1-3
Illinois           3-5/0-4
Purdue           1-7/0-4

Michigan St.  8-1/5-0
Nebraska        6-2/3-1
Minnesota      7-2/3-2
Michigan        6-2/2-2
Iowa               5-4/2-3
Northwestern 4-5/0-5

The obvious B1G Ten Championship Game contenders are Ohio St. and Wisconsin and Michigan St. and Nebraska. With 3 or 4 conference games left to go, there is a good chance 2 of those teams will meet up for the title bout. Therefore this analysis will focus just on those 4.

Just the facts.
Looking at the bottom half of both division, it is obvious that the Legends Division is the more competitive division, ergo the more difficult.

- OSU does not meet Michigan St. or Nebraska. It gets Iowa, Northwestern, and as a consolation prize, Michigan. By the way, that is the bottom half of the Legends Division.
- Wisconsin does not meet Michigan St. or Nebraska. It does get Iowa, Northwestern, and Minnesota. Minnesota and Michigan may be on par or Minnesota might make the schedule harder for the Badgers. The jury is still out on that point. Otherwise, it is the bottom half of the Legends Division.
- MSU does not meet Ohio St., Wisconsin, or Penn St. in the regular season having been schedule to play what is not the bottom half of the Leaders Division in cross divisional play. MSU did indeed play Youngstown State.
- Nebraska does not meet Ohio St. or Wisconsin. It does get Penn St. along with Illinois and Purdue. Is Penn St. better than Indiana? The record seems to indicate it is.

- Both OSU and UW play the same B1G Ten bottom feeders that MSU was scheduled to play. Illinois, Indiana, and Purdue. Nebraska got dealt Penn St. instead of Indiana.
- In case you did not pick it up, neither of the Leaders contenders plays either of the Legends contenders. Reverse is true, too. Legends contenders to not play the Leaders contenders.
- The MSU, OSU, and UW conference schedules are equal. Nebraska has the tougher road, by a little.

Points go to Nebraska for the more difficult crossover schedule.

FCS Opponents.
The chUMps keep ragging that the Spartans played an FCS opponent. All this noise is a feeble attempt to detract from UM playing TWO MAC teams plus UCONN. We will take the high road and not mention that UM barely squeaked by 2 of those robust opponents. Instead, we will delve into the FCS opponents.

Question: How many of the 4 B1G Ten contenders played an FCS opponent?
Answer: All 4.
- Wisconsin beat Tennessee Tech. The Golden Eagles are 3-7.
- Ohio St. beat Florida A&M. The Rattlers are 3-6.
- Nebraska beat South Dakota St. The Jackrabbits are 5-4.
- MSU beat Youngstown St. The Penguins are 8-1.

How do these teams compare?

Total Offense
Youngstown St.   (FCS25) 440.7 yd/gm
South Dakota St. (FCS60) 378.2 yd/gm
Tennessee Tech  (FCS110) 296.9 yd/gm
Florida A&M     (FCS121) 222.6 yd/gm
Rushing Offense
Youngstown St.   (FCS20) 224.7 yd/gm
South Dakota St. (FCS82) 144.0 yd/gm
Tennessee Tech   (FCS96) 127.5 yd/gm
Florida A&M     (FCS103) 114.4 yd/gm
Passing Offense
South Dakota St. (FCS43) 234.2 yd/gm
Youngstown St.   (FCS58) 216.0 yd/gm
Tennessee Tech   (FCS95) 169.4 yd/gm
Florida A&M     (FCS119) 108.1 yd/gm
Scoring Offense
Youngstown St.   (FCS10) 39.4 pt/gm
South Dakota St. (FCS47) 29.3 pt/gm
Tennessee Tech   (FCS80) 23.8 pt/gm
Florida A&M     (FCS114) 15.7 pt/gm

Total Defense
Florida A&M      (FCS17) 326.8 yd/gm
Youngstown St.   (FCS73) 397.3 yd/gm
South Dakota St. (FCS86) 420.8 yd/gm
Tennessee Tech   (FCS90) 426.5 yd/gm
Rushing Defense
Youngstown St.   (FCS30) 133.2 yd/gm
Tennessee Tech   (FCS65) 175.0 yd/gm
South Dakota St. (FCS79) 188.7 yd/gm
Florida A&M      (FCS99) 214.1 yd/gm
Passing Defense
Florida A&M      (FCS#1) 112.7 yd/gm
South Dakota St. (FCS77) 232.1 yd/gm
Tennessee Tech   (FCS97) 251.5 yd/gm
Youngstown St.  (FCS106) 264.1 yd/gm
Scoring Defense
Youngstown St.   (FCS43) 23.9 pt/gm
Florida A&M      (FCS62) 26.1 pt/gm
South Dakota St. (FCS73) 28.6 pt/gm
Tennessee Tech   (FCS97) 33.7 pt/gm

Points go the Spartans for playing the (obviously) best of the 4 FCS opponents.

What about Strength of Schedule? How about just aggregate opponents' win-loss percentages.

Games played to date:
- Michigan St. opponents are 36-40 (0.4737)
- Ohio St. opponents are 35-41 (0.4605)
- Wisconsin opponents are 32-38 (0.4571)
- Nebraska opponents are 30-37 (0.4478)

Points go to the Spartans for playing the (obviously) best schedule of opponents to date.

Unplayed games:
- Nebraska faces 4 teams with a combined 24-10 record (0.7059).
- Michigan St. faces 3 teams with a combined 17-9 record (0.6538).
- Wisconsin faces 4 teams with a combined 21-12 record (0.6364).
- Ohio St. faces 3 teams with a combined 12-12 record (0.5000).

Nebraska clearly has the bumpiest road to Indianapolis.

Finally, the aggregate season records of all opponents is (subject to change as the games are played):
- Nebraska 54-47 (0.5347)
- Michigan St. 53-49 (0.5196)
- Wisconsin 53-50 (0.5146)
- Ohio St. 47-53 (0.4700)

So, the next time some dUMb chUMp starts wagging his tongue about the Spartan's cupcake schedule and what an easy road they have to Indianapolis, just look at him and say:

"Easy? Not much easier than Nebraska and certainly not nearly as easy as Ohio St. (or Wisconsin)."

And for the chUMps, you are not in this conversation because:


And that obviously means the Spartans have yet to face a quality opponent.
(with apologies to the other teams on the schedule)

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  1. Hey 76: Your data compilations are outstanding, and you have provided ample and clear evidence against the claim that the MSU schedule has been somehow deficient in some way. I will plan to use this post as a reference in the future to address that point.


  2. I loved the statistical data you used for the article, and I love the shot at the chUMps. Keep up the good work, Go Green!



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