Week 4 Statistical Review

September 25, 2017

Highest Graded Teams (Percentile Performance)

1. Mount Union - win over Baldwin-Wallace 55-7 (100.0%)

2. Heidelberg - win over John Carroll 47-21 (100.0%)

3. St. Thomas - win over St. John's 20-17 (99.9%)

4. Mary Hardin-Baylor - win over Texas Lutheran 50-7 (99.9%)

5. Carthage - win over Augustana 55-14 (99.8%)

6. George Fox - win over UW-Eau Claire 44-0 (99.8%)

7. Wesley - win over William Paterson 66-0 (99.8%)

8. St. John's - loss to St. Thomas 20-17 (99.7%)

9. North Central Ill. - win over Millikin 51-21 (99.5%)

10. Hardin-Simmons - win over Howard Payne 63-3 (99.5%)


Mount Union has played three games, and they've graded out as the best performance in the country twice, and the second-best performance in the other game. With John Carroll not having the same sort of squad as they did last season, and given the UMU/Heidelberg result of last season (50-14), I think it's safe to say the Purple Raiders are going to roll.


St. John's became only the second team to make this list in a loss this season (JCU Week 1) but I suspect that a system that took into account play-by-play data, and not just final scores, wouldn't be as kind to the Johnnies. Such a system should be coming along sometime this season--hopefully before the playoffs.


The Tommie-Johnnie and Heidelberg-JCU games were really the only games between two great teams in the country this week (with half-hearted apologies to any Berry or Centre fans), so the rest of the list is dominated by blowouts.

Lowest Graded Teams (Percentile Performance)

188. Greenville - loss to Martin Luther 34-20 (0.1%)

187. Grinnell - loss to St. Norbert 66-13 (0.1%)

186. Becker - loss to Dean 25-10 (0.2%)

185. Anderson - loss to Hanover 64-21 (0.3%)

184. Minnesota-Morris - loss to St. Scholasitca 37-3 (0.4%)

183. Iowa Wesleyan - loss to MacMurray 32-14 (0.9%)

182. William Paterson - loss to Wesley 66-0 (1.3%)

181. St. Olaf - loss to Bethel 64-7 (1.3%)

180. Crown - loss to Eureka 44-20 (1.4%)

179. Wilkes - loss to Misericordia 43-14 (1.4%)


To quote exactly what I said in this space last week:

"Martin Luther can't decide if they want to play like the worst team in the country or not."


It takes a really bad blowout for the winning team to end up on the Highest-Graded list, and the losing team to end up on this list, but Wesley managed against William Paterson, and Bethel nearly did against St. Olaf (Bethel graded as the eleventh-best team in the country this week). I'm sure pretty much everyone reading this has heard of the phrase "playing up or down to your opponent." Bethel does the opposite of that, and has for a few years now. They can't win any of their tossup games against decent teams (Concordia, Dubuque), and they look completely incompetent against St. Thomas and St. John's, but then they absolutely demolish the lower tier of the MIAC, which is why they consistently hang around the Top 30 or so in my ratings, and it drives me crazy.

Biggest Upsets (Predicted Line)

1. N.C. Wesleyan - win over Maryville Tenn. 35-25 (+15.5)

2. Luther - win over Dubuque 21-17 (+15.4)

3. Simpson - win over Coe 38-31 (+14.4)

4. Fitchburg State - win over Bridgewater State 31-29 (+13.7)

5. LaGrange - win over Brevard 38-28 (+12.5)

6. Grove City - win over St. Vincent 24-14 (+10.4)

7. Wilmington - win over Capital 37-30 (+10.1)

8. Martin Luther - win over Greenville 34-20 (+6.7)

9. MIT - win over Catholic 38-21 (+5.1)

10. Trinity Texas - win over Chapman 41-35 (+4.4)


This was a pretty unremarkable week for big upsets. A line of 15.5 is about a full touchdown less than the biggest upsets from Weeks 1-3, and Grove City's win wouldn't have even made the Top 10 in any other week. Maybe this is just the model getting into a groove, or maybe there really weren't that many extremely surprising upsets.


One thing to note is how clustered a couple of these upsets were, with two of the IIAC's contenders losing to Simpson and Luther. After Loras nearly knocked off Dubuque and Buena Vista beat another IIAC contender last week, parity is reigning in my former conference home. Wartburg and Luther are the only unbeaten (in conference) teams remaining after only two weeks of conference play.


Also, I'm finding it really tempting to go back and tweak Brevard's preseason rating... but I'll try to resist until the offseason.

Biggest Outliers (Absolute Error in Score Prediction)

1. Buena Vista @ Loras (39.0)

2. Hiram @ Wabash (36.2)

3. Hamline @ Gustavus Adolphus (35.7)

4. UW-Eau Claire @ George Fox (31.0)

5. St. Olaf @ Bethel (29.1)

6. John Carroll @ Heidelberg (28.5)

7. Muskingum @ Marietta (26.1)

8. Carthage @ Augustana (26.0)

9. Maryville Tenn. @ N.C. Wesleyan (25.5)

10. Wilkes @ Misericordia (25.5)


Loras vs. BVU was projected as one of the VERY rare pure 50-50 games. Loras won by 39.


Wabash was projected to win by 40, and had to come back in the 4th quarter to win.


While there weren't many surprising upsets this week, that doesn't mean there weren't surprising results. That Wabash game would have been one of the biggest upsets ever, if Hiram had been able to pull it off, and somehow they did it while only being +1 in turnovers and being out-gained on offense 350-284. They were still extremely lucky, though. Of the total of 9 fumbles on the game, Hiram recovered 7 of them. That level of turnover luck is worth probably around 10 points on the scoreboard.

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