Since I finished my Y1P+ system recently, and it can provide more granular data than by merely looking at final scores, I'll be using that system instead of my main system for weekly grades for the rest of the season. Also new this week, I discover that taking screenshots of an existing spreadsheet is a lot faster (and probably easier to read) than re-typing everything.
Highest Graded Teams (Percentile Performance)
THE KING IS DEAD.
No, I'm not talking about Wheaton's "upset" (is it really an upset if you're only a 1 point 'dog?). I'm talking about Mount Union's streak of Top 2 performances in my weekly roundup. Those two Capital touchdowns were just too much to overcome.
I was pretty surprised to see that Concordia-Moorhead took the top honors this week. I mean, Wheaton just beat a Top 5 team by 22--that should count for something, right? But then I noticed that the Cobbers not only beat the Pipers by 45, but did so with only eight offensive drives (excluding end-of-half drives). They outscored Hamline by almost a touchdown per drive. That's like a basketball team outscoring their opponent by more than two points per possession (is it really? I'm not sure. I'm not a basketball guy). Hamline had some success in their first three drives, gaining over 100 yards total before their third drive ended in a fumble, but they didn't get another first down until their last drive of the game. That's what you call a good ol'-fashioned butt-whoopin'!
Wheaton is an interesting team this year. When they aren't losing games in the last second, they've been playing like the second-best team in the country. Seriously, if you removed their two losses from either of my models, the Thunder would rank second in the country right now behind Mount Union, ahead of both UWO and UMHB. I didn't get a chance to watch the first half of their game against North Central on Saturday, but they looked explosive and dynamic on both sides of the ball against North Central Monday. They were consistently getting big plays on offense, and putting pressure on Broc Rutter on defense. With two losses, they seem like a long shot to get into the playoffs, but if they do, I wouldn't rule out a couple wins considering how they played on Monday.
Highest Graded Offenses (Percentile Performance)
Mount Union basically had their way with Capital, hardly needing more than just a handful of plays to score each drive, but Capital ranks around #200 is the country in defense, depending on if you like my traditional ratings (#194) or Y1P+ Ratings (#218). Redlands, on the other had, has been hovering in the upper-40's or lower-30's of my defensive ratings all year, and Chapman dissected them to the tune of 414 yards on 21-of-29 passing. Even including their one sack for 5 yards lost, that's a ludicrous 13.63 yards per dropback. While that's not the best mark in that category this week (Southwestern had 16.69 vs. Belhaven), it was against a good defense.
Carnegie Mellon's offense would also like to have a word with Case Western's hype train. The Terriers (umm.. Tartans, sorry) ended CWRU's playoff hopes last season, and if they can sustain the level of play they showed this week until their Armistice Day showdown with the Spartans, they look poised to do so again.
Also of not is that Randolph-Macon made the list of Highest Graded Offenses for the second consecutive week. Last week they rode a dominant rushing attack into the list, and while they once again eclipsed 300 yards on the ground, they also passed for 238 yards on 20 dropbacks. The yardage numbers are impressive, but even more so is the efficiency with which they move the ball. The Yellow Jackets picked up first downs on over 40% of the rushes 65% of their dropbacks. The national averages for those stats are 25% and 33%, respectively.
Highest Graded Defenses (Percentile Performance)
UWO only allowed one offensive touchdown against one of the consistently best offenses in the country. I feel like I should remind you that the Titans only returned one starter on defense this year. While this isn't quite as dominant as a performance as UMHB had on defense against HSU last week, it's still the second-best defensive grade of the season.
The next team down the list is also from the WIAC. The UW-Whitewater Warhawks, maybe you've heard of them? UWW returned six starters on their defense from last season, while the offense returned ten, but the defense has been what's keeping the Warhawks in games against Top 25 opponents. Their offense ranks 41st in Y1P+, while the defense is holding steady inside the Top 10. Some of their dominance against UWL is helped by the fact that Tarek Yaeggi, my preseason pick for player of the the year in the WIAC, left the game early with what appears to be an injury to his throwing shoulder. Even before Yaeggi left the game, though, he was held to 88 yards on 16 passes (5.5 yards/attempt), significantly below his season average.
Berry is another squad worth mentioning. The Vikings absolutely shut down the best offense in the SAA, and the name of the game was HAVOC. The dogs of war at Berry let slip for 7 sacks, 6 pass breakups, and even a blocked field goal attempt for good measure. My models haven't been nearly as high on Berry as human voters have all season (they rank #19 in the latest d3football.com poll, but only #40 & #36 in my two models), but they're consistently outperforming expectations, and their defense ranks in the Top 25 in both of my models, which should help them in the playoffs. Their offense (#91 & #72 in my models) probably prevents anything beyond a first-round upset, though.
Biggest Upsets (Predicted Line)
I was at Wartburg's homecoming game this weekend, so I didn't get to pay as much attention to the games on Saturday as I usually do, so when I saw those top 4 upsets, my eyes about popped out of my head (and not just because I was hungover). It wasn't just a few results, either. This week had twice as many double-digit underdog victories as any other week this season.
One way to have the biggest upset of the week is to go +5 in turnover margin, like Lebanon Valley did, recovering 4 fumbles and intercepting 3 passes. In some of the simplest models for determining the relative point values of a generic turnover, each time the ball is turned over is worth 4 net points in the final score. Take away those 5 turnovers from Stevenson, and you would expect to see a score more like 35-21 in favor of Stevenson.
Wabash is having a bit of an up-and-down season. They had been toying with being upset a few weeks ago, first barely beating lowly Hiram 25-21, and then needing a 4th quarter touchdown to beat Wooster by 5 the next week. After beating Denison, probably the best team they've played so far, convincingly last week, I assumed OWU would be no problem. Instead, the Battling Bishops beat the Little Giants for the first time since Wabash joined the NCAC.