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.
Highest Graded Teams (Percentile Performance)
UST scored an offensive TD with 7 seconds left against St. Olaf, while leading 91-0... Whatever.
UW-La Crosse, in stark contrast to a lost of the other Pool C bubble teams in Week 11, issued a statement. St. John's only won by 7 in a de-facto playoff play-in game. Case Western should have lost, needed a personal foul penalty, a blocked punt TD return, and OT to stay undefeated. Frostburg State needed 2 OTs to beat Salisbury. UWL destroyed a team that almost beat Oshkosh a couple weeks ago. Nick Holcomb finished what ought to be an All-American season with a WIAC-record 5 TDs, and the defense only allowed 7 points and forced four turnovers.
Wheaton finished their year ranked #3 in my model, ahead of both of last year's Stagg Bowl participants. Seriously, if not for those two weeks immediately following the hazing scandal (or even one of them), this is a semifinal or Stagg Bowl-caliber team. They finished this season with the highest ratings ever (since 1998) for a team left out of the playoffs.
It may seem odd to see Mount Union on the list for best grades, despite eking out a win against 4-loss John Carroll. It shouldn't be. I was hesitant to point this out last week, but JCU had better pre-game odds against UMU this season than they did last year. I would also argue that John Carroll played better against Mount Union this year than they did last year, for two reasons.
Mount Union is better this year
John Carroll did better in the stats least associated with randomness (turnovers)
John Carroll was +4 in TO margin last year, and gained 8 fewer first downs, and only won by 3. This year, they were -1 in TO margin and only had 4 fewer first downs. They definitely took a few lumps in the middle of the season this year, but they finished with a better rating this season than they did in their semifinalist performance last year. Don't count them out in the OAC for 2018.
Highest Graded Offenses (Percentile Performance)
St. Thomas again. Whatever.
Alfred only attempted one pass against Hartwick, and still averaged nearly 11 yards per play, accumulating over 600 rushing yards. They had 24 rushing first downs on the day, and only attempted one punt. A week after taking Brockport to the wire, Alfred shows that they should still be in the conversation for the E8 crown in 2018.
Washington and Lee may not have been "on the bubble" like UW-La Crosse was, because a win clinched their conference AQ, but they left no doubt. The top rushing offense in the country didn't put up the sort of numbers Alfred did against Hartwick, but they still racked up 466 yards on 60 carries--7.8 yards per rush. Josh Breece had 280 on 21 carries, including a 95 yard TD run. Their starting QB, Drew Richardson, also went 4-for-4 with 123 yards and two TDs. As a team, W&L averaged over 20 yards per attempt through the air.
Highest Graded Defenses (Percentile Performance)
Both SJU and Concordia cracked the Top 10 in defensive performances last week. This has happened a few times this year, including a couple of Linfield games, so I feel like I should reiterate that these stats are all pace-independent. Playing a slow game, with fewer plays, total yards, drives, and touchdowns doesn't affect a team's yards/play, first down rate, or points/drive. Both the Cobbers and Johnnies defenses came to play on Saturday. The two teams were a combined 6 of 30 on third downs, and each team forced two interceptions. Two of the three cumulative scoring drives were on short fields of 50 yards or less, and the only drive the entire game that went for 50 yards or more was St. John's lone TD, capped off by a 24 yard reception by Dan Harrington.
Mary Hardin-Baylor and Linfield both made their regular appearances as one of the top 10 defenses in the country. While the saying goes, "defenses win championships," I am a firm believer that great teams beat great defenses. UMHB's Stagg Bowl team last year wouldn't have beaten Linfield, UMU, and UWO without their defense, sure, but they also had one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, and arguably the best offensive line in the country. Linfield, likewise, isn't beating Hardin-Simmons a year ago if not for an All-American quarterback throwing for nearly 400 yards. I'm skeptical of their playoff chances if they can't find an offensive spark.
Biggest Upsets (Predicted Line)
My model had one of its best weeks ever in terms of winning percentage last week, but it also had more 20-point upsets than any other week from the last two seasons. Let this week also serve as your weekly reminder that having a positive turnover margin also really helps when you're trying to pull off an upset. The four teams who pulled off upsets of greater than 17 points were an average of +2.75 in TO margin, which would account for about 11 points per game. If a few balls bounced a little differently, Kean and Bridgewater State probably avoid the Week 11 let-down.
Somehow, Ursinus only ran 37 plays compared to Dickinson's 88. Ursinus went for 6.2 yards/play and 7.6 yards/rush, but only picked up 8 total first downs, compared to 27 by Dickinson. They also only punted the ball twice all day. I wish I would have watched this game, because it's one of the weirdest box scores I've ever seen.
Westfield State relied on short fields to make the difference in their upset West Conn. Two of their three first half touchdowns were on drives of less than 20 yards thanks to turnovers. The turnovers weren't completely a factor of luck though, because their defense still held West Conn below 200 yards total offense, and had havoc rate (TFLs, INTs, PBUs, FFs, & Blocks per play) of over 25%.