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Hoegher's 2012 Season Reviews: THE DREGS

With the season over and over 200 days until the next kick-off, I've got to get my football fix somehow. I thought I'd do a season review for each Big Ten team, from the bad (Illinois, for example) to the less-bad (Ohio State, for example). Now, since I don't think too many of you are interested in reading about how your team failed this year (everyone but Wisconsin was not a conference champion, and Wisconsin lost their bowl game), so these will be brief. I'll work from the bottom up, so today we have the I's... and Minnesota. Purdue, you know you deserve to be here, so consider yourself lucky.

I'll post my pre-season projections (though these will be with my updated formula, so don't go scouring through my OTE archives here) and compare that to the actual results. Many opportunities to laugh at me will ensue.

ILLINOIS

Pre-Season Guess-timates

Conf Record Luck (wins) rk Adj Off rk Adj Def rk Adj Eff rk Adj Marg rk
B10 6-6 (projections) 0.942 69 0.782 27 0.547 47 0.160 49

Actual Season Results

Conf Record Luck (wins) rk Adj Off rk Adj Def rk Adj Eff rk Adj Marg rk
B10 2-10 -0.4 83 0.571 123 0.948 60 0.376 108 -0.377 99

Illinois Weekly Performance

Illinois Weekly Ranking

Apologies for not indicating the opponent on a given week. I have other plots that do give that information, but I didn't want to clutter this up too much.

First, a sign for optimism: Tim Beckman was always going to have some trouble. Any coach taking over a below-average program is bound to struggle in his first year. Illinois under Ron Zook certainly qualifies, despite what Rose Bowl records may show. The offense was pretty much a disaster waiting to happen, especially with the departure of AJ Jenkins (not that it was that great last year anyway). The defense... wasn't completely terrible? That's what it says here, though being outscored by double digits in 9 out of 12 games makes that a hard point to support. Regardless, any new coach hoping to install life in their new program needs to burn it down and start fresh.

That said, it would have been nice to see some improvement through-out the year, which Beckman decidedly did not show. And no: a 3 pt loss to Purdue does not count. That defense is decidedly boosted by games against Western Michigan and Charleston Southern, which... yay... Hopefully, Beckman starts to show something for those Penn State recruits he stole (BA-DUM-TISH).

Early 2013 outlook? Hey, every conference needs a bottom dweller. At least there's basketb... oh.

INDIANA

Pre-Season Guess-timates

Conf Record Luck (wins) rk Adj Off rk Adj Def rk Adj Eff rk Adj Marg rk
B10 3-9 (projections) 0.908 80 1.304 109 0.411 102 -0.396 105

Actual Season Results

Conf Record Luck (wins) rk Adj Off rk Adj Def rk Adj Eff rk Adj Marg rk
B10 4-8 -1.2 109 1.219 34 1.344 111 0.475 73 -0.126 77

Indiana Weekly Performance

Indiana Weekly Ranking

Well, well Kevin Wilson, perhaps there's hope for you yet. Indiana showed marked improvement from 2011, and got a heck of a lot closer to bowl eligibility than I thought they would (I believe my assertion last summer was that I'd eat my hat if they got to six wins). In fact, looked at that "Luck" rating (and the fact that they blew in-excusable games against Navy and Ball State), they probably should have been playing in December.

The defense was still just as bad as I projected it to be (in a rare moment of remarkable accuracy), but the offense was much better than my expectations. Don't get me wrong, 2011 Indiana was pretty darn terrible, to the point where it'd be hard for them to not show large improvement somewhere, but still fielding a Top 40 offense was a heck of a lot more optimistic than I think most were thinking.

It is a bit concerning at the sudden drop-off of offensive performance once the Hoosiers hit Week 8, but games against Michigan State (Week 6) and Ohio State (Week 7) may have inflated their offensive perception a bit. Scoring any points on Michigan State is good, and scoring 40+ points on anyone is going to rate out strong... well, unless the opponent is Massachusetts. Yeesh.

Early 2013 outlook? Fvck it, I'm going deep. I'm assuming that Kevin Wilson holds the line on offense, and I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt that the defense will improve from "horrific" to "below average." 6-6 with a late December bowl, y'all.

IOWA

Pre-Season Guess-timates

Conf Record Luck (wins) rk Adj Off rk Adj Def rk Adj Eff rk Adj Marg rk
B10 8-4 (projections) 1.005 61 0.722 18 0.582 31 0.283 35

Actual Season Results

Conf Record Luck (wins) rk Adj Off rk Adj Def rk Adj Eff rk Adj Marg rk
B10 4-8 -0.4 80 0.727 105 0.823 42 0.469 77 -0.096 73

Iowa Weekly Performance

Iowa Weekly Ranking

Greg Davis everybody! I was actually pretty surprised at my initial projections for Iowa's offense, considering I thought James Vandenberg had a pretty solid 2011 season. AIRBHG can do his worse, but he leaves the QB's alone. But Greg Davis had other plans, and so here we sit with an offense that is generously described as "bad." The defense under-performed as well, but:

a) There's only so much you can do when your offense continues to go 3 and out (or worse)

2) They were still an above average unit, though Iowa fans probably have the right to expect better.

Positives to take away is that Iowa, despite not possessing an offensive attack anywhere near deserving of a bowl bid, was in contention for pretty much every game, with the exception of Penn State (L 14-38) and Michigan (L 17-42). I'm well aware at how that's little comfort when your own team seems incapable of getting any points to take advantage (EXHIBIT A: EVERY SINGLE WISCONSIN LOSS THIS YEAR). Also, Indiana was pretty much the anti-Iowa, yet far more fun to watch... but we're trying to look at positive here.

Early 2013 outlook? Uh... I have no idea. James Vandenberg leaves Iowa City, taking his shattered NFL dreams with him, along with any and all experience the Hawkeyes had at QB in 2012. Greg Davis and AIRBHG remain at large though, so it's probably safe to take the under at whatever Vegas puts for Iowa's 2013 win total.

MINNESOTA

Pre-Season Guess-timates

Conf Record Luck (wins) rk Adj Off rk Adj Def rk Adj Eff rk Adj Marg rk
B10 4-8 (projections) 0.856 91 1.136 92 0.430 90 -0.280 93

Actual Season Results

Conf Record Luck (wins) rk Adj Off rk Adj Def rk Adj Eff rk Adj Marg rk
B10 6-7 +0.6 30 0.756 96 0.845 44 0.472 74 -0.089 71

Minnesota Weekly Performance

Minnesota Weekly Ranking

Jerry Kill, commendable job (I know, I'm really going out on a limb here). Specifically, there were two things you did that bear worth mentioning.

1) You beat all the teams you were supposed to beat (cutting it a bit close with UNLV, but still looks the same at the end of the day). The line at which I draw "BAD TEAMS THIS WAY" is those that manage to lose to teams less talented than them. You did not do that, and you even scored an upset or two (depending on if you count Purdue, which I really don't).

ii) You improved Minnesota's defense significantly. This is a group that had been languishing in the bottom half of the FBS for most of the Brewster era, and you brought it to respectability. In my personal opinion, it's more difficult to show improvement on defense than offense if you're not among the college football upper-class (you can scheme around talent disadvantages on offense, it's much more difficult to do that on defense). This isn't really a hard truth that I've investigated, just a theory of mine.

Of course, the year (even with a bowl berth and a near-win despite being a rather large under-dog) could have been better if the offense had managed to show the same kind of improvement. I'll give you a pass though, as quarterback problems can stunt the ability of an offense to do it's job. I was also never the biggest fan of Marqueis Gray - QUARTERBACK, so I consider Philip Nelson to be a pretty big upgrade.

Also, a reminder that I'm just doing these by my numbers, because Purdue totally deserves to be in this slot instead of Minnesota. I'm not going to be nearly as optimistic on the Boilermakers when they come around.

Early 2013 outlook? Bowl losses! Ever decreasing margins in the all-time series against Wisconsin! Probably an upset! These are actually good things, though! Also, you have hockey, which I vaguely remember Wisconsin being elite at once.

NEXT: The Big Ten Middle Class (AKA: still shit compared to the rest of the country). Yes, Wisconsin is in that one.

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