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Hoegher's 2012 Season Reviews: THE MIDDLE MISH-MASH

This has nothing to do with football, I just needed something to open with. Are any of you familiar with the TV show "Once Upon a Time?" It's an atrocious viewing experience. Numerous plot holes, gratuitous doses of deus ex machina, schizophrenic character motivations, and min-numbingly incompetent heros, etc. This show has everything that should make me want to steer well clear of it. And yet I'm completely addicted. For all its faults that make me want to throw a brick at the TV, suddenly they'll introduce a new character and - OMG IT'S CAPTAIN HOOK, I TOTALLY RECOGNIZE THAT PERSON, THIS SHOW IS RELEVANT TO MY INTERESTS. Clearly Disney is just using this as a thinly veiled attempt to market its properties, and I'm ashamed to admit it worked on me.

Anyway, that's why this is later than I would've liked. Because I spent more than one night up until 3:00a (or later) and had to rely on far too much coffee during the day to get through work. I need to learn some self control.

PURDUE

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) 0.985 62 0.960 57 0.506 63 0.025 63

Actual Season Results

Conf Record Luck (wins) rk Adj Off rk Adj Def rk Adj Eff rk Adj Marg rk
B10 6-7 +0.5 38 1.011 61 1.072 78 0.485 69 -0.061 69

Purdue Weekly Performance

Purdue Weekly Ranking

I'm a bit embarrassed that I once thought Purdue was the class of the Big Ten East. The thing is, through the early part of the season, they really looked like it. 3-1 in non-conference was certainly up to par with what the rest of the Big Ten was providing. And sure, a lot of that was cupcakes against the likes of Eastern Michigan (2-10), Marshall (5-7), and a FCS school I'm not going to bother looking up. But their offense played pretty darn well in those games and a close loss to Notre Dame is nothing to be ashamed of, despite what Alabama would have you believe.

And honestly? There's not a lot to gleam from the season for Purdue. The Boilermakers were an average team with and average offense and average defense. With the exception of an inexplicable blowout against Minnesota, their offense and defensive rating pretty much rides that line of mediocrity. They beat the teams they were supposed to beat and they lost to the teams that they were supposed to lose to (depending on your feelings with regards to Minnesota).

I'd like to say there's a pattern to this, but there's really not. Play Notre Dame tough, blow-out Eastern Michigan: that makes sense. Play Ohio State tough, get blown out by Minnesota: that does not. In the end, all I can really say is that there is a reason the "Purdue = ?????" meme exists. Nothing really defines them except mediocrity

Early 2013 outlook? Your new coach's name is Darrell Hazell. His previous team got blown-out by Kentucky. Consider me pessimistic on the culture change. 6-6 with an upset and an inexplicable blow-out. EDIT: I wrote this when I was pretty tired, hence the negativity. My bad. No, I'm not re-writing this.

MICHIGAN STATE

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) 1.187 26 0.713 16 0.625 20 0.475 22

Actual Season Results

Conf Record Luck (wins) rk Adj Off rk Adj Def rk Adj Eff rk Adj Marg rk
B10 7-6 +0.4 42 0.754 97 0.518 6 0.593 32 0.236 51

Michigan State Weekly Performance

Michigan State Weekly Ranking

First, nice job on defense. I really thought y'all were due for a regression, but you made me eat crow on that. Not a single game all year did the defense perform worse than average, and they were regularly much better than that. Highlights include a pasting of Central Michigan... and a slow strangle of Wisconsin. Sigh...

Fortunately, you made up for that sickening display of Sparty competency by trotting out Andrew Maxwell again and again for offensive displays of offense. I didn't watch the BWW Bowl, but I find it endlessly funny that the starting quarterback was the 3rd leading passer for the Spartans. A team loses its 3 year starter at QB and their top four WR's and struggles: Crazy!

All needling aside, while Michigan State did much worse than even I would have suspected on offense, the struggles in general weren't really un-expected considering the attrition. And if you squint, you can see that the Spartans showed slow but fairly steady improvement through the year after bottoming out against Notre Dame. So there's that!

Early 2013 outlook? I'm going to once again predict some regression on defense, though I won't be as bear-ish as I was coming into 2012. I've learned my lesson and will give credit to Pat Narduzzi. They'll probably still be a Top 15 unit. And the offense will certainly improve with experience, even if Maxwell remains the starter. I don't think they'll win the division title, but I think they'll be in contention.

Or they could go 0-12. I think that would be lovely.

WISCONSIN

Pre-Season Guess-timates

Conf Record Luck (wins) rk Adj Off rk Adj Def rk Adj Eff rk Adj Marg rk
B10 11-2 (projections) 1.535 4 0.783 29 0.662 8 0.752 7

Actual Season Results

Conf Record Luck (wins) rk Adj Off rk Adj Def rk Adj Eff rk Adj Marg rk
B10 8-6 -0.9 97 1.124 47 0.700 22 0.616 26 0.424 28

Wisconsin Weekly Performance

Wisconsin Weekly Ranking

Hey, it's my favorite team! Thus begins two paragraphs of nothing but written fellatio.

Well, except for Danny O'Brien. Golly gee were you painful to watch. And then we finally find our groove with Joel Stave, when down he goes and we're left with the stragglers once again. Matt Canada got some heat this year, but I think he did a pretty decent job navigating the 3-QB carousel he was dealt. Most coaches would prefer not to see that sort of thing (well, except Danny Hope). Sure, a little more consistency would have been nice, but what are ya going to do. Crap happens.

It's unfortunate, because for once the bend-not-break defense Wisconsin loves to employ worked pretty darn well, excluding a rough 4th quarter against Northern Iowa and a inexplicable in-ability to defend the wheel route against UTEP. But it's UTEP, these things happen. Other than that, the defense was pretty spectacular all year, and did a damn fine job of keeping us in games against Oregon State, Ohio State, Penn State, and Stanford while our offense sat on the ground spraying glue in it mouth. Shame we ended up losing all of those, thanks Biels!

Early 2013 outlook? I am torn between the trials that always come with a new coaching staff, and the fact that three over-time losses out of three over-time games during the season is not likely to happen again. I'll say 9-10 wins, depending on Joel Stave's collarbone

PENN STATE

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) 1.006 59 0.565 3 0.640 17 0.441 24

Actual Season Results

Conf Record Luck (wins) rk Adj Off rk Adj Def rk Adj Eff rk Adj Marg rk
B10 8-4 -1.0 103 1.090 49 0.649 14 0.627 20 0.441 25

Penn State Weekly Performance

Penn State Weekly Ranking

I am a goddamn genius. Nailed those pre-season projections, guys. Nope, don't care about all that other stuff that happened, you can't take this away from me.

Props to the Nittany Lions, though. I did think y'all were being a bit pessimistic on Penn State in the early season, even after an 0-2 start. Safe to say, I was beginning to doubt myself, though. Thankfully, after shaking off the rust from the first few games (playing Navy, Temple, and Illinois during that stretch helps), Penn State did what they needed to do. They won the games they were supposed to win, lost the games they were supposed to lose, and managed a (minor) upset along the way against Northwestern. Was that deserving of a Coach of the Year honor? Eh... I'm hesitant, but I do think B.O.B. deserves some credit for keeping Penn State focused after the early jitters.

I think his reputation as a offensive genius and QB savior is a bit over-blown, though. It's notable that Penn State's best games on offense came against Navy, Illinois, Northwestern, and Iowa. Of those, Iowa is really the only one that you can kind of point to as an accomplishment. Aside from that, the offense was pretty mediocre. But it still managed to beat my team, so I've really not much room to criticize.

Early 2013 outlook? I'll hold off on MSULaxer 1-11 dire-ness, but I do think that Penn State will begin to feel the effects of those NCAA penalties. This is a situation where extreme pessimism in Year 1 leads to over optimistic expectations in Year 2. My guess is that Penn State will bowl eligible (well, except for that whole thing) but won't be challenging for the division crown like they did last year.

NEXT: The Big Ten's "elite." Like winning a game of HORSE when all the other players are 8-year-olds. Congratulations?

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