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Hoegher's 2014 Previews: PENN STATE NITTANYS

GO CHILE. Hopefully, this doesn't look dumb in a hour.

NOTE: All of the numbers and figures that follow are based on my ratings system, which is derived from scoring data going back to 1930. For more explanation, see my primer here: [LINK]

Data gathered from the wonderful resources provided by Sports-Reference, James Howell, cfbstats.com, and Phil Steele.

PAST PERFORMANCES OF VARYING QUALITY

Penn State - Historical Overall Ratings

PennState - Historical Offense & Defense

PennState - Historical Win% & "Luck"

One of the more readable coaching histories, for obvious reasons. Way to screw that one up B.O.B.

"BEST" and "WORST" (since 1930, 9953 total teams)

Rk Year Team Adj Rk Res Rk Conf Record Adj Off Yr Rk Adj Def Yr Rk Luck Yr Rk SOS Yr Rk N.C.
43 1981 PennState 43 128 Ind. 10-2 2.10 1 0.52 6 -2% 82 0.60 1
48 1982 PennState 84 21 Ind. 11-1 2.01 2 0.60 13 8% 23 0.52 1 Y
105 1994 PennState 168 61 B10 12-0 2.16 1 0.79 29 8% 18 0.27 15
150 1977 PennState 236 65 Ind. 11-1 1.88 2 0.66 16 7% 28 0.34 5
161 1986 PennState 291 31 Ind. 12-0 1.44 10 0.43 2 15% 4 0.28 16 Y

1981 Penn State (Coach - Joe Paterno)

Conf Record Luck (wins) rk Adj Off rk Adj Def rk Adj Eff rk Adj Marg rk
Ind. 10-2 -0.3 82 2.10 1 0.52 6 0.80 2 1.58 1
Total Teams Rating rk Opp-O rk Opp-D rk SOS rk Variance rk
138 1.39 1 1.29 1 0.70 1 0.60 1 0.63 120
Gm Wk Date H/V Opponent FCS Record Opp Rk Off Rk Def Rk PF PA OT W/L W-Lk
1 2 Sep-12 H Cincinnati ~ 6-5 61 98 34 52 0 ~ W 99%
2 4 Sep-26 V Nebraska ~ 9-3 2 3 2 30 24 ~ W 48%
3 5 Oct-03 H Temple ~ 5-5 33 51 33 30 0 ~ W 98%
4 6 Oct-10 H BostonCollege ~ 5-6 59 25 100 38 7 ~ W 99%
5 7 Oct-17 V Syracuse ~ 4-6-1 43 19 87 41 16 ~ W 95%
6 8 Oct-24 H WestVirginia ~ 9-3 14 31 7 30 7 ~ W 91%
7 9 Oct-31 V Miami ~ 9-2 11 20 8 14 17 ~ L 77%
8 10 Nov-07 V NorthCarolinaState ~ 4-7 79 91 62 22 15 ~ W 99%
9 11 Nov-14 H Alabama ~ 9-2-1 15 12 26 16 31 ~ L 91%
10 12 Nov-21 H NotreDame ~ 5-6 19 41 11 24 21 ~ W 94%
11 13 Nov-28 V Pittsburgh ~ 11-1 3 2 5 48 14 ~ W 48%
12 20 Jan-01 N USC ~ 9-3 16 32 12 26 10 ~ W 89%

One of the interesting things (to me, at least) I've found while going through these posts is how often a schools "best" years occur a year or two removed from their national title years. Maybe you attribute this to flaws in my system, you're more than welcome to do so. But a lot of it is just because winning a title takes a fair bit of luck. 2002 Ohio State is remembered fondly despite numerous late game escapes. How differently would 2006 Ohio State be remembered if Lloyd Carr campaigned a little harder?

Obviously, I bring this up because 1981 Penn State gets the nod here over the following season's national title squad (if it makes you feel better Huskers, I have y'all ranked 1st for that year). If you're wondering how a 10-2 team can possibly be the best in anything, it basically comes down to one thing: schedule. Penn State played six teams that won at least 9 games that year, going 4-2 against that lineup. By the Hoegher Rankings, they played seven teams that ranked in the Top 20 (six if you want to exclude Notre Dame, which I'm fine with), going 2-0 against the #2 and #3 teams (Nebraska and Pittsburgh, respectively).

They also didn't play any terrible teams, the worst probably being a 4-7 NCSU team (#79 in my rankings). Considering that there were 138 major college football teams that year, that's no small feat. Really, were it not for a two week stretch in mid-November, they'd probably have that title sitting in... whatever their trophy room is. Actually, Clemson claims the titles for 1981. Fvck Clemson, give to Penn State anyway.

Rk Year Team Adj Rk Res Rk Conf Record Adj Off Yr Rk Adj Def Yr Rk Luck Yr Rk SOS Yr Rk N.C.
5845 2003 PennState 4759 7635 B10 3-9 0.84 80 0.76 28 -17% 114 0.22 24
5919 1930 PennState 5549 6518 Ind. 3-4-2 0.95 67 0.97 77 -4% 68 0.06 55
7242 1932 PennState 6395 8553 Ind. 2-5 1.00 76 1.25 99 -23% 119 -0.14 86
7282 1933 PennState 7297 7170 Ind. 3-3-1 0.89 88 1.43 105 -3% 88 -0.44 112
8148 1931 PennState 7525 9067 Ind. 2-8 0.66 88 1.23 94 -17% 109 0.06 59

1931 Penn State (Coach - Bob Higgins)

Conf Record Luck (wins) rk Adj Off rk Adj Def rk Adj Eff rk Adj Marg rk
Ind. 2-8 -1.7 109 0.66 88 1.23 94 0.35 89 -0.57 91
Total Teams Rating rk Opp-O rk Opp-D rk SOS rk Variance rk
111 -0.59 90 1.25 33 1.21 90 0.06 59 0.77 31
Gm Wk Date H/V Opponent FCS Record Opp Rk Off Rk Def Rk PF PA OT W/L W-Lk
1 3 Sep-26 H Waynesburg Y ~ ~97 ~ ~ 0 7 ~ L 75%
2 4 Oct-03 H LebanonValley Y ~ ~109 ~ ~ 19 6 ~ W 94%
3 5 Oct-10 V Temple ~ 8-1-1 42 48 27 0 12 ~ L 3%
4 6 Oct-17 H Dickinson Y ~ ~97 ~ ~ 6 10 ~ L 75%
5 7 Oct-24 V Syracuse ~ 7-1-1 32 22 43 0 7 ~ L 1%
6 8 Oct-31 H Pittsburgh ~ 8-1 3 2 20 6 41 ~ L 1%
7 9 Nov-08 H Colgate ~ 8-1 14 17 14 7 32 ~ L 1%
8 10 Nov-14 V Lafayette Y ~ ~39 ~ ~ 0 33 ~ L 1%
9 11 Nov-21 V WestVirginia ~ 4-6 78 49 96 0 19 ~ L 25%
10 12 Nov-28 N Lehigh Y ~ ~110 ~ ~ 31 0 ~ W 95%

As much as I can feel bad for a guy that died 40+ years ago, I feel bad for calling out Bob Higgins here. He was in the process of building Penn State up to what it would become, and eventually led them to an undefeated season in 1947 (9-0-1). On the other hand, this team got shut-out by something called "Waynesburg," so maybe it's well-deserved.

Normally, a coach popping up on both the "best" and "worst" lists would be interesting to note, but since it's Paterno... meh.

FUTURE PROJECTIONS OF SUSPECT VALIDITY

Penn State Proj Rk - 31 (out of 129)

Off Ret St - 7 (1 QB)

Def Ret St - 8

Conf Prj Rec Conf Adj Off rk Adj Def rk SOS rk C-SOS rk
B10 8-4 5-3 1.06 57 0.67 11 0.09 52 0.30 44
Gm Wk Date H/V Opponent Prj Rk Prj Off Prj Def W-Lk
1 1 Aug-30 N CentralFlorida 23 39 18 46%
2 2 Sep-06 H Akron 118 114 114 99%
3 3 Sep-13 V Rutgers 56 69 39 65%
4 4 Sep-20 H Massachusetts 129 129 124 99%
5 5 Sep-27 H Northwestern 51 55 51 78%
6 7 Oct-11 V Michigan 24 21 32 36%
7 9 Oct-25 H OhioState 5 8 16 28%
8 10 Nov-01 H Maryland 59 73 49 84%
9 11 Nov-08 V Indiana 58 11 109 68%
10 12 Nov-15 H Temple 83 79 87 94%
11 13 Nov-22 V Illinois 68 75 60 76%
12 14 Nov-29 H MichiganState 20 45 7 51%

Penn State 2014 Profile (old projections)

Hoegher's Biased Perspective

I have no idea what to think about Penn State. They're a historical blue blood, have enjoyed recent success (especially defensively), and are recruiting well. On the other hand, they've dealt with sanctions and coaching turnover that makes recent history even more of a variable predictor. This is a team that can lose by multiple scores to a 5-7 Indiana team in the same season that they (sigh) beat a 9-4 Wisconsin team on the road.

However, as a general believer in power of historical success for present-day success and an avid hater of Michigan State, I'll say 10-2. Lazers belong in the Keystone State.

TANGENT QUESTION: why Ireland? Does Central Florida have a heretofore unknown redhead population? They'd get sunburned!

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