Preseason projections: West Division

July, 14, 2014
Jul 14
9:00
AM ET
Last week, we took a look at the criteria that made up the average Big Ten champion. This week, we're taking a look at the preseason projections that come from our friends over at ESPN Stats & Info.

Most of the numbers here were built off our preseason Football Power Index (FPI), and ESPN Stats & Info plans to update the information during the season as teams' identities become clearer from week-to-week.

We'll have the East Division on Tuesday, but here are the preseason odds, projections and numbers for the West:

Illinois Fighting Illini

Strength of schedule: 58

Projected overall record: 5.47 wins, 6.54 losses

Projected conference record: 2.73 wins, 5.27 losses

Odds of winning the Big Ten: 0.2 percent

Three interesting games: vs. Purdue -- 76.7 percent predicted chance to win (win by 11.2 points); at Ohio State -- 5.2 percent predicted chance to win (lose by 25 points); vs. Minnesota - 54.8 percent predicted chance to win (win by 1.8 points)

Synopsis: Illinois is the favorite to win three of its four nonconference games, but it gets a bit dicey after that. The Illini are favored over Purdue and Minnesota, but the best shot it has at winning another Big Ten game -- at least according to Stats & Info -- is against Penn State. The Illini have a 38.9 percent shot at winning there.






Iowa Hawkeyes

Strength of schedule: 59

Projected overall record: 7.96 wins, 4.27 losses

Projected conference record: 4.85 wins, 3.15 losses

Odds of winning the Big Ten: 7.8 percent

Three interesting games: at Pitt -- 43.6 percent predicted chance to win (lose by 2.5 points); at Maryland -- 42.4 percent predicted chance to win (lose by 2.9 points); vs. Nebraska -- 61.2 percent predicted chance to win (win by 4.4 points)

Synopsis: The Hawkeyes definitely seem to be a difficult team to figure out when it comes to the stats. They're favored against Nebraska but are underdogs to Maryland and Pitt -- which, yes, is a little head-scratching. In another key matchup, Iowa is predicted to beat Iowa State by 10.2 points.






Minnesota Golden Gophers

Strength of schedule: 53

Projected overall record: 5.48 wins, 6.53 losses

Projected conference record: 2.72 wins, 5.28 losses

Odds of winning the Big Ten: 0.4 percent

Three interesting games: vs. Northwestern -- 46.3 percent predicted chance to win (lose by 1.4 points); at Illinois -- 45.2 percent predicted chance to win (lose by 1.8 points); vs. Iowa -- 37.8 percent predicted chance to win (lose by 4.8 points)

Synopsis: The numbers certainly don't like the Gophers. They're favored in just one conference game -- against Purdue -- and Stats & Info doesn't give them better than a 15 percent chance to beat Michigan, Ohio State or Wisconsin.






Nebraska Cornhuskers

Strength of schedule: 64

Projected overall record: 7.61 wins, 4.53 losses

Projected conference record: 4.57 wins, 3.43 losses

Odds of winning the Big Ten: 4.5 percent

Three interesting games: vs. Miami (Fla.) -- 47.7 percent predicted chance to win (lose by 1 point); at Northwestern -- 47.74 percent predicted chance to win (lose by 1 point); at Wisconsin -- 27.6 percent predicted chance to win (lose by 9.2 points)

Synopsis: For one of the experts' favorites to win the division, its Stats & Info odds of winning the conference sure seem low. That being said, these numbers will be updated every week -- so it stands to reason these will change in the Huskers' favor in the future. If they don't? Saddle up for a disappointing season.






Northwestern Wildcats

Strength of schedule: 49

Projected overall record: 6.59 games, 5.50 losses

Projected conference record: 3.96 wins, 4.04 losses

Odds of winning the Big Ten: 2.6 percent

Three interesting games: vs. Nebraska -- 52.6 percent predicted chance to win (win by 1 point); at Iowa -- 33.4 percent predicted chance to win (lose by 6.6 points); at Notre Dame -- 28.2 percent predicted chance to win (lose by 8.9 points)

Synopsis: When the Wildcats are underdogs, all of the projected scores are within nine points of one another. As a matter of fact, regardless of the favorite, all but one game (Western Illinois) is projected to be decided by less than 11 points. Close games didn't work out well for the Wildcats last season but, if these projected spreads are to be believed, Northwestern should have a chance to make up for that this season.






Purdue Boilermakers

Strength of schedule: 57

Projected overall record: 3.56 wins, 8.44 losses

Projected conference record: 1.29 wins, 6.71 losses

Odds of winning the Big Ten: 0 percent

Three interesting games: vs. Central Michigan -- 55.2 percent predicted chance to win (win by 2 points); at Illinois -- 23.3 percent predicted chance to win (lose by 11.2 points); vs. Northwestern -- 24.3 predicted chance to win (lose by 10.8 points)

Synopsis: Of the 129 teams that were rated, only 10 were ranked lower than Purdue. It's clear the Boilermakers have a lot of issues, and they weren't given better than a 1-in-4 shot to win any of their given conference games. But at least they're favored in their first two games, against Western Michigan and Central Michigan.






Wisconsin Badgers

Strength of schedule: 63

Projected overall record: 9.29 wins, 3.23 losses

Projected conference record: 5.89 wins, 2.11 losses

Odds of winning the Big Ten: 21.9 percent

Three interesting games: vs. LSU (neutral field) -- 36.3 percent predicted chance to win (lose by 4.5 points); vs. Nebraska -- 72.4 percent predicted chance to win (win by 9.2 points); at Iowa -- 54.1 percent predicted chance to win (win by 1.6 points)

Synopsis: Sure, LSU is favored in the season opener. But, after that, ESPN Stats & Info has the Badgers favored in every other game -- and, with the exception of the Iowa contest, they're the favorites by at least 62 percent. Wisconsin was also given a 0.96 percent chance to win out, which sounds low but means the Badgers are the team with the 12th-highest odds to win out. (Florida State is No. 1 -- by more than 27 percentage points over the No. 2 -- with 40.33 percent.)

Josh Moyer | email

Penn State/Big Ten reporter

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