Big Ten: 2014 Big Ten preseason projections

Sometimes, math is fun -- and today is one of those days.

Based on our preseason Football Power Index (FPI), ESPN Stats & Info came up with projections for conference and overall records, in addition to the odds for specific games and winning the conference. One thing to note, as well: The projected overall wins and losses won't always add up to 12.

We covered the West Division on Monday. So, without further ado, here is the East:

Indiana Hoosiers

Strength of schedule: 45

Projected overall record: 7.03 wins, 5.01 losses

Projected conference record: 4.01 wins, 3.99 losses

Odds of winning the Big Ten: 1.8 percent

Three interesting games: vs. Michigan State – 49.9 percent predicted chance to win; vs. Penn State – 62.8 percent predicted chance to win (win by 5 points); at Michigan – 24.6 percent predicted chance to win (lose by 10.6 points)

Synopsis: It’s safe to say Hoosiers fans would take this projected record, since 7-5 would be Indiana’s best record since at least 2007. Indiana was favored over both Maryland and Rutgers, but the most surprising matchup was definitely Michigan State. Somehow, the Hoosiers were only slight underdogs as the numbers gave them a chance that nearly amounts to a coin-flip.

 




Maryland Terrapins

Strength of schedule: 26

Projected overall record: 6.42 wins, 5.60 losses

Projected conference record: 3.47 wins, 4.53 losses

Odds of winning the Big Ten: 1.3 percent

Three interesting games: vs. Iowa – 57.6 percent predicted chance to win (win by 2.9 points); at Penn State – 45.7 percent predicted chance to win (lose by 1.7 points); vs. Michigan State – 49.3 percent predicted chance to win (lose by 0.3 points)

Synopsis: The Terps are favored in their first four games, all of which are nonconference matchups, but it gets a lot more difficult after that. If Maryland can end up making it to a bowl, it’ll be a huge positive. But, according to these numbers, they might wind up right on the bubble.

 




Michigan Wolverines

Strength of schedule: 44

Projected overall record: 8.87 wins, 3.35 losses

Projected conference record: 5.45 wins, 2.55 losses

Odds of winning the Big Ten: 12.7 percent

Three interesting games: at Notre Dame – 54.7 percent predicted chance to win (win by 1.8 points); at Michigan State – 52.4 percent predicted chance to win (win by 0.9 points); at Ohio State – 29 percent predicted chance to win (lose by 8.6 points)

Synopsis: The numbers here really like the Wolverines, as they’re favored in the first 11 games. (The lone exception on the season, of course, is Game No. 12 against Ohio State.) Michigan will hope to avoid déjà vu in the opener by pounding Appalachian State, unlike in 2007. The odds of a Michigan loss to the Mountaineers this time around are about 167 to 1.

 




Michigan State Spartans

Strength of schedule: 52

Projected overall record: 7.79 wins, 4.32 losses

Projected conference record: 4.72 wins, 3.28 wins

Odds of winning the Big Ten: 5.9 percent

Three interesting games: at Oregon – 9.9 percent predicted chance to win (lose by 19.9 points); at Indiana – 50.1 percent predicted chance to win; at Maryland – 50.7 percent chance to win (win by 0.3 points)

Synopsis: If sportsbooks started using these odds, something tells me there would be quite an avalanche of bets on Michigan State. For one reason or another, the Spartans just aren’t getting much love here. The Wolverines are actually projected to win more games. Overall, Michigan State is favored in nine contests but is only a 55-percent favorite or better in six of those. ESPN Stats & Info plans to update these numbers once the season starts, so it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to think these odds will end up changing in the Spartans’ favor. But, for now, the odds just don’t like MSU.

 




Ohio State Buckeyes

Strength of schedule: 38

Projected overall record: 10.46 wins, 2.15 losses

Projected conference record: 6.46 wins, 1.54 losses

Odds of winning the Big Ten: 40.9 percent

Three interesting games: at Penn State – 76.7 percent predicted chance to win (win by 11.2 points); at Michigan State – 65.7 percent predicted chance to win (win by 6.2 points); vs. Michigan – 71 percent predicted chance to win (win by 8.6 points)

Synopsis: Only three teams in the nation -- Florida State, Oregon, Marshall -- are projected to win more games than the Buckeyes. So, once again, Ohio State is favored to win the Big Ten and do big things on a national scale. It’s given a 7.6 percent chance to win out, and it’s favored by at least 65 percent in every game it plays.

 




Penn State Nittany Lions

Strength of schedule: 50

Projected overall record: 6.85 wins, 5.15 losses

Projected conference record: 3.57 wins, 4.43 losses

Odds of winning the Big Ten: 0 percent

Three interesting games: vs. UCF (neutral field) – 51.8 percent predicted chance to win (win by 0.6 points); at Michigan – 21.1 percent predicted chance to win (lose by 12.4 points); at Indiana – 37.2 percent predicted chance to win (lose by 5 points)

Synopsis: Expectations are varied for the Nittany Lions, but the numbers favor them in eight individual games. (The reason the projected record is lower because they’re narrow favorites in several matchups). If PSU can finish with seven wins, it should be a positive season for the program. On a side note, against newcomers Rutgers and Maryland, the Lions are favored by less than two points.

 




Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Strength of schedule: 20

Projected overall record: 4.81 wins, 7.19 losses

Projected conference record: 2.30 wins, 5.70 losses

Odds of winning the Big Ten: 0.1 percent

Three interesting games: at Washington State – 33.1 percent predicted chance to win (lose by 6.8 points); vs. Penn State – 47 percent predicted chance to win (lose by 1.1 points); at Maryland – 27.7 percent predicted chance to win (lose by 9.2 points)

Synopsis: Rutgers has the hardest schedule in the conference, according to ESPN Stats & Info, which might explain why it’s the only team in the division to be projected to win fewer than six games. The odds it wins the Big Ten are 1,000 to 1, and it’s favored in just two matchups – against FCS Howard and Tulane.
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.)

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