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BizarroMath Previews Iowa’s 2022 Schedule: The November Games + Division and Conference Championship Odds

It all comes down to this! How does the BizarroMath model see the Hawkeyes closing out the season in 2022?

Wales Daily Life 2022
We’re back for our final round of Bizarro Math!
Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

If you missed it, check out the prior stories in this series here:

Retrospective Ambivalence

BizarroMath Previews Iowa’s 2022 Schedule: The September Games

BizarroMath Previews Iowa’s 2022 Schedule: The October Games

BizarroMath Models The November Games

At long last, the carousel of chaos accelerates to breakneck speed as the round-robin of B1G West games involving real contenders enters the home stretch. The Division is, of course, won and lost in November. Given the hurdles the Hawkeyes have to clear, being in contention at the beginning of November would be a major accomplishment.

Let’s see what we’re up against.

@Purdue (Nov. 5, 2022)

Purdue currently holds the longest regular season winning streak over Iowa among all Big 10 teams. That streak is:


I’ve heard a number of talking heads on various Big 10 podcasts using the S-word to describe 2021 Purdue: “sustainability.” Just as Iowa can’t keep winning without an offense, surely Purdue can’t keep winning in the Big 10 without a ground attack?

The numbers say otherwise. The machine liked what it saw out of the Boilermakers last year (and, since it doesn’t differentiate between ground and air offense, you can see why) and looks forward to more of the same. Purdue’s offense last year was good for OA 32.38 PPG, 457.6 YPG, and a clip of 6.30 YPP. It’s defense was good, even by Big 10 standards, giving up an OA 17.32 PPG, 333.23 YPG, and 5.25 YPP.

The matchup is close. The machine has this one looking a lot like the 2020 game: a tight, low-scoring affair in which many sphincters pucker. With Iowa projected to score 19.00, and Purdue, 22.60, the Trains are favored by 3.61 at home, which translates to a 44.21% chance of a Hawkeye victory. But I’m calling a 2018-type barnburner instead. This thing is going off the rails.

It will be tragic to watch Charlie Jones and Tyrone Tracy, Jr. in the wrong shades of black and gold lighting up our secondary with Northwestern-like mid-range efficiency, but Purdue will get its yards. But, so will Iowa, whose offensive line should be rounding into form by this point in the season. It’ll be a squeaker, but in Phil we trust, and after a late 4th quarter Iowa touchdown to take a 1-point lead, Parker’s Posse puts any pretention of Purdue finding pay dirt to rest.

BizzaroMath: Iowa 19.00, Purdue 22.60 (Purdue +3.61)

BizzaroMax: Iowa 31, Purdue 30

Wisconsin (Nov. 12, 2022)

When we last saw the Badgers at Kinnick, it was at the tail end of the pandemic year and Goodson was running all over them. The Badgers had failed to cash in on several easy touchdowns and were thoroughly trounced by an Iowa team that probably wasn’t as good as it looked that day.

Since the fake punt in 2010, the Hawks have beaten Wisconsin just twice, though almost all of the games have been competitive. The 2015 team upset the Badgers on the road in a gross, turnover-plagued affair that Wisconsin should have won, and then there was 2020, all of which gets an asterisk due to COVID-19.

Iowa has been competitive in most of these games, but seemingly never able to shut the door on the Badgers. Whether due to uncharacteristically porous run defense, uncharacteristically poor ball security, garden variety boneheaded playcalling, the obscure rule in the NCAA playbook stating that nothing a Wisconsin offensive lineman does can ever be flagged for holding, or every mediocre Wisconsin quarterback having his career best day against Iowa, something always seems to derail this game.

Wisconsin fielded a fair offense last year, scoring OA 33.13 PPG, gaining 414.56 YPG, and moving the ball at a clip of 6.03 YPP. On defense, the Badgers were even better than Iowa, giving up just 13.62 PPG and 232.60 YPG, with opponents moving the ball at just 4.03 YPG. The math works out to a typical Iowa-Wisconsin slobberknocker. The box projects Iowa to score just 16.38 points against Wisconsin, and the Badgers to score 21.29 against Iowa. The 4.91 Badger advantage gives Iowa a win chance of 42.13%.

I’m reversing a lot of trends this year and calling for an Iowa upset, in a very 2015-like affair that doesn’t really satisfy us as fans because, as you’ll see, it winds up being an irrelevant footnote to a forgettable season.

BizarroMath: Iowa 16.38, Wisconsin 21.29 (Wisconsin +4.03)

BizarroMax: Iowa 14 (no touchdowns; 4 field goals and a safety), Wisconsin 13

@Minnesota(Nov. 19, 2022)

Everybody agrees that Minnesota is the worst. Worst team in the conference, worst fans, just awful. Despite that, they had no business losing to Iowa last year. Neither the Gopher defense nor offense were remarkable, though the defense was the better of the two. On offense, the Gilded Rodents were statistically similar to Iowa after opponent adjustments: 29.36 PPG, 381.29 YP, and 5.76 YPP. On defense, they likewise held their own: 17.75 PPG, 285.15 YPG, and 4.95 PPG.

Playing what is basically its doppelganger in America’s Lakiest State, Iowa is projected to score just 18.92 points to the Muskrats’ 21.29. This matchup is virtually identical to the Wisconsin game except for the change in home field advantage. The Gophers’ 2.37 spread means an Iowa win chance of 46.20%.

I’m calling this near-coin flip to come up Rodents, continuing my anti-trend. After the less-cathartic-than-we-expected win over Wisconsin that keeps Iowa on life support in the Division race, the Hawkeyes do the polite thing and hand it right back. Minnesota Nice.

BizarroMath: Iowa 18.92, Minnesota 21.29 (Minnesota +2.37)

BizarroMax: Iowa 24, Minnesota 30

Nebraska (Nov. 25, 2022)

I could write a lot about Nebraska, but I’m not going to just yet. I have a special data project for Iowa-Nebraska to explain my pick, which I’m going to save for Nebraska week. For now, I’ll get the projections out there so I can’t be accused of making it up later if I’m right. Suffice it to say, I hope I’m not right.

BizarroMath: Iowa 20.51, Nebraska 22.44 (Nebraska +1.94)

BizarroMax: Iowa 27, Nebraska 34

The Championship Race

The math has Iowa as a dog in every game in November, but a lot of those games are coin flips and we know Iowa has been really good at winning those. I have Iowa going 2-2 in November, which works out to an unremarkable 7-5 season in which Iowa beats Wisconsin but it doesn’t matter.

It could go down that way, but it doesn’t have to. There’s always a chance. In addition to projecting game outcomes, BizarroMath simulates the entire Big 10 conference schedule one million times to figure out who most likely wins each division, and who most likely wins the conference championship game.

The envelope, please!

Division Champions

Although the flapping heads in sports journalism can be fairly accused of mindlessly picking Wisconsin every year, BizarroMath happens to agree this year, and awards the Badgers the top spot and a 33.92% chance of winning the B1G West. Purdue comes in second at 23.22%. Popping in for a surprise visit in 3rd place is Nebraska (13.47%), followed by the Loathesome Gophers (11.17%). Iowa trails a distant fifth (7.10%), with Illinois checking in with a puncher’s chance at 1.81%. Northwestern isn’t on the map.

In the East, the Division favorite is Ohio State (41.57%), but barely. Michigan is right behind the Buckeyes at 39.98% chance, but the odds fall off greatly from there. Penn State clocks in at 11.62%, and Michigan State holds the four spot at a mere 1.70% chance. SPAM didn’t believe in the Spartans last year and BizarroMath doesn’t believe in them this year. None of rest of the East has a shot.

B1G Championship Game Scenarios

In term conference championship matchups, interestingly enough, the most likely game is Michigan v. Wisconsin. How? Why? If Ohio State is favored to win the East, how is Michigan projected to return? Simple: schedule. Ohio State plays Wisconsin and Michigan doesn’t. There are a number of scenarios where Wisconsin gets to the B1G Championship game and beats Ohio State en route, which makes it harder for Ohio State to get there. Here’s the top 5 most likely scenarios and their odds:

14.63% - Michigan v. Wisconsin

12.58% - Ohio State v. Wisconsin

10.20% - Ohio State v. Purdue

9.41 % - Michigan vs. Purdue

6.12% - Ohio State vs. Nebraska

That’s right. Nebraska. Don’t laugh. Yet.

Footnote, the first scenario in which Iowa is present is the #10 most likely scenario, an OSU-Iowa rematch (2.90% chance).

The Conference Winner

Finally, BizarroMath also simulates who wins the championship game itself (in any scenario) to project the odds for each team to win the league. The odds are as follows:

#1. Ohio State (32.24%)

#2. Michigan (28.07%)

#3. Wisconsin (9.44%)

#4. Penn State (5.94%)

#5. Purdue (4.54%)

#6. Nebraska (2.65%)

#7. Minnesota (1.46%0

#8. Iowa (0.88%)

#9. Michigan State (0.77%)

#10. Illinois (0.07%)

Nobody else has a realistic chance, though I did spot one Iowa-Rutgers rematch in Indianapolis in the data.

So there you have it! As the season wears on and we have REAL DATA about these teams, I will update these numbers. I’m not expecting huge changes for the first 3-4 weeks. For one, there isn’t enough data to do any opponent-adjustments, which is especially important for early-season games featuring an FCS opponent and a non-P5 opponent. Second, the algorithm will still weight last year heavily until we get a bit into the conference schedule. But by the end of week 4, we’ll have some idea of if and how much these teams have changed since last year.

I’ll update the numbers and projections each week and provide a little write-up, and we can see who is worse at this: me, or statistics. Thanks for reading!