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Machine Learning: Predicting The Big 10 Weekend Slate for Week 1

Want to beat Vegas in the Big Ten? Here’s what the math says. Bizarro Math, that is.

NCAA Football: Big Ten Championship-Northwestern at Ohio State
The Big Ten has loads of early week action in week 1.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

What Is This?

BizarroMath is a self-indulgent moniker for a predictive statistical algorithm I developed during the offseason, based on a prior iteration known as the Super Prediction Action Machine. If you want more information, we did a whole series of posts about it a few weeks ago.

The plan is to post these predictions on BHGP each week before the weekend slate of Big 10 games, including a recap of how well the algorithm did the prior week. Based on what we see, I’ll make tweaks next offseason.

With that in mind, let’s take a look as how the machine did during Week 0 and what it thinks about the upcoming Week 1 action.

All lines courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.

Overall Record

Coming into Week 1, the machine is 1-1 ATS and 1-1 on the O/U. Not great, Bob. Not great.

Week 0 Recap

Saturday, Aug. 27 , 2022

Nebraska “at” Northwestern

Vegas Said: NE -13, O/U 49.5

BizarroMath Said: NE -23.32 (NE cover - WRONG!), O/U 50.44 (over - RIGHT!)

One Sentence Recap: There are no words.

Wyoming at Illinois

Vegas Said: IL -10, O/U 44

BizarroMath Said: IL (-14.23, IL cover - RIGHT!), O/U 39.18 (under, WRONG!)

One Sentence Recap: I didn’t get to see much of this game but what I did see was an Illinois team that somehow looked both flat and jittery at the same time yet still managed to double up the spread.

Week 1 Action

Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022

Penn State at Purdue

Vegas Says: PSU -3.5, O/U 53.5

BizarroMath Says: PSU -2.48 (Purdue cover), O/U 38.26 (under)

One Sentence Prediction: I’m excited when my math and the Vegas lines are pretty close but that O/U disparity is appallingly large, so I guess the machine thinks this game is going to feature a lot of defense?

New Mexico State at Minnesota

Vegas Says: MN -36, O/U 53

BizarroMath Says: MN -39.33 (MN cover), O/U 60.86 (over)

One Sentence Prediction: It’s difficult to imagine the Gilded Rodents not dominating in this game, but they have tended to play down to their competition and we’ve seen them struggle mightily with many inferior opponents, so don’t be surprised if this is more of a struggle than the data (or common sense) suggest.

Friday, Sept. 2, 2022

Illinois at Indiana

Vegas Says: IN -1.5, O/U 46

BizarroMath Says: IL -10.48 (Illinois cover), O/U 40.61 (under)

One Sentence Prediction: I’m with the Machine on this one, in that I find Vegas’s spread a little baffling and expect Illinois to win handily, but then again, those guys in the desert usually know what they’re doing.

Western Michigan at Michigan State

Vegas Says: MSU -21, O/U 54.5

BizarroMath Says: MSU -22.98 (MSU cover), O/U 65.02 (over)

One Sentence Prediction: You know, SPAM hated the Spartans last year and doesn’t think much of them this year, so the Broncos must be REALLY down in 2022 for the Machine to call an MSU cover here, apparently expecting nobody to play any defense.

Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022

Colorado State at Michigan

Vegas Says: MI -30.5, O/U 62

BizarroMath Says: MI -36.74 (MI cover), O/U 58.44 (under)

One Sentence Prediction: I’d actually be hitting the over on this one due to the QB situation, which is bound to have Michigan wanting to get the offense out on the highway and open ‘er up to see what they’ve got.

Buffalo at Maryland

Vegas Says: MD -24, O/U 64.5

BizarroMath: MD -18.79 (Buffalo cover), O/U 65.48 (over)

One Sentence Prediction: The Machine is apparently not expecting a lot of defense out of the paunchy midsection of the Big 10 East, and in this matchup, I’m inclined to agree.

Notre Dame v. Ohio State

Vegas Says: OSU -17, O/U 59

BizarroMath: OSU -5.38 (Notre Dame cover), O/U 63.05 (over)

One Sentence Prediction: I dislike Notre Dame as much as any decent American, but I’ve been a little baffled at OSU’s two-digit margin here, and was not at all surprised to find that the math is calling this closer, even with OSU’s absurdly potent offense.

Rutgers at Boston College

Vegas Says: n/a

BizarroMath: BC -2.33, O/U 38.21

One Sentence Prediction: It has been a given in the preseason talk that Rutgers will take a step back this year, and since my numbers are based on last year’s data, this projection may be a bit tinged with Scarlet, but DEAR GOD ALICE, the machine expects awful football with that 38.21 expected O/U.

South Dakota State at Iowa

Vegas Says: n/a

One Sentence Prediction: This game is going to be like getting a cavity filled: a little painful at first, quickly followed by numbness and the inability to speak intelligibly, and although you’ll be really glad when it’s over, you’re still going to feel pretty lousy about it.

North Dakota at Nebraska

Vegas Says: n/a

One Sentence Prediction: This is about as close to a must-watch P5-FCS matchup as there’s ever been, and, if you’re a Nebraska fan, it’s for terrifying reasons.

Illinois State at Wisconsin

Vegas Says: n/a

One Sentence Prediction: The best thing that can happen here is nothing interesting.

The Fine Print

Data Source: The betting lines are from DraftKings. Depending on your degenerate web site of choice, your mileage may vary.
Gambling Caveat: I do not bet on sports. I run these numbers because I’m a nerd who loves math and football and this is my idea of fun. This should go without saying, but if you do bet, you should do so based on your own independent assessment, not the half-baked statistical musings of an Internet rando.

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See for details.