Hot Reads: An Update on Nebraska's Season Win Projections
Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Hot Reads: An Update on Nebraska’s Season Win Projections

September 18, 2018

The way I'll remember the offseason, which isn't to say is the way it actually was, is as one of modest predictions for Nebraska. Coming off a 4-8 2017 season, nobody doubted that the Huskers had gotten an offseason coaching upgrade, but combine a tough schedule with the fact that statistical models are always going to have a tough time accounting for offseason coaching upgrades and most of the algorithms had Nebraska topped out at about .500, 6-6 against a 12-game schedule.

Those models almost certainly weren't accounting for two losses in the first three weeks. Colorado and Troy were games where Nebraska was projected to be a favorite, and the Huskers were. Akron would've been one of those games, too, had it been played.

With the Huskers at 0-2, what are some of those models saying now for a season win total? Here's a quick recap of some of the key ones.

FPI: ESPN's prediction model had Nebraska at 5.5 wins entering the season. The FPI rankings have the Huskers at 72nd after Week 3, -1.3 points worse than an average team on a neutral field. Those rankings, and that projected margin, are what goes into the game-by-game win probabilities, which gives you a team's remaining record.

And Nebraska's projected record at the end of the year is 2.3-8.7. Per FPI, the Huskers have a greater-than-50-percent win probability in two games right now –– 51.6 against Purdue in two weeks and 67.4 against Illinois in November.

McIllece Sports: This one's a bit unique in that there's not a ton of background data, but McIllece had Nebraska at four expected wins coming into the year. It's now down to one.

Massey Ratings: Massey was a bit unique in that it came into the season viewing the Colorado and Troy games as closer games, based on win probabilities, than most of the other rankings. With the Huskers at 0-2, Massey rates Nebraska 81st this week with 2.3 wins predicted the rest of the way.

S&P+: This is the one that is actually designed to be predictive and is thus the highest on the Huskers right now. Nebraska is ranked 46th here, with a cumulative projected wins of 3.7. That's the sum of Nebraska's game-by-game win probabilities, and since there are no seven-tenths of a win it gets rounded up for a 4-7 record at season's end.

What's interesting here is that Nebraska has projected wins against Northwestern and Minnesota, which you aren't likely to find anywhere else, in addition to Purdue and Illinois.

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