Hot Reads: The Slow Slide
Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Hot Reads: The Slow Slide

October 18, 2017

Say what you will about computer rankings, I happen to like them. Are they perfect? No. We actually don’t want perfect computer rankings. If you could just pull up Sagarin and see which team was always going to win every game, what fun would that be?

But computer rankings are – or at least should be – consistent. As long as the inputs remains the same, it gives you way to take a quick look at program trajectory over the years.

And what a few computer rankings are saying about Nebraska since joining the Big Ten ain’t good. You probably already knew that, but it’s still somewhat jarring to pull it all together.

I noticed this week that Nebraska was ranked 74th in Bill Connelly’s S&P+ rankings. That’s a ranking system that I’ve probably looked at each week for about three years now, and while it’s based only on recollection I would guess that’s the lowest the Huskers have been in that ranking system.

That led me to pulling up the year-end rankings for Nebraska in the Big Ten era in the three rankings I look at the most: S&P+, Sagarin and FEI. The 2017 season isn’t over yet, of course, but right now it’s very much a part of overall trend. While there are some small differences year to year in the rankings, they’re all showing the same basic thing.


That 2013 team is the one that doesn’t fit the picture of a gradual falling off, and it’s sort of a strange one. The Huskers went 9-4 that season, but it’s average scoring margin was only plus-seven at the end of the year and three of the four losses were by two scores or more.

The remaining years all sort of fit what Nebraska’s Big Ten era has felt like — a slow slide from national relevance. And if you're wondering what things looked like pre-Big Ten, from 2005 (as far bask as S&P+ is available) to 2010, there were 18 individual rankings from the three systems listed above. The Huskers were top 40 in 15 of those rankings.

Anyway, happy Wednesday. This is what happens when you look stuff up.

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