Hot Reads: What the Predictive Rankings Say about Huskers-Badgers
Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Hot Reads: What the Predictive Rankings Say about Huskers-Badgers

November 12, 2019

There wasn't a ton to see in Nebraska's movement in the predictive power rankings with the Huskers off last week, but in the interest of completeness I'm going to post the chart anyway.

The Huskers gained three-tenths of a point in FPI but remained at 59th and lost less than a point at Sagarin, dropping to 62nd. At SP+, however, Nebraska dropped seven spots and its ranking–meant to be read as this team is X points better than the average team––dropped 2.1 points. Ranked 50th with a ranking of 3.7 a week ago, Nebraska is now 57th with a 1.6 based on what other teams did last week.

It's the first time this season that Nebraska's SP+ rating and ranking have dropped below the 3.4/56th it had at the end of the 2018 season.

Here's the full, season-long journey in each of those three predictive rankings, then we'll look at what they're saying about Nebraska-Wisconsin.


The Nebraska-Wisconsin line opened at Badgers -12.5 or -13 depending on when and where you got it. As of Tuesday morning, it was up to Wisconsin -14 or -14.5.

FPI – No. 11 Wisconsin (19.9) at No. 59 Nebraska (1.0)
Using a 2.5-point home-field adjustment, FPI puts this line at Wisconsin -16.4. with an 85.9% win probability for the Badgers.

SP+ – No. 11 Wisconsin (21.3) at No. 57 Nebraska (1.6)
Same 2.5-point home field-adjustment puts this one at Badgers -17.2.

Sagarin – No. 7 Wisconsin (92.72) at No. 62 Nebraska (70.51)
This system uses a 3-point home field advantage, but Sagarin's a little higher on Wisconsin and lower on Nebraska than the others, leaving the line at Badgers -19.2.

Broadening the scope beyond just those three ranking systems, The Prediction Tracker currently has 48 projections in for this game. Just six of 48 rankings tracked there have a projected line less than Wisconsin -14.

One has the game under Badgers -10. The Billingsley Report puts it at Wisconsin -9.84. If that name sounds familiar that's because the Billingsley Report was one of the ranking systems used in the BCS.

So, what is it seeing that other systems aren't? Wish I could tell you. About the most I know about the Billingsley Report is what the NCAA Record Book tells me. "The main feature of his system is the inclusion of a unique rule for head-to-head competition, with the overall system consisting of a balanced approach to wins, losses, strength of schedule, and home-field advantage. A slight weight is given to most recent performance."

Curious about that "unique rule" now. (Maybe I should write a book about the BCS.) Whatever it is, it has produced the closest prediction yet for Nebraska-Wisconsin despite having the Badgers ranked 17th and Huskers 84th.

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