What wins Big Ten football Games? pt 1: Homefield Advantage

BSD: Bumped for effort...

So I was thinking about the 2010 Michigan State game for some reason.  In that game, Penn State had over 60 more yards, fewer turnovers, more points off turnovers, and was playing at home.  PSU had more scores (4, 3 TD and 1 FG) than MSU had red zone trips (3).  Both PSU and MSU had 3 red zone trips.  PSU trailed by double digits most of the game and lost. 

Sure, there were a couple questionable spots that resulted in MSU first downs (MSU also only had 1 more first down, 21-20), and yes, I do believe that if PSU recovers the onside kick at the end of the game that PSU wins.  This fails to explain the fact that MSU was up by double digits most of the game.  This fails to explain the fact that PSU needed late-game heroics by McGloin (yes, it happened) and Moye just to make it interesting.

It got me thinking: what wins Big Ten football games?

This is the first in what I hope will be a several part series examining the relevant factors (be they stats in the game or external factors such as homefield, Senior starters, who won last year, etc) in winning Big Ten games.  Today we look at homefield advantage.

Stats are taken from the last 4 seasons, and only "true" home games are considered (PSU beating Indiana in DC...not so much).  The number for the Big Ten in general is first, the number for PSU specifically is in parenthesis:

Win% of home team: 55.5% (68.75%)

Avg. MOV when home team wins: 16.23 (19.45)
Avg. MOV when home team loses: 13.33 (14.48)
Homefield advantage is worth: 2.95 points

The following is the ranking of homefield advantage of each Big Ten team in terms of win% at home minus win% overall in Big Ten games:

1. Wisconsin: +18.75% at home

2. Iowa / Purdue: +9.375%

4. Indiana: +7.92%

5. Michigan State: +6.25%

6. Penn State / Illinois: +3.125%

8. Minnesota / Ohio State / Michigan: +0% at home

11. Northwestern: -3.33% at home



--Homefield advantage is for real.  It gives the home team a more than 5% boost in its chances to win.  It also gives the home team about a FG advantage over playing at a neutral field.

--It's not the size, it's how you use it that counts.  Penn State, Ohio State, and Michigan are all below average homefield advantages, at least in terms of win%.  Did you see that coming? I did not.

--Northwestern really is actually better on the road.

--Camp Randall should have a sign above the visitors' locker room that says "ABANDON HOPE ALL YE WHO ENTER HERE."  Twice the homefield advantage of the 2nd best homefield advantage in the league.

--When PSU wins at home, PSU wins bigger than most Big Ten teams.  When PSU loses at home, PSU doesn't keep it as close as other Big Ten teams.  Odd.  Close games just don't happen at Beaver Stadium.

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