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After three NFL seasons of kicking off from the 35-yard line, what has been the impact on touchbacks, returns, field position, scoring and injuries? Also, is this rule responsible for a record number of big comebacks?

17 Oct 2007

Fremeau Efficiency Index: Week 7

by Brian Fremeau

The Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) principles and methodology can be found here. Like DVOA, FEI rewards playing well against good teams, win or lose, and punishes losing to poor teams more harshly than it rewards defeating poor teams. Unlike DVOA, it is drive-based, not play-by-play based, and it is specifically engineered to measure the college game.

FEI is the opponent-adjusted value of Game Efficiency, a measurement of the success rate of a team scoring and preventing opponent scoring throughout the non-garbage-time possessions of a game. Like DVOA, it represents a team's efficiency value over average.

Only games between FBS (Division 1-A) teams are considered. The Week 7 Ratings represent the results of all games played through Sunday, October 14, 2007.


Rank Team W-L FEI GE GE Rank
1 LSU (6-1) 0.311 0.281 8
2 South Florida (5-0) 0.305 0.212 13
3 Auburn (5-2) 0.246 0.146 23
4 Kentucky (5-1) 0.227 0.129 25
5 Oklahoma (6-1) 0.227 0.306 5
6 Oregon (5-1) 0.224 0.280 9
7 Florida (3-2) 0.223 0.127 26
8 West Virginia (5-1) 0.218 0.332 3
9 California (5-1) 0.217 0.152 21
10 South Carolina (5-1) 0.206 0.069 35
11 Kansas (5-0) 0.198 0.386 2
12 Arizona State (7-0) 0.188 0.289 7
Rank Team W-L FEI GE GE Rank
13 Ohio State (6-0) 0.184 0.407 1
14 Kansas State (3-2) 0.183 0.105 28
15 Cincinnati (5-1) 0.175 0.232 12
16 Boston College (6-0) 0.174 0.250 10
17 Missouri (4-1) 0.150 0.174 20
18 BYU (4-2) 0.146 0.140 24
19 Illinois (4-2) 0.138 0.102 29
20 Florida State (4-2) 0.138 0.085 32
21 Tennessee (4-2) 0.133 0.062 37
22 Georgia Tech (3-3) 0.132 0.061 39
23 Penn State (5-2) 0.126 0.193 14
24 Arkansas (2-3) 0.124 0.109 27
25 Virginia (6-1) 0.114 0.053 40

Click here for rankings of all 119 teams.

We have reached halftime of the 2007 college football season, the bands are trotting out onto the field, and most fans across the country are just trying to catch their breath. Four big-time programs -- USC, LSU, Oklahoma, and Florida -- appeared virtually unstoppable in late-September and then dropped a combined five games in three weeks, three to previously unranked opponents. Zero AP preseason top ten teams remain unbeaten. At least three teams have recorded their highest poll ranking in decades, if not ever. Three teams each arguably suffered the greatest upset of all time. Are we witnessing the most superlative college football season in history?

Maybe. Or maybe we just need a little more perspective. As shocking as Stanford's defeat of USC on October 6 may have been to everyone from oddsmakers to pollsters, should the ultimate value of an upset be judged exclusively against the expected game result? When the No. 1 team in the country loses to a previously hapless team, what have we learned? Were we more wrong about the strength of the top team or the hapless one? A bit of both? Or were we wrong about neither team, and truly just witnessed something historic?

One of the criticisms of voted polls relates to the notion of poll-anchoring -- individual voters treating previous-week ballots as rigid rankings to be adjusted only as needed once new isolated (upset) results are recorded. USC's fall from the top to midteens in the polls more likely represents a consensus "punishment" for losing to Stanford than it does a revised evaluation of the strength of the Trojan team. Likewise, the ascension of Ohio State and Boston College in the polls can be more heavily attributed to similar punishments doled out to other "upset" victims over the first seven weeks than to the actual merits of the Buckeyes and Eagles.

Computer ranking systems generally do re-evaluate past data along with new data each week, resulting in rankings less stable than the polls, particularly early in the season. The ranking logic of a given computer system is quite stable, however. Many of the computer evaluations of each of USC's results -- almost exclusively recorded against relatively underwhelming competition -- have treated the Trojans less like a victimized elite team and more like the dozens of other teams that populate the top third of college football. As a result, the Stanford loss at this stage in the season measures as an upset, but not necessarily a historically significant one.

What, though, do we make of the seemingly endless series of upsets that have rocked the college landscape in this wild season to date? Kenneth Massey's College Football Ranking Comparison includes more than 100 human and computer ranking system results, and produces an average consensus ranking for each team. Massey calculates a "Ranking Violation Percentage" for the consensus, representing the percentage of games played in which, retrodictively, a lower ranked team defeated a higher ranked team. To date in 2007, the consensus Ranking Violation Percentage is 12.8 percent. Through the first seven weeks in 2006, the consensus Ranking Violation Percentage was 12.6 percent. By this measure, the upset frequency in college football has been severely exaggerated thus far this season by the media. Perhaps at season's end we will be able to view these results in the proper context.

Underrated/Overrated

FEI's most significant differences from the newly-released AP poll and BCS ratings lie with the treatment of zero-loss and two-loss teams. The voter's inclination to elevate undefeated teams and demote two-loss teams based on record alone is a safe decision, if not a particularly thoughtful one. FEI considers some blemished resumes as more impressive than some unblemished ones, for now. If Ohio State and Boston College impress in the coming weeks, I expect them to move up in the rankings. Several poll-underrated and -overrated teams are worth examining further.

Underrated

Auburn (5-2; No. 17 BCS, No. 18 AP, No. 3 FEI)
The Tigers are winners of four straight, have defeated No. 7 Florida, No. 14 Kansas State and No. 24 Arkansas, and suffered single-score losses to No. 2 South Florida and No. 45 Mississippi State. A showdown with No. 1 LSU awaits this weekend, and a victory would put Auburn in the driver's seat for the SEC West title. Regardless of the outcome on Saturday, expect Auburn to be one of several dangerous teams with blemished records in the top 10.

Kansas State (3-2; NR BCS, No. 25 AP, No. 14 FEI)
Losing only to No. 3 Auburn and No. 11 Kansas, Kansas State is primed to steamroll opponents throughout the next month as they did against Colorado and Texas earlier this year, particularly now that Nebraska has fallen of the face of the earth. A November 17 matchup with No. 17 Missouri could have Big12 title game implications if Kansas falters.

Overrated

Texas (5-2; No. 22 BCS, No. 19 AP, No. 37 FEI)
Just as they did last season, Texas has feasted on NCAA bottom-half opposition, and have often looked ordinary in the process. Their explosive offensive games came against No. 116 Rice and No. 110 Iowa State. In the Longhorns' losses to No. 14 Kansas State and No. 5 Oklahoma, they were outscored 69-42. Texas shouldn't face a significant challenge until No. 26 Texas Tech visits on November 10 -- a stretch that will likely inflate their record and ranking to unsustainable levels.

Georgia (5-2; No. 20 BCS, No. 21 AP, No. 38 FEI)
The meat of Georgia's schedule will come down the stretch after an off-date on Saturday, with matchups against No. 7 Florida, No. 3 Auburn, and No. 4 Kentucky all looming in the next month. They played No. 10 South Carolina close, but a beatdown at the hands of No. 21 Tennessee and a near disaster at No. 74 Vanderbilt mark an alarming trend. I don't expect a great final record out of the Bulldogs, but the strength of the SEC will likely keep Georgia's FEI rating from plummeting.

Field Position

I suggested in the FEI Season Preview article two months ago that the change in college football's kickoff yard line from the 35 to the 30 might significantly alter average starting field position and offensive efficiency for all teams. Thus far, average starting field position following kickoff returns has advanced three yards, from a team's own 26-yard line in 2006 to its own 29-yard line in 2007. Overall field position has advanced from a team's own 31-yard line to its own 32-yard line. In several cases, individual team field position results have been much more dramatic.

Illinois (4-2) and Indiana (4-2) each have improved their total field position advantage (the difference between a team's average starting field position and its opponents') by 13 yards per possession from 2006 to 2007, topping all other teams. On the flip side, Rutgers (3-2) and Southern Mississippi (2-3) have given up more than 14 yards in field position advantage per possession since last season. Here are the most advantaged and disadvantaged teams by field position thus far in 2007.

Field Position Advantage (FPA) Through Week 7
TEAM 2007 W-L 2007 FPA
TCU (4-3) 11.0
Ohio State (6-0) 10.4
Georgia Tech (3-3) 10.4
Cincinnati (5-1) 9.2
Vanderbilt (2-3) 8.2
Penn State (5-2) 8.0
East Carolina (4-3) 8.0
Florida State (4-2) 7.9
Michigan (5-1) 7.8
Maryland (3-2) 7.7
... ... ...
North Carolina State (0-5) -7.4
Notre Dame (1-6) -7.7
Oregon State (3-3) -7.9
Pittsburgh (1-4) -8.3
Baylor (2-4) -8.3
Eastern Michigan (1-5) -8.8
New Mexico State (1-4) -9.5
Florida International (0-6) -12.2
Tulane (0-5) -13.0
Southern Mississippi (2-3) -13.6

Good field position is a function of special teams execution, offensive drive sustainability, and protecting the football. As most of the bottom ten on this list can attest, significant field position deficits can be absolutely crippling.

Posted by: Brian Fremeau on 17 Oct 2007

36 comments, Last at 22 Oct 2007, 8:41am by John Grenci

Comments

1
by navin (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 7:11pm

Good stuff, as usual. Maybe this will stop the illogical SEC bashing (but probably not).

2
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 7:27pm

By this measure, the upset frequency in college football has been severely exaggerated thus far this season by the media.

Massey also lists "Most Unlikely Results" from his own ratings (which are just the chance of a team to win, who did win, based on their current rankings, not their prior rankings) and the most unlikely results are much more unlikely than previous years.

The problem with just saying "Hey, only 12.8% of the time did a lower-ranked team beat a higher-ranked team" is that this is dominated by cases where the two teams were closely matched (Kentucky vs. LSU, for instance) whereas the "OMG Bizarro!" factor for this season is when a much lower ranking team beats a higher ranking team.

Keep in mind - when people talk about "lots of upsets", they aren't talking about #79 Eastern Michigan beating #54 Northern Illinois, or something.

3
by James G (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 7:30pm

#1 - I consider it logical SEC bashing. This doesn't take into account home/road. And six, yes six, SEC teams don't even go on the road for OOC. Only Michigan and Kansas also managed that. Then, to top it off, the bowl games are stacked in the SEC's favor, by playing in their home region. Of course, you're conference is going to look good when the deck is stacked like that.

4
by Yinka Double Dare (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 7:41pm

1: I haven't seen so much SEC bashing this year as people annoyed by the irrational exuberance of SEC homers year after year. Someone thought Russell was bashing the SEC for daring to say that we shouldn't assume that the SEC champ is so much better than the Big East champ this year. Seems to me that this is yet another system that thinks South Florida is for real.

I'm always curious as to the opponent adjustments, especially in a situation like college football where so few of the good teams play each other out of conference. I would think there would be a connectivity issue in the data moreso than in the NFL, since the fact that you can beat the crap out of a team like FIU doesn't really tell us much in college football. Is that the part of the system you are tweaking over time? Obviously, last year the #1 and #2 FEI squads got whomped by lower rated teams in the bowls, and I wonder if some of that wasn't an opponent adjustment issue that rated Michigan and OSU too high?

5
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 8:40pm

Am I the only one who thinks if Pat White played the entire West Virginia-USF game, USF loses? West Virginia has been slow starters it seemed all season (at least in all 3 games I have seen-Marshall, Maryland, and USF) and where putting together a good drive when Pat White got hurt....

6
by Jake (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 8:43pm

Duh, the SEC teams are good because they play the tough schedule in the SEC. Why is the schedule tough? Because they play teams that play in the SEC!
The methodology link doesn't really say... what is a "good" team again?

7
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 9:00pm

The SEC as a whole this year played a tough non-conference slate as well. They have played or will play based on these rankings: 2nd, 8th, 9th, 14th, 17th, 19th, 20th, and 22nd team in non-conference play (that's not including Clemson, Wake Forest or Virginia Tech) then consider that 7 of those teams are in the top 25 as well.

8
by Yinka Double Dare (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 9:33pm

7: That's an impressive list, but we can talk about that when they've actually played the games. Of those that they've played so far the SEC teams have a whopping one win over the numbers you listed (though the VaTech beatdown is definitely a point in the SEC's favor -- VaTech may not have a QB worth a damn, but they always have a defense and LSU just killed it).

I think what we'll end up with is what the SEC usually is -- a really good top few teams, a middle that's pulled up by the quality of the top teams and thus ends up overrated, and a bad bottom. Usually the overrated part has a chance to be exposed in the bowls though, and that won't be the case this year in all likelihood -- the Big Ten stinks, some of the most schizophrenic teams I've ever seen in college football. Michigan was brilliant last week, but looked marginal most other games (though some of those offensive performances can be blamed on the training wheels offense they ran with Mallett in there). Penn State waking up periodically only to turn in a stinker another week. Illinois ripping off yards and wins then Zooking one against Iowa. And Ohio State hasn't played anyone at all yet, not even one of the marginal Big Ten teams. They could all show up in the bowls and look great, or the conference could lose every single bowl game they're in this year. Neither would surprise me at this point.

It does make the conference season kinda fun though when you have basically no clue who is going to win week-to-week. I just wish it was with better football teams instead of the motorcade of mediocrity that it is this season.

9
by Chris Heinonen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 9:58pm

Oregon State's awful field position can be attributed to the fact that, during the first week of fall practice, our punter quit the team and we've had to have our place kicker fill in for him. He might have won the Lou Groza award, but that doesn't meant that our punting this year has been anything short of awful, and it's probably affecting his FG kicking as well. It's still amazing to me that we can't find anyone else to fill in and do a better job.

10
by MRH (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 10:33pm

#3 made most of my point, but I'll add:
suffered single-score losses to No. 2 South Florida and No. 45 Mississippi StateAT HOME

If those were narrow road losses, I'd give Auburn a lot more credit. And I'm sure when Auburn scheduled USF they didn't expect USF to be #2 at any point this century. Auburn plays 8 home and 4 road games this year.

When opponents of a playoff system say that it would devalue the regular season, I think they mean devalue it more than it has been already by teams stacking their schedule with lower tier opponents and overloaded home games.

11
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 11:25pm

#

To put it another way: Best non-conference team SEC teams play:

Georgia: Oklahoma State/Georgia Tech
Florida: Florida State
Tennessee: Cal
Kentucky: Louisville
South Carolina: Clemson
Vanderbilt: Wake Forest
Alabama: Florida State
Auburn: South Florida/Kansas State
Arkansas: Troy
Ole Miss: Missouri
Mississippi State: West Virginia
LSU: Virginia Tech

Big Ten
Ohio State: Washington
Michigan: Oregon
Illinois: Missouri
Penn State: Notre Dame
Wisconsin: Washington State
Indiana: Ball State
Northwestern: Nevada…maybe Duke?
Michigan State: Notre Dame/Pitt
Purdue: Notre Dame
Iowa: Iowa State/Syracuse
Minnesota: Miami (Ohio)?

Yeah real murderer’s row..watch out world-here comes the Big Ten and the SEC ducks out on the big games.

SEC is 5-4 right now in those games. Big Ten is: 8-4…thank god for Notre Dame and the MAC

Worst non-conference loss for SEC: Alabama to Florida State

Worst non-conference loss for Big Ten: Appalachian State over Michigan, Iowa State over Iowa, Florida Atlantic over Minnesota, Duke over Northwestern, Miami (OH.) over Minnesota

Best non-conference win for SEC:
LSU over Virginia Tech
Auburn over Kansas State

Best non-conference win for Big Ten:
Ohio State over Washington...though I guess Wisconsin over Washington State and Iowa over Syracuse can be argued as well.

And I agree with the general point. The SEC is overrated by SEC fans, but I think sometimes people overextend themselves to prove that point. They are not full of dominant juggernauts, but they are not ducking non-conference, at least not as bad as compared to other conferences. I do agree SEC teams do duck out of leaving the home stadium, but hey when is the last time Michigan came to a SEC school....and when is the last time a SEC school came to Michigan (one of them happened recently)

12
by blacksuit (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 11:44pm

Most schools make over a million dollars when they play a home game. Why play six home games when you can play eight?

My team is Arkansas (I have no idea why they're top 25 by this measure, but I suppose they do everything but pass pretty well). Our non-conference schedule is laughable, but we play Tennessee, LSU, and Bama (lost) on the road. We host Kentucky (we lost), and Auburn (also lost). At Ole Miss isn't quite as bad, but the overall conference schedule is pretty brutal, and we don't even play Florida, Georgia, or South Carolina.

I'm all for having a tough non-conference game or two (we played USC home and away the last two years, losing both), but the money issue and the depth of the conference motivate teams to schedule cupcake non-conference games.

13
by MRH (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 11:45pm

Re #11 - good research. I'll have to look at all the SEC non-conference games (and I'm not pro-some other conference, so pick on the lame Big 10 schedules all you want). But I don't give FLA, GA, KY, and SC credit for playing thier in-state rivals. Aren't tradition and rivalries what college football is about? I do give LSU and AL full marks for playing VT and FSU (not 'bama's fault FSU is in a down year - that looked a lot harder on paper than USF @ Auburn).

I do think the FEI would be a better indicator if it added a home/road adjustment, but I have no actual data to back that belief.

14
by Crushinator (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 11:55pm

5

Probably. WVU's offense actually improved after White left the game. White was almost totally nonexistant against USF. I keep hearing people say that they'd have one if White stayed the game, but I watched every second of that game and he looked beyond mediocre.

The score was a little bit of an aberration - USF left a lot of points on the field with some stupid turnovers, and had a dropped easy pick 6 on a relatively garbage-time scoring drive by WVU. USF moved the ball at will for almost the entire game, and WVU couldn't do anything to USF's defense.

15
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 11:58pm

Sure, but they I would take off Michigan State playing Notre Dame, Purdue playing Notre Dame, and Iowa playing Iowa State as well....and if Michigan did not have Oregon, I would take their game off as well. The Notre Dame series is not, of course, intrastate rivals-they play each other pretty much every year and consider each other rivals as well.

That being said-it would be nice if Ohio State scheduled Cincinnati every season (I know they played each other recently) and same with the old Penn State-Pittsburgh game as well (though I think that one is coming back)

and I am not sure if Florida State is down or not. Well I guess I should say both Alabama and Florida State are both slightly above average-it was an even match-up at a neutral field (in Florida) and Alabama lost by 7.

16
by hooper (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 11:59pm

Re: SEC fun and frolic

Well, I'm currently attending an SEC school (Tennessee) though I'm born and bred in MWC territory (bachelor's from Wyoming, Go Pokes!). It's made the whole SEC feud a lot of fun to watch, both from the outside and from the inside. I do think there are more considerations than are being mentioned, though.

Regarding the homebody effect of SEC teams not traveling - I've always thought that was pretty common for "major" teams simply due to a revenue issue. They make more money at home games than at away games. Additionally, when a team will fill the stands and get regional (and occasionally national) TV coverage whether they play an OOC "major" or Little Sisters of the Poor, there's very little financial incentive to schedule the "big ones". My one question (help me here if you can) is if it's actually more economical to schedule a small school rather than a big one. For example, if Tennessee brings in UAB, is it a less expensive contract than bringing in Michigan? I ask because I remember Wyoming signing up on home-and-home contracts with big schools, then getting their home game bought out for 6-figure sums. That money was very important to the program.

Besides, scheduling is a zero-sum game. If the big programs only played each other, the little programs would never have the opportunity to prove themselves. For example, if Auburn hadn't settled on a contract with South Florida a few years ago (whodathunkit back in 2003 or whenever?), we wouldn't have that data point to kick around. While I personally wouldn't mind a major OOC game every year, I actually don't like the idea of scheduling a lot of them. Though most big-little games are very predictable, the ones that surprise are worth the wait.

Other than that, comparing the OOC games is tricky; most schools in major programs seek out regional schools - partly for fan interest, partly for bureaucratic connections, and partly for economy of travel. There are always a few exceptions which are often the result of friendships between ADs, but looking at the OOC slate in the link in my name illustrates my point.

Other than that, I think I'll leave the SEC v. the world debate well enough alone. I enjoy the banter, but I just can't get that worked up about it. However, it's always good to know that I can start a Fox-comment-board level of debate simply by starting a post with "The SEC is overrated because ...". That just makes my impish day. :)

Well, since I'm at risk of following the threadjacking, I will say that I really enjoyed the article and the analysis. Anybody who makes a serious attempt at statistically analyzing all 119 college teams has my respect.

17
by mm (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 12:06am

#3 "Then, to top it off, the bowl games are stacked in the SEC’s favor, by playing in their home region."

Don't you think strength of opponents stacks up stronger than 'region'?

If you check out bowl alliances, non-BCS SEC bowl games are against:

Big 10 #2
ACC #2
Big 12 #2/3
Big 10 #3
ACC #5/6/7
Big 12 #7
&
CUSA #1

After you remove teams playing the BCS bowls, the SEC plays 4 teams that are either the best or 2nd best teams from BCS conferences. If the SEC wasn't a deeper conference than those other conferences, you'd expect at least 2 of those to be regular losses every year. (The SEC only has one 'best' or '2nd best' team not to go to the BCS)

If you accept that the 2-6 teams in the SEC are equal to the 2-4 teams in other conferences, then you might say the 'region' stacks the bowls in their favor, but you have to admit the SEC is deeper than those other BCS conferences.

18
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 12:09am

#14

I know West Virginia was not doing much with Pat White in the 1st half. But the same was true the 2 games before as well-they were losing 13-3 to Marshall at halftime and only winning 14-7 to Maryland at halftime. Both games the offense was not moving at all in the 1st half.

Though when one team has 434 offensive yards to 274 offensive yards as well a 9 minute advantage in time of possession....like West Virginia did over USF I am not sure if I would say its domination by the other team's offense. I am not even sure USF moved the ball "at will" they had one long drive to start the 2nd half and a long pass play for a TD and thats about it. 6 turnovers to 4 turnovers and a 8 point loss by the team with 6 turnovers.

When USF had a chance to put West Virginia away...the last 4 drives were punts (longest drive was 15 yards)-West Virginia kept on giving the ball away at the end of the game. I am sure the game could have ended up being the same result or worse, but I think Pat White would have made a huge difference. But USF won the game, they made the plays when it counted, but I think WVU missing Pat White gets whitewashed somewhat.

19
by Yinka Double Dare (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 12:15am

11: Maybe you missed the part where I said the Big Ten sucked this year.

Notre Dame being bad really hurts the Big Ten's OOC this year in particular (would have last year as well) with four teams playing ND. But seriously, when you schedule ND you're expecting at least a decent team to be on your schedule. Same drill with MSU scheduling Pitt -- that was a bowl team when MSU made that game, and far be it for me to praise anything Sparty, but they did at least try. It's not their fault that the irresistible downward force of the Wannstache has finally taken hold.

The decent teams in the SEC are better than they used to be on scheduling -- it used to be that what Arkansas did this year was more the norm for the voluntarily scheduled games (i.e. not the automatically scheduled rivalries or state-'encouraged' FL/FSU, SC/Clemson, Ga/Tech). UT, LSU, Bama and Georgia all scheduled actual opponents on their own. Arkansas did a recent home-and-home with USC. Of course, if FSU keeps doing their "we don't need no stinking offense" routine Florida might have to start looking for a real opponent sometime soon. The fact that we're getting to the point that just about everyone is at least trying to schedule one or two real OOC opponents is good, it makes the season more fun for all of us to see these games.

Also, you conveniently forgot that the SEC team that came to Michigan was Vandy. Ooh, scary. To be honest, I think if Miles ends up coming up to Ann Arbor (who knows if that will happen) you'll see him schedule a home-and-home with an SEC team. You have no idea how much Michigan fans would LOVE one with Tenn and our gigantic stadiums (they've only played once, in a bowl game). The fact that Michigan and LSU have never played is just criminal, so can we really say who is ducking who? I'd be cool with one with Bama too -- traditional programs, and former Big 10 coach Saban involved. For whatever reason, Michigan tends to schedule home-and-homes with teams from the Pac 10. Why? I don't know, maybe the Rose Bowl relationship between the conferences, but I don't see why they couldn't start scheduling SEC or Big 12 teams sometimes. Ohio State under Tressel will schedule anyone (Texas, Miami, USC), why not us too?

20
by Yinka Double Dare (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 12:25am

Click my name, the link has future schedules, there are some nice ones scheduled for future years. Bama with a home-and-home with Penn State. Tenn has scheduled home-and-homes next decade with both Oklahoma and Nebraska. Ohio State's next four home-and-homes are USC, Miami, Cal, and VaTech.

That just underscores some of the problems with OOC scheduling though -- you can try to schedule a traditional power, but who knows if they'll actually be good then? If they suck, then you run into accusations of having a lousy OOC even though you at least tried.

21
by hooper (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 12:32am

Re: 20

Sweet link - thanks!

It works both ways - somehow, I don't think Auburn believed South Florida would be the team they are this year when the game was scheduled. After all, it's barely been a decade for the Bulls. (Like we've never been reminded of that.)

22
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 12:33am

Bama has Penn State lined up for I think 2010-2011 (this was pre-Saban). Alabama has tried to schedule Notre Dame, but it has not worked out.

So if the intra-state rivals game don't count, can we not count the Notre Dame-Michigan, Notre Dame-Purdue, Notre Dame-Michigan State games either as non-conference opponents

If you want to believe SEC fans-Auburn and Georgia have approached Michigan about a home and home series and have been rebuffed by Michigan-again, that can be internet rumors gone crazy. (Auburn fans says both Michigan and Oregon State turned them down to play this season)

and from a Georgia writer on scout.com for a game in the 2007 season: [Georgia athletic director Damon] Evans has talked to both Notre Dame and Michigan about future matchups within the last two months, but both schools declined to enter into discussions.

23
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 12:35am

Alabama is trying to hammer out a deal for a game against Clemson in 2008.

24
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 2:55am

Re #20
Just to update/clarify, 2 of Ohio State's next 6 home-and-homes were to be with Youngstown State (return trip originally scheduled for next year) and Army, but the Army series is apparently off and the 2008 Penguins game is now also scheduled for the Horseshoe. After the VaTech series, they do have Oklahoma scheduled. See link in name.

25
by JoshuaPerry (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 3:50am

I have a novel idea, some sort of poll-free playing system to determine a championafter the season so the storied programs will play each other.

26
by James G (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 9:09am

Well, I think rivalry games do count. But the "need 8 home games" doesn't wash with me simply because so many SEC teams do it. As I mentioned, only Michigan and Kansas (who both also deserve to be bashed for it) do it this year outside the SEC while a full 50% of SEC teams do it.

And yes, if home means 17% DVOA in the NFL, I think some adjustment needs to be taken into account when you're saying that region is balanced out by depth. Florida getting games in the Citrus or Outback is an advantage that might not be on par with straight up home field, but is certainly an advantage.

And it's true that none of the big conferences can really brag about their OOC schedule (the Big Ten is certainly 2nd worst and not by that much), but what drives me nuts is more the home/road splits than the quality. And the argument that you play all conference games so you don't need tough OOC games just drives the SEC arrogance point home even more.

27
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 10:15am

I don't think bowl games count that are nearby do not count as home field advantage (and I don't think any SEC school gets to play a bowl game in its home stadium-like USC..) but at any rate its a totally different beast-at least the bowl games I have been to.

but yeah the SEC should totally have 7 home games instead of 8 home games-it would mean a huge difference

28
by Brooklyn Bengal (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 10:47am

RE: 26

growing up in the midwest, i'm always a little annoyed by the fact that ALL college bowl games are scheduled in sunny vacation spots. not only, then, do midwest teams not even have an outside shot at "home field advantage," but the teams often travel to different time zones and climates to compete. why can't the southern teams play in the cold? because it's an unfair advantage for teams like tOSU? doesn't that work both ways?

29
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 10:52am

Because the bowl games are about money and they want fans to go to the game. It is just like the Super Bowl, not some conspiracy to not play in the cold.

30
by oljb (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 11:33am

lionsbob-
As a close follower of West Virginia football, I think there is evidence in both directions for whether Pat White not getting injured would have led to a West Virginia victory.
On the positive side, Pat White has singlehandedly engineered some pretty incredible comeback efforts, especially the Georgia Tech game last year in the Gator Bowl in which he made almost all the important plays in coming back from a 18 point third-quarter deficit. There's also the Louisville game from 2005 which featured a similarly massive White-led comeback, and other smaller examples.
On the other hand, the one game in which White failed to get it done in the second half (as opposed to the 2006 Louisville loss in which the Mountaineers still moved the ball on the Cardinals but got no defensive support) was last year's game against South Florida.
USF's defense is simply in a different class than anyone West Virginia has played recently, and this includes Georgia in 2005 and Georgia Tech in 2006, both of which were highly regarded nationally.
Maybe WVU wins if White is still in there, but I think a lot of West Virginia fans feared this game more than any other on the schedule. I'm of the feeling that South Florida is fully deserving of its high ranking.

31
by brian (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 12:32pm

Anybody who knows anything about football knows hands down that the SEC is where the best football in the country is played. Just listen to these names
SEC
florida
tennessee
georgia
alabama
auburn
lsu
and that is just historically now Kentucky, South Carolina are awesome this year. You can put two or three of the other conferences (Pac 10 and Big 10 big 12) and not come up with a list like that. The championship game showed that last year considering Florida wasn't even the best team in the conference. Few remember that without Arkansas having two crucial fumbles they would have won the sec title game without a decent qb and Florida kills the heisman trophy winner in the title game. And anyone who says that bowl games are stacked in the sec's favor how can Auburn go 13-0 in the sec and not even get to the title game.

32
by James G (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 12:33pm

Yeah, I agree it's not a conspiracy. As a northerner who went to the Alamo Bowl one year, I can say that San Antonio over December is a lot nicer than State College over December. Even the Super Bowl is played in nice weather places (aside from domes, and in those years the entire media complains about it). I also think the SEC is probably the best conference on average most years. I just don't think it's the best every year. This year, I think the Pac-10 has a good argument.

USC actually doesn't play the Rose Bowl in its home stadium, but UCLA would if it could ever get that far (and has in the past). But, regarding the aforementioned near-home advantage, I think that Texas A&M had a pretty good advantage over Penn State in that '99 Alamo Bowl in terms of crowd noise. Of course, I'd love to figure out how much home field is crowd noise, and how much is just familiarity with the field & its conditions, etc.

33
by James G (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 12:36pm

brian - the selection of bowl games might not be stacked in the SEC's favor, but the location is. And that particular year just added to my ire wrt SEC fans. I do believe that USC and Oklahoma were indeed the rightful selections for the championship game.

And are you trying to argue that Arkansas was really the best SEC team? The one that lost to Wisconsin in their bowl game?

Let's see, combine 3 other conferences:
Michigan
Ohio State
Penn State
U$C
Washington
Oklahoma
Texas
Nebraska

Yes, I believe I came up with superior historical list.

34
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 4:44pm

lionsbob, Notre Dame-Purdue is an intrastate rivalry game.

BB, I'm with lionsbob: I've lived in the Great Lakes area all my life and I have absolutely no desire ever to see an outdoor bowl game around here.

I saw IU-FSU in the All-American Bowl in Birmingham on New Year's Eve. Hey, it's Alabama. It doesn't get cold in the South in December, right? (I didn't know at the time.)

It turned out to be just like weather back home, just a touch warmer. Cold. Rain. suck. At least that was (I believe) an anomaly.

Give me Tampa, sun, warmth, and tolerable outdoor weather. (except for the biggest blown lead in bowl history at the time. boo.)

Non-conference scheduling is a no-win situation. If the team becomes good, people say you lucked out. If it's bad, they say you picked a cupcake. If you travel to play a strong team, they say you're spending too much money. If you stay home, they say you're beating up your neighbors.

Sure, a little school would like to bring an elite home for dinner, but look at what hooper said. Weaker teams need money for their budgets too, and it's all very well to say they should get home games and such, but sometimes it's better for them to play UM, OSU, Tennessee, and USC on the road.

Part of scheduling, I think, also comes down to job security. It's tricky, because you frequently have entire schedules lined up 3-4 years in advance, but for example, I wouldn't expect to see Purdue picking any strong non-conference competition in the near future.

(They've redone their site. I don't understand why sites get redone so you can't find anything.)

Purdue's schedule is locked down through 2010, with ND on the schedule forever, pretty much.

2008: Northern Colorado (punter's day?), Central Michigan, Oregon (probably a mistake), at ND
2009: Toledo, at Oregon (home-and-home), Northern Illinois, ND
2010: at ND, Western Illinois, Ball State, Toledo
2011: ND, at Rice, two games TBD

Skeptics say "look at all the I-AA and MAC games." Realists say "hmm, looks like they're cutting down on travel expenses."

Now Purdue is obviously a BCS school, but football isn't big there like it is at UM or OSU (or in the SEC or Big 12), so maybe that's a factor. It's cheaper to stay home and play a MAC team, plus cheaper for the MAC team as well.

Interesting that they don't play a I-AA team in 2009.

35
by Kal (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 5:12pm

I'd been wondering for weeks about how Oregon was going to do in the FEI, and they showed up about where I figured they would. They're probably ridiculous on offense and marginal on defense, but that goes well with what I've witnessed; their drives have been pretty good and successful to the point of ludicrousness.

Honestly, I think Oregon was a couple of unlucky breaks away from running the table this year. I still think we have as good a shot of any for winning the Pac-10 outright, even with Cal's tiebreaker. USC and ASU we should both win, and I'm not convinced Cal will stay at one loss by any means. I've not seen a more impressive Duck offense against good teams than I have this year, and against marginal teams they're just downright insane.

36
by John Grenci (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 8:41am

helo, I really like the idea of the Fermeua index.

however, I see that it only seems to come out once or twice a year. does he give weekly values for this anywhere?

thanks
John