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18 Nov 2009

Week 11 FEI Ratings

by Brian Fremeau

Maybe you saw the fall of USC coming this year. Maybe you had a hunch that the loss of an entire two-deep linebacker corps to NFL rosters during the last few seasons would be too much to overcome. Maybe you suspected that the offense and defense would struggle to maintain consistency in the absence of dynamic coordinators that had moved on to head coaching gigs of their own. Maybe you thought this wasn’t the right time for a freshman quarterback, however talented, to step in and maintain the Trojans’ unprecedented track record of success.

Maybe. But did you really think you’d be watching the Stanford Cardinal deliver the kill shot? There were plenty of other viable Pac-10 candidates with the potential to dethrone USC at the beginning of the year, but Stanford was far from the most popular pick. Even three short weeks ago, head coach Jim Harbaugh’s team had dropped two in a row to Oregon State and Arizona -- each by double digits -- and appeared more like a nuisance than an actual threat to any of the league’s contenders.

But after back-to-back drubbings of Oregon and USC -- each ranked in the BCS Top 10 at the time of the game -- Stanford is now the hottest, most dangerous team in the nation. Running back Toby Gerhart is steamrolling his way to New York for the Heisman ceremony, and freshman quarterback Andrew Luck is making people wonder why so much fuss has been made about USC’s Matt Barkley. And now Harbaugh is either about to sign a big fat contract extension or strike while his iron’s hot and make a move to the NFL or a higher-profile NCAA gig.

Whether or not it’s a factor in his career plans, Harbaugh might want to think about other recent breakout seasons and the often fleeting nature of college football turnarounds. We use Program FEI for our projection tool baseline because in the big picture, college football teams don’t dramatically advance their program status overnight very often. During the last five seasons, the biggest single-season breakouts were almost always followed by at least some sort of step back the following year.

Top 15 Breakout Seasons Since 2005 (FEI - Program FEI)
Year Team Delta Prev Year
W-L
Year W-L Next Year
W-L
2005 Tulsa 0.294 3-8 9-4 7-5
2008 Buffalo 0.269 5-7 8-6 2-7*
2006 Rutgers 0.264 6-5 10-2 7-5
2008 North Carolina 0.253 3-8 7-5 5-3*
2008 Mississippi 0.248 2-9 8-4 5-3*
2009 Temple 0.236 5-7 8-1* -
2008 Temple 0.230 4-8 5-7 8-1*
2008 Ball State 0.229 6-6 11-2 1-8*
2005 SMU 0.223 3-8 5-6 5-6
2005 Baylor 0.221 2-8 4-6 3-8
2009 Stanford 0.211 5-7 7-3* -
2006 Hawaii 0.205 5-7 10-3 10-1
2007 Illinois 0.205 1-10 8-4 4-7
2005 UTEP 0.203 7-4 7-4 5-7
2006 BYU 0.200 5-6 11-2 10-2
*Season in progress

By this metric, the most impressive rebuilding job at the moment is actually Al Golden’s turnaround at Temple -- a program that ranked dead last in Program FEI heading into the 2008 season. The Owls haven’t run over multiple top-10 opponents this year like Stanford, but they are very obviously taking the next step forward after emerging from the depths of despair. We’ll need a few more years to evaluate the long-term impact of either coach on the revival of their respective programs, but it remains to be seen if they’ll stick it out or move on to greener pastures.

One quick housekeeping note: I discovered an error in the strength of schedule formula I was running over the past few weeks. It was treating home field advantage inversely, lowering a home team's win expectation data and raising a road team's. This error was isolated to the SOS output only, which is produced as a function of the FEI ratings, not the other way around. It also did not impact any of the FEI Forecasts, which have consistently credited home field advantage in favor of the home team.

Of note in the now corrected SOS data, TCU's schedule to date rates just as strong as any of the other undefeated candidates. That is likely to change down the stretch, as Alabama and Florida will still meet and Cincinnati will play its strongest Big East opposition in the final weeks of the year. But for now, there aren't many reasons to doubt the Horned Frogs are just as qualified for consideration as any of the others.

Week 11 FEI Top 25

The principles of the Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) 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 (GE), 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. Strength of Schedule (SOS) is calculated as the likelihood that an elite team would win every game on the given team's schedule to date. SOS listed here does not include future games scheduled.

Only games between FBS teams are considered in the FEI calculations. Preseason projections are not a factor in the current calculations. Current FEI ratings are a function of results of games played through Nov. 15th.

FEI ratings for all 120 FBS teams are now listed in the stats page section of FootballOutsiders.com. Click here for current ratings; the pull-down menu in the stats section directs you to 2007 and 2008 ratings.

Rank Team FBS
W-L
FEI Last
Wk
GE GE
Rk
SOS SOS
Rk
OE OE
Rk
Off
FEI
OFEI
Rk
DE DE
Rk
Def
FEI
DFEI
Rk
FPA FPA
Rk
1 Alabama 10-0 .280 1 .298 4 .357 61 .162 34 .333 15 -.715 2 -.647 2 .532 22
2 TCU 9-0 .253 2 .335 3 .370 64 .291 23 .308 19 -.603 6 -.448 13 .563 5
3 Texas 10-0 .249 5 .393 1 .513 95 .394 16 .388 11 -.750 1 -.463 12 .577 4
4 Florida 9-0 .247 3 .266 6 .475 86 .124 41 .306 20 -.616 5 -.570 8 .548 14
5 Georgia Tech 9-1 .246 6 .137 23 .141 7 .495 8 .697 2 .142 81 -.132 40 .504 56
6 Cincinnati 9-0 .242 4 .293 5 .464 84 1.017 1 .591 4 -.157 36 -.197 31 .501 61
7 Virginia Tech 7-3 .234 7 .169 14 .136 5 .144 37 .391 10 -.434 15 -.440 15 .548 13
8 Clemson 6-3 .230 9 .144 22 .157 13 -.086 73 .134 39 -.376 21 -.632 3 .555 10
9 Ohio State 9-2 .222 12 .224 7 .292 43 .037 53 .207 28 -.633 3 -.585 5 .563 6
10 Iowa 8-2 .217 11 .116 28 .185 17 -.098 75 .104 41 -.470 13 -.574 7 .516 38
11 Oregon 8-2 .206 10 .212 9 .284 40 .390 18 .445 8 -.414 17 -.370 20 .513 46
12 Pittsburgh 8-1 .205 16 .218 8 .606 105 .424 12 .341 13 -.094 46 -.191 33 .548 15
Rank Team FBS
W-L
FEI Last
Wk
GE GE
Rk
SOS SOS
Rk
OE OE
Rk
Off
FEI
OFEI
Rk
DE DE
Rk
Def
FEI
DFEI
Rk
FPA FPA
Rk
13 North Carolina 5-3 .198 21 .015 51 .154 11 -.242 91 -.002 60 -.376 20 -.627 4 .456 106
14 Miami 6-3 .197 8 .065 39 .092 2 .159 35 .455 7 -.117 41 -.416 16 .497 63
15 Oregon State 6-3 .191 18 .118 27 .259 33 .260 24 .290 22 .090 71 -.074 47 .550 12
16 Stanford 7-3 .189 19 .157 18 .193 19 .585 5 .713 1 .286 94 .253 93 .561 8
17 Boise State 9-0 .179 13 .387 2 .687 116 .418 14 .089 47 -.540 9 -.446 14 .587 3
18 Arizona 5-3 .178 15 .107 30 .228 25 .165 32 .184 31 -.209 30 -.313 24 .522 27
19 Oklahoma 5-4 .174 17 .187 12 .292 42 .187 29 .097 45 -.563 7 -.578 6 .502 60
20 Penn State 8-2 .170 22 .200 10 .439 78 .235 26 .167 34 -.625 4 -.485 10 .503 58
21 USC 7-3 .153 14 .055 42 .138 6 .164 33 .310 18 -.162 35 -.221 30 .495 66
22 LSU 8-2 .153 20 .159 17 .213 23 -.058 66 .051 56 -.492 12 -.401 17 .547 17
23 Florida State 4-5 .151 23 .038 46 .115 3 .391 17 .579 5 .567 115 .208 90 .547 16
24 Boston College 6-3 .140 24 .056 41 .165 15 -.012 60 .067 54 -.493 11 -.724 1 .471 98
25 Wisconsin 7-2 .133 27 .077 36 .341 54 .376 20 .297 21 -.165 34 -.361 21 .475 91

Posted by: Brian Fremeau on 18 Nov 2009

9 comments, Last at 20 Nov 2009, 12:33am by Brian Fremeau

Comments

1
by SOBL (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:59pm

I've laughed at the Luck-Barkley comparisons. Yes both are starting for the first time this eyar but Luck is a redshirt frosh. Very large difference. Ask Jimmy Claussen about the difference between his 1st and 2nd seasons.

2
by Mac (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 1:43pm

North Carolina? Really?

4
by ChrisH :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:20pm

What surprises me about UNC being so high in the year to year rankings is that in 2007, they had a losing record, but had 6 losses that were by a score or less, 4 of which were by 4 points or less. It seems that, even though they lost, their FEI ranking would still be decent for playing all those games well, and I don't think they just blew away teams in 2008.

8
by Muldrake (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 10:38pm

Ditto that for FSU

3
by Thok :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:16pm

FEI apparently doesn't count games against Non-FCS schools. Because I bet their opening game loss to Villanova drops their in-season improvement below Stanford's.

(Not that Temple clearly isn't massively improved. But it seems silly to throw out data like that.)

6
by Will :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 4:27pm

"Only games between FBS teams are considered in the FEI calculations."

Will

5
by csjoholm (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:32pm

Isn't Washington having a breakout season? Last year their FEI was -.256. This year it's -.005 - that's a delta of +.251.

7
by knathon (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 6:42pm

East coast bias... stinking Bostonians...

9
by Brian Fremeau :: Fri, 11/20/2009 - 12:33am

Washington's FEI was terrible last year, but their Program FEI wasn't as terrible. In other words, its more of a rebound year than a breakout year.