Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

Most Recent FO Features

JefferyAls12.jpg

» Catch Radius: The Bigger, the Better?

Our season finale of catch radius focuses on the growing size of Josh McCown's talented receiving duos, including breakout stud Alshon Jeffery. Also: Anquan Boldin's incredible year.

09 Dec 2009

Week 14 FEI Ratings

by Brian Fremeau

Florida punted midway through the third quarter of last weekend’s SEC Championship Game, trailing by 13 points but still within striking distance for a comeback. The Crimson Tide then embarked on a 17-play, 88-yard drive culminating in a Mark Ingram touchdown run, eroding nearly 10 minutes of game clock, and snuffing out the potential for a miracle finish by the Gators. Javier Arenas’ end zone interception of Tim Tebow officially christened the victory on the next series, but the Alabama offense delivered it. Is there any doubt that it was the most important drive of the year in college football?

It wasn’t strictly the longest possession of the year, per se, but it may have been the most impressive. Out of the more than 17,000 offensive possessions in 2009, there were six FBS drives of at least 20 plays, and 68 of at least 17 plays. (Way back on Oct. 6, Arizona State had a 22-play, 94-yard scoring drive against Oregon State, albeit in meaningless garbage time -- and in a losing effort). There were only 23 drives of at least 17 plays that resulted in a touchdown. Only 14 such drives belonged to the victor in the game and only 10 of those took place in the second half. Four of those drives are classified as the final or penultimate non-garbage possession of the game.

Longest game-clinching non-garbage touchdown drives in 2009
Team Opponent Plays Yards Time of
Poss
Opp FEI Opp
Def FEI
Alabama Florida 17 88 8:47 2 17
Georgia Tech North Carolina 17 76 8:20 25 7
Texas Tech Oklahoma 18 80 7:02 22 8
Texas A&M New Mexico 17 88 6:15 111 95

Florida faced 117 opponent non-garbage possessions this season, and 49 percent of those lasted only three plays or fewer. Before the game-clinching drive in the SEC championship, Florida had only given up two non-garbage touchdowns all season on opponent drives that began at or inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. Only 15 out of 79 opponent drives that began at or inside the opponent’s 30-yard line resulted in a score of any kind against Florida this season -- six of these drives were produced by the Crimson Tide offense on Saturday. In terms of game-specific Offensive FEI -- efficiency adjusted for opponent -- Alabama had the single best offensive game of the 2009 college football season.

Compare that to Texas, who faced an almost impenetrable Nebraska defense on Saturday night, eking out a victory in the final harrowing seconds to clinch a spot in the BCS championship game. Colt McCoy and Texas’ offense took the field 16 times in the game, twice as many non-garbage opportunities as Alabama, but only managed 13 points. Against Nebraska and Oklahoma, the two best defenses the Longhorns faced in 2009, Texas’ offense never could find their rhythm. An average offense against an average defense would have expected to score more than 66 points with Texas’ starting field position in those two games -- Texas scored only 29 total points.

For their part, the Longhorns’ defense dominated their side of the ball in those games, setting up Texas for enough short field position situations to knock in a few clutch field goals and pull out victory in the end. But with a championship tilt against the nation’s best defense looming, the Longhorns are going to need to figure out how to jumpstart their offensive attack. Otherwise, workhorse Mark Ingram and the ball-hogging Crimson Tide will roll to a national championship victory.

Week 14 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 December 5th.

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 12-0 .330 1 .289 4 .137 26 .288 25 .502 7 -.658 3 -.677 1 .524 28
2 Florida 11-1 .260 2 .258 6 .124 21 .330 21 .374 14 -.434 14 -.377 17 .547 14
3 Texas 13-0 .245 3 .352 2 .461 93 .398 15 .397 9 -.666 2 -.451 11 .560 6
4 Oregon 10-2 .245 5 .191 11 .132 25 .415 13 .509 6 -.340 21 -.368 20 .502 59
5 Virginia Tech 9-3 .240 4 .205 10 .110 14 .203 31 .326 18 -.449 13 -.432 13 .558 8
6 Cincinnati 11-0 .239 6 .266 5 .288 59 .898 1 .523 5 -.115 42 -.233 31 .510 47
7 Georgia Tech 10-2 .228 9 .112 25 .154 30 .511 9 .707 1 .265 95 .027 66 .507 54
8 TCU 11-0 .212 7 .347 3 .465 94 .268 27 .194 30 -.673 1 -.423 14 .569 4
9 Ohio State 10-2 .207 8 .218 7 .291 60 -.012 59 .163 35 -.655 4 -.577 4 .558 10
10 Miami 8-3 .203 10 .102 29 .142 29 .179 33 .337 16 -.163 36 -.369 19 .516 37
11 Iowa 9-2 .202 11 .119 24 .193 37 -.169 85 .068 52 -.546 7 -.599 3 .512 44
12 Arizona 7-4 .196 15 .090 33 .100 10 .054 45 .207 28 -.213 33 -.332 22 .525 26
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 Oregon State 7-4 .188 12 .128 22 .124 23 .331 20 .329 17 .106 70 .006 62 .548 12
14 Stanford 8-4 .187 13 .134 20 .138 28 .539 8 .669 2 .358 103 .232 92 .562 5
15 Pittsburgh 8-3 .187 16 .168 16 .365 74 .328 22 .274 20 -.111 43 -.258 28 .534 22
16 Penn State 9-2 .181 17 .217 8 .394 81 .256 29 .190 31 -.644 5 -.543 6 .512 45
17 LSU 9-3 .179 18 .136 19 .070 4 -.080 72 .091 46 -.412 15 -.453 10 .543 15
18 Boise State 12-0 .179 14 .403 1 .599 114 .579 6 .074 50 -.458 11 -.364 21 .578 3
19 Clemson 7-5 .169 19 .098 30 .118 18 -.048 66 .165 34 -.221 32 -.387 16 .548 13
20 USC 8-4 .167 20 .057 43 .090 8 .057 44 .234 25 -.229 30 -.251 29 .502 58
21 Texas Tech 7-4 .150 21 .170 14 .222 47 .322 23 .380 13 -.377 17 -.208 33 .512 43
22 Oklahoma 6-5 .148 22 .131 21 .201 41 .028 49 .038 57 -.530 8 -.544 5 .507 52
23 Arkansas 6-5 .137 23 .091 32 .054 1 .415 14 .382 12 .011 59 -.147 39 .519 34
24 Nebraska 9-4 .131 33 .179 13 .227 48 -.141 81 -.212 93 -.577 6 -.472 8 .552 11
25 North Carolina 6-4 .124 24 .029 50 .123 20 -.271 96 .014 61 -.360 19 -.529 7 .481 85

This is the final regular FEI update of the year, but we'll be back in a couple of weeks with bowl previews.

Posted by: Brian Fremeau on 09 Dec 2009

9 comments, Last at 11 Dec 2009, 5:33pm by beargoggles

Comments

1
by DaninPhilly (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 1:42pm

Great analysis, and confirms my understanding that it was the offense more than the defense that won the game for the Tide.

2
by sethburn :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 3:03pm

Nice work Brian. I'm curious if this Championship game has the biggest FEI gap in the BCS era (or as long back as FEI goes).

3
by Salvi's Headband (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 3:47pm

So Cincy's SOS is twice as impressive as TCU's. Confirms my general feeling.

6
by myteam.gt.yourteam (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 4:48pm

My general feeling is different. I don't think Cincinnati's schedule is that much tougher than TCU's.

In general, I think FEI overrates both the Big East and the ACC. Someone had a nice theory last week about how the ACC might be "fooling" FEI, and I think a similar reasoning would apply to the Big East. Cincinnati is the Georgia Tech of the Northeast.

4
by Sean D (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 3:51pm

Maybe I missed this in an earlier article, but the SOS, GE and FPA look pretty similar for TCU and Texas. What is it that creates the FEI separation?

5
by Salvi's Headband (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 4:00pm

And if Ciny is undefeated against a significantly harder schedule than both...?

7
by DSMok1 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/09/2009 - 5:13pm

Another angle to look from is yards/play ( http://www.godismyjudgeok.com/CFB_Rank_091209.php ). Here, too, Texas is simply not as good as Alabama or Florida.

I would dispute that Texas really had that weak of a schedule--in looking through the lens of adjusted yards/play, they played the 20th-best schedule.

How exactly are the adjustments for strength of schedule added to the rating, and how are the offensive and defensive ratings combined? I am very surprised to see the top teams so relatively weak--Florida is only 14th on offense and 17th on defense? How are they then ahead of Texas, whose (adjusted) ranks are 9th and 11th? The math seems a little peculiar.

8
by dearth of difth (not verified) :: Thu, 12/10/2009 - 6:02pm

I've been kind of watching the Pac-10 ratings all year and have a SOS question. UCLA's SOS is rated the toughest in the Pac-10 at 7, USC is 8 and Washington is 9.

Washington played the same schedule as UCLA except:

Wash: 17 LSU, 26 ND, 42 UCLA, 100 Idaho

UCLA: 30 Tenn, 50 Wash, 75 Kansas St., 106 SD St.

Plus Washington got an extra pac-10 home game.

Assuming the road games vs. ND and Tenn wash, and the home games vs. Idaho and SDSU even out, and playing each other evens out (though all three were rated slightly tougher for UW), that means that Washington's extra home game was worth more than the difference between hosting KSU and LSU.

If you take away the WSU game (UW got them at home, UCLA on the road), where assumedly the home/road didn't matter much for SOS, it boils down to UW getting USC and Arizona at home and UCLA getting ASU and Washington at home (with UW getting UCLA and ASU on road and UCLA getting USC and Arizona on road).

For Husky fans, not only does that LSU vs. K-State schedule difference mean that the hated Neuheisel gets to take his team to a bowl, and our beloved Sarkisian doesn't, it doesn't even get us a better FEI SOS number! Footballoutsiders.com has never let me down like this before....

9
by beargoggles :: Fri, 12/11/2009 - 5:33pm

Maybe FEI is smart enough to know the difference between UCLA playing Cal and UW playing BadCal. ;)

You're right that doesn't make sense. Who's responsible for UW nonconference death marches of recent years, anyway? Willingham?