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03 Nov 2010

FEI: Kickoff Coverage

by Brian Fremeau

Last week, we started breaking down Field Position Advantage (FPA). Every yard line of the football field has a built-in starting field position value, and FPA represents the share of total starting field position earned by each team in a game. By controlling starting field position, a team's offense has an easier time maximizing scoring opportunities and its defense has an easier shutting down its opponent.

Since football is a game played in alternating possessions, each team has roughly an equal number of opportunities to score in a given game. There may, of course, be an odd number of possessions in a half, which would provide one team with an extra scoring chance. And in a tight game, an extra possession might make a big difference. The average starting field position for all offensive possessions in college football is approximately a team's own 31-yard line. An average offense against an average defense would be expected to score 1.7 points per drive from that starting field position.

Every coach has his own preference about the opening coin toss. Some coaches prefer to go on defense to start the first half so that they will receive the kick to start the second half. Others like to start with the ball immediately, to try to jump ahead and put pressure on their opponent to match. Neither decision results in more or fewer total game possessions on average, but the team that receives the kick in each half has a roughly 50 percent chance of possessing the ball one more time than their opponent in that half.

As I perused this week's drive summary data, I found something peculiar. In the Nebraska-Missouri game on Saturday, the Cornhuskers kicked off to start both halves. Bo Pelini was asked about it after the game and chalked it up to a communication error at the coin flip. His captains elected to kick to start the game rather than defer the decision to the second half, allowing Missouri to choose to receive in each half. Ultimately, it didn't matter -- there were an even number of possessions in each half -- but the gaffe could very well have given Missouri two extra scoring opportunities in the game had the possession count been uneven. I have been tracking drive summary data since 2003, and according to my data, this is the first time in the last eight seasons that the same team kicked off to start both halves of an FBS vs. FBS game. (EDIT: Apologies for the original erroneous information, but there have been several examples in the last few years of a team kicking off to start each half. Nebraska's kicks against Missouri were the first instance this season. It is rare, but not once-in-a-decade rare.)

Another thing worth noting about Nebraska's kickoffs on Saturday -- Ani Kunalic kicked off seven times for the Cornhuskers (once to start each half and once after each of Nebraska's five scoring drives) and all seven were touchbacks. Counting non-garbage kickoffs only, Kunalic recorded more touchbacks than any other kicker in an FBS game this year. How valuable were those kicks?

Similar to our approach to punt efficiency, we can calculate the value of each kickoff and reciprocal kick return based on resulting field position value. On average, kickoffs are returned to approximately the 27-yard line, an average starting field position value of 1.6 points. This includes all touchbacks (20-yard line, 1.3 points) and kickoff return touchdowns ("zero"-yard line, 6.96 points). It also includes fumbled kick returns and successful onside kicks that result in a forfeited offensive possession for the receiving team (zero points of field position value). "Kickoff Efficiency" (KOE) is the average difference between the value of a team's actual post-kickoff field position value and the national average expected for those kicks. Kickoff return efficiency is the same value attributed to the return team.

In Kunalic's game against Missouri, the resulting field position value for each kick was 0.3 points per kick better than average (-.334). Good kickoff teams produce a negative KOE -- less resulting field position value than expected -- and good kickoff return teams produce a positive KOE. On the season, Nebraska ranks fifth in KOE. The Cornhuskers also rank in the Top 10 in KOE for return teams, the only team ranked in the Top 10 in both categories. (Only non-garbage-time kickoffs were included).

Kickoff Efficiency Top-10 Kickoff Return Efficiency Top-10
Rank Team Kicks KOE Rank Team Kicks KOE
1 Washington State 24 -.282 1 Central Florida 25 .420
2 Temple 39 -.279 2 South Florida 24 .317
3 Stanford 42 -.268 3 Alabama 25 .300
4 Penn State 31 -.247 4 Ohio State 26 .251
5 Nebraska 47 -.244 5 Florida 35 .251
6 Utah 50 -.238 6 Toledo 40 .238
7 Florida State 34 -.224 7 Connecticut 32 .233
8 Illinois 33 -.218 8 TCU 19 .223
9 Georgia 51 -.203 9 Nebraska 26 .223
10 Central Florida 36 -.194 10 LSU 26 .214

Nebraska ranks second to Central Florida in total combined value of kickoff and kickoff return efficiency: 0.466 points better than average field position value per kick over the course of a game. That's roughly equal to 10 yards of starting field position on average. The average game features 9.5 non-garbage kickoffs, meaning Nebraska's kickoff and kickoff return units alone are spotting the Cornhuskers about 4-5 points per game on the scoreboard.

Approximately 80 percent of drives start after a punt or kickoff in college football. Next week we'll examine the result of starting field position value created from turnovers.

Three and Out

Week 3: Three-and-outs, Available Yards, and Explosive Drives
Week 4: Reaching the Red Zone, Methodical Drives, and Late and Close Efficiency
Week 5: Converting 10+ Yard Drives Into Scores, Points Per Possession, and Scoring After Three-and-outs
Week 6: Yards Per TD Drive, Playing With 2- or 3-Score Lead, Third Downs Per First Down Series
Week 7: FEI Team Resumes for South Carolina, Arizona State, and Utah
Week 8: FEI Team Resumes for Oregon, Wisconsin, and Georgia

In the tables below, the Game Efficiency, Offensive FEI, Defensive FEI, and "Game" FEI (GFEI) for each team in each game is provided. The ranking of those individual unit and game performances is also provided. Note that there have been 448 FBS vs. FBS game played to date, meaning that there have been 896 individual game performances for each category.

The opponent FEI ranking is also provided, as well as a general relevance factor for the particular GFEI, OFEI, and DFEI results for that team in that game. As stated in the FEI principles, my system rewards playing well against good teams, win or lose, and punishes losing to poor teams more harshly than it rewards defeating poor teams. In the formula, the relevance factor is partly a function of the relative ratings of the two teams. Across all games, the least relevant results receive about one-eighth as much weight as the most relevant results. For simplicity, I've generalized the relevance data here into three equally distributed categories, High, Med, and Low.

No. 5 Iowa Hawkeyes (5-2)
Date Wk Opponent Result Opp
FEI
Opp
OFEI
Opp
DFEI
GE GE
Rk
FPA FPA
Rk
OFEI OFEI
Rk
DFEI DFEI
Rk
GFEI GFEI
Rk
Relevance
9/11 2 Iowa State W 35-7 83 73 108 .588 29 .456 623 .885 145 -.826 40 .348 108 Low
9/18 3 at Arizona L 27-34 17 25 28 -.067 550 .463 598 .423 336 -.760 52 .375 91 High
9/25 4 Ball State W 45-0 108 108 114 .588 30 .649 24 .014 551 -.189 235 .123 299 Low
10/2 5 Penn State W 24-3 57 99 54 .174 246 .455 625 .149 481 -.216 228 .120 301 Low
10/16 7 at Michigan W 38-28 43 2 112 .124 288 .554 236 -.110 602 -.674 77 .31 139 Med
10/23 8 Wisconsin L 30-31 13 3 36 -.016 465 .538 296 1.227 70 -.187 237 .331 123 High
10/30 9 Michigan State W 37-6 22 31 7 .466 68 .649 25 1.812 9 -.926 28 .704 2 Med

Iowa's big leap up the FEI ratings this week comes on the heels of its dominant victory over Michigan State, the second best single-game GFEI rating of the year. The Hawkeyes dominated field position throughout the game as well, forcing the Spartans to start all 10 of their non-garbage-time possessions inside their own 30-yard line. Six of Michigan State's last seven non-garbage-time drives in the game began at or inside their own 20-yard line.

No. 18 Miami Hurricanes (4-3)
Date Wk Opponent Result Opp
FEI
Opp
OFEI
Opp
DFEI
GE GE
Rk
FPA FPA
Rk
OFEI OFEI
Rk
DFEI DFEI
Rk
GFEI GFEI
Rk
Relevance
9/11 2 at Ohio State L 24-36 15 19 17 -.132 617 .466 586 .318 391 -.705 65 .333 120 High
9/23 4 at Pittsburgh W 31-3 20 30 37 .261 175 .525 351 .656 231 -1.284 10 .673 6 High
10/2 5 at Clemson W 30-21 27 42 10 .076 333 .588 131 .700 212 -.450 135 .413 70 Med
10/9 6 Florida State L 17-45 30 21 45 -.261 722 .379 836 .388 355 -.133 270 -.114 579 High
10/16 7 at Duke W 28-13 87 75 73 .130 284 .533 319 -.428 728 -.404 151 .017 422 Low
10/23 8 North Carolina W 33-10 31 28 34 .329 122 .503 432 1.291 55 -.936 26 .472 41 Med
10/30 9 at Virginia L 19-24 78 83 76 -.057 534 .486 501 -.196 640 .433 582 -.119 584 High

The F/+ love for Miami this year is making us a little bit uncomfortable. Why do the numbers favor the Hurricanes over a handful of other ACC teams, much less others, and why aren't their weaker performances dragging them down? FEI clearly loves the dominant victory over Pittsburgh, and the fact that Miami has played five of its seven FBS opponents on the road is helping a lot. Also, Miami is in an interesting situation with multiple "High" and "Mid" relevance data points that are both strong and weak. Other teams have more consistency in their game data (good performances versus weak teams, weak performances versus good teams) and Miami seems to be somewhere in the middle.

No. 52 Baylor Bears (6-2)
Date Wk Opponent Result Opp
FEI
Opp
OFEI
Opp
DFEI
GE GE
Rk
FPA FPA
Rk
OFEI OFEI
Rk
DFEI DFEI
Rk
GFEI GFEI
Rk
Relevance
9/11 2 Buffalo W 34-6 104 120 41 .308 138 .526 348 .585 252 .760 723 -.095 564 Low
9/18 3 at TCU L 10-45 12 22 6 -.471 831 .470 566 .663 227 1.076 816 .041 396 Med
9/25 4 at Rice W 30-13 110 97 113 .256 185 .557 230 -.371 713 .287 505 -.090 554 Low
10/2 5 Kansas W 55-7 113 111 98 .511 47 .557 231 .626 240 .440 584 -.050 508 Low
10/9 6 vs. Texas Tech L 38-45 67 51 65 -.077 566 .577 163 .482 303 1.311 846 -.110 575 High
10/16 7 at Colorado W 31-25 73 76 53 .078 329 .439 686 .637 237 .271 490 .053 380 Med
10/23 8 Kansas State W 47-42 51 48 79 .055 365 .534 315 .468 315 .818 747 .047 387 High
10/30 9 at Texas W 30-22 44 90 18 .099 310 .464 594 1.384 42 .403 563 .281 153 High

There are only two teams with two or fewer losses ranked behind Baylor -- San Diego State and Temple. The Bears lead the Big 12 South and just won in Austin. Are there really 51 teams with a better resume to date? The problem is that FEI is unimpressed with any of the victories. Their big wins came against teams ranked in the 100s, they have had some close calls against teams in their peer group, and the blowout loss to TCU isn't doing them any favors. FEI does not expect much from Baylor down the stretch with a tough slate against Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma in the coming weeks.

If you have a suggestion for an FEI Team Resume you'd like to see, drop me a line on Twitter or in the comment section here. I'm happy to answer data inquiries or provide team resume tables for bloggers interested in investigating the data themselves.

FEI Week 9 Top 25

The principles of the Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) can be found here. FEI rewards playing well against good teams, win or lose, and punishes losing to poor teams more harshly than it rewards defeating poor teams. FEI 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. FEI represents a team's efficiency value over average. Strength of Schedule (SOS) is calculated as the likelihood that an elite team (two standard deviations above average) would win every game on the given team's schedule to date. SOS listed here does not include future games scheduled.

Mean Wins (FBS MW) represent the average total games a team with the given FEI rating should expect to win against its complete schedule of FBS opponents. Remaining Mean Wins (FBS RW) represent the average expected team wins for games scheduled but not yet played.

Offensive FEI (OFEI) and Defensive FEI (DFEI) are the opponent-adjusted ratings of all non-garbage-time drives from scrimmage. Field Position Advantage (FPA) is the share of the value of total starting field position for the season earned by each team against its opponents. Field Goal Efficiency (FGE) is the point value per field goal attempt earned by the field goal unit.

Only games between FBS teams are considered in the FEI calculations. The FEI ratings published here are a function of the results of games played through October 30.

FEI ratings for all 120 FBS teams are 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 through 2009 ratings. There are also now separate pages for offensive and defensive FEI ratings for 2010.

Rk Team FBS
Rec
FEI LW
Rk
GE GE
Rk
SOS SOS
Rk
FBS
MW
FBS
RW
OFEI OFEI
Rk
DFEI DFEI
Rk
FPA FPA
Rk
FGE FGE
Rk
1 Auburn 9-0 .305 1 .169 14 .213 15 9.4 1.5 .747 1 -.436 9 .524 34 .134 48
2 Oregon 7-0 .273 6 .305 5 .429 62 9.6 3.4 .392 14 -.432 11 .553 9 .641 10
3 Nebraska 6-1 .263 5 .248 10 .435 64 9.9 3.8 .487 7 -.500 5 .532 24 .796 5
4 Boise State 7-0 .244 4 .436 1 .498 77 10.9 4.6 .369 15 -.428 13 .539 18 .171 45
5 Iowa 5-2 .237 19 .224 11 .355 45 9.3 3.6 .365 17 -.462 8 .528 29 .059 57
6 LSU 6-1 .236 8 .087 38 .181 9 8.5 3.2 .221 33 -.306 27 .577 2 .674 8
7 Alabama 7-1 .233 12 .300 6 .354 44 8.3 1.6 .472 10 -.326 21 .579 1 .131 51
8 Virginia Tech 6-1 .233 9 .274 7 .360 48 9.0 3.2 .491 6 -.314 25 .552 10 .436 22
9 Missouri 6-1 .230 2 .161 17 .279 29 9.3 3.8 .413 12 -.532 4 .520 39 .398 27
10 South Carolina 5-2 .225 3 .150 18 .182 10 8.3 3.1 .574 5 -.315 24 .527 30 -.368 93
11 Stanford 6-1 .225 14 .263 8 .330 41 8.8 3.1 .265 26 -.278 30 .557 7 .324 30
12 TCU 8-0 .223 7 .364 2 .707 106 9.9 2.5 .319 22 -.491 6 .567 4 .620 11
Rk Team FBS
Rec
FEI LW
Rk
GE GE
Rk
SOS SOS
Rk
FBS
MW
FBS
RW
OFEI OFEI
Rk
DFEI DFEI
Rk
FPA FPA
Rk
FGE FGE
Rk
13 Wisconsin 6-1 .213 16 .150 19 .286 31 9.1 3.7 .668 3 -.201 36 .504 58 .524 17
14 Oklahoma 7-1 .208 13 .169 15 .408 58 9.7 3.1 .473 9 -.413 14 .512 53 .113 54
15 Ohio State 8-1 .199 17 .350 3 .359 47 9.6 2.1 .353 19 -.379 17 .548 13 -.072 70
16 North Carolina State 5-2 .191 21 .088 35 .442 67 8.1 2.9 .177 37 -.394 15 .526 31 -.060 67
17 Arizona 6-1 .187 15 .171 13 .549 87 7.9 2.0 .268 25 -.295 28 .513 51 .314 33
18 Miami 4-3 .186 18 .044 51 .262 25 7.7 2.9 .185 36 -.543 3 .502 60 .160 46
19 Oregon State 4-3 .175 20 .041 53 .179 7 7.4 3.1 .409 13 .114 75 .540 17 -.736 109
20 Pittsburgh 4-3 .172 24 .108 26 .413 60 8.1 3.1 .244 30 -.192 37 .537 21 .008 61
21 USC 5-3 .163 11 .146 20 .288 32 9.2 3.3 .483 8 .104 72 .560 6 -.722 108
22 Michigan State 7-1 .157 10 .087 37 .316 39 8.3 2.7 .240 31 -.480 7 .480 86 .603 12
23 Mississippi State 6-2 .155 26 .121 24 .181 8 6.9 1.7 -.014 63 -.572 1 .531 26 -.089 75
24 Utah 8-0 .148 28 .340 4 .686 103 9.8 2.8 .082 46 -.386 16 .549 12 .400 26
25 Oklahoma State 7-1 .145 27 .161 16 .521 83 9.2 2.9 .292 24 -.241 32 .509 55 .976 1

Posted by: Brian Fremeau on 03 Nov 2010

21 comments, Last at 04 Nov 2010, 10:36am by Bill Connelly

Comments

1
by Kal :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 3:17pm

Assuming everyone stays the same as they are right this second, what would Auburn and Oregon's SOS be at the end of the season (with no SEC champion)?

2
by Brian Fremeau :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 3:36pm

Auburn: .110 (15th)
Oregon: .225 (47th)

3
by Kal :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 3:48pm

Huh. So still not a lot of change for Oregon. Interesting. And I guess Auburn doesn't get dinged for the FCS school, but neither did Oregon, so that's a wash.

Thanks!

4
by rn (not verified) :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 4:27pm

In 2007, Cal kicked off to start each half @ UW in this dumpster fire of a game:

http://espn.go.com/ncf/playbyplay?gameId=273210264&period=0

5
by young curmudgeon :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 4:39pm

"I have been tracking drive summary data since 2003, and according to my data, this is the first time in the last eight seasons that the same team kicked off to start both halves of an FBS vs. FBS game."

A rule change I'd like to see: a team that is behind by 18 or more points at the end of the first half automatically receives the second half kickoff, no matter which team received at the start of the game. Many times, you will see a team that is winning handily receive the second half kickoff, march down the field to score, and essentially end any interest in the game. Why not at least give the losing team the chance to make it interesting? The point total I have suggested, 18, is supposed to lessen the chance of a blow-out, while still not unduly penalizing a team that had a 10 point lead and scored a touchdown at the end of the first half to go up 17. This point total, of course, can be debated. Anyone else think this is a good idea?

(One of the most amazing games I ever watched was the '74 USC-Notre Dame game--USC was behind 24-6, Anthony Davis ran back the 2nd half kickoff for USC, and they mounted an astonishing comeback to win 55-24. The more opportunities for something like that to happen, the better.)

7
by Brian Fremeau :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 4:50pm

I don't think an extra possession should be granted to any team just because they fell behind by "too much".

If you wanted to eliminate the 3rd quarter kickoff and continue the last 1st-half possession (in the same manner that possession is retained between the 1st and 2nd quarters and 3rd and 4th quarters), that would be less arbitrary.

12
by zlionsfan :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 5:51pm

This sounds to me like you are trying to address a very small number of games by affecting a large number of them, and I'm not sure I'm convinced that there's an issue in the first place. (I don't know that the NCAA is obligated to provide an interesting game to the fans - certainly the increasing number of I-A vs. I-AA games would suggest that if anything, the NCAA doesn't care at all about the matchup.)

How often does the team leading by such a margin at halftime receive the kick and go on to score on that possession? You say "many times", but is that 50%? 80%? 20%? What's the average distribution of points in the third quarter in those games? In other words, how often does only one possession seem to make a difference?

Is reversing possession really going to address the issue anyway? It seems it would be most likely to do so in games where one team a) trailed by 18 or more at halftime, b) lost by a single possession, c) kicked off to start the second half, and d) did not possess the ball at the end of the game. (In other words, the winning team had an extra possession in the second half.) If the final margin of victory is more than one score, or if the second-half possessions were equal, it doesn't seem like this would make a tangible difference.

And how many of those games work out this way? How many would likely be affected by this change? (Put another way, when a team trailing by 18 or more at halftime receives the second-half kickoff, how often do they score on that possession?)

What happens to the choice at the start of the second half? Do you automatically give the leading team the choice of direction?

What effect would this have on first-half decisions? Would a team more likely to lead in these scenarios choose to receive the kick rather than deferring or kicking off, knowing they'd likely be forced to kick off in the second half?

What effect would it have on late first-half playcalling? Would teams up 14 and with first choice in the second half then choose to kick a field goal rather than score a touchdown on their final first-half possession, knowing that the touchdown would take the option to receive away from them? Would a team down 16 and pinned in their own end simply snap the ball out of the end zone to steal the second-half kick?

6
by young curmudgeon :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 4:48pm

It still bugs me that you can't account for a loss like Virginia Tech's to JMU, a team that is currently 4-4, with losses to Delaware, New Hampshire, Villanova, and the mighty Minutemen of UMass. Yeah, I know, connectivity, blah, blah, blah...I just have a hard time understanding a system that is going to get only 12 or so fundamental significant data points (games) blithely giving one away because it's too difficult to figure out how to deal with it.

If big-time teams are going to insist on scheduling sacrificial lambs, they should get some kind of penalty when the lamb suddenly jumps off the altar and bites them. Just pretending that game didn't happen seems odd.

9
by Brian Fremeau :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 4:58pm

Are you upset that Virginia Tech doesn't deserve its lofty rating/ranking and should be penalized? Or do you think Virginia Tech's rating (and other team ratings that are impacted by VaTech's rating) are "wrong" because the information isn't included?

I think the second question is a valid challenge for FEI. I don't think the first one is relevant.

11
by Kal :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 5:23pm

I think the latter is the more important thing. If you're going to take out 'fluke games' because they're not predictive or useful in gauging strength, it should be done more methodically than simply 'all FCS teams'. If FEI can't handle what that does to a rating, so be it - it likely points to an outlier or a problem with the system.

Would it make that much of a difference if VT was given a 1-point loss vs. the 120th best team, that way? I don't know. Likely some (though FEI doesn't seem to be as variable as S&P when dealing with opponent rankings). But the point should be that it should be, one way or another.

Have you considered doing any weighted FEI similar to weighted DVOA as the season goes on?

13
by young curmudgeon :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 6:06pm

I agree; although this is called the "Obligatory Virginia Tech rant," it isn't really directed at Virginia Tech per se. It isn't even really a "rant," but rather a "grumble" about an otherwise interesting evaluation system that has what seems like an odd glitch. This is college football, in which we all bow down before the idea that "Every Game Counts." After all, that's "why we don't need a playoff system." By ignoring FCS games, you do build in a fundamental truth--the vast majority of those games are walkovers, so you are not rewarding a big time team for winning that game. But when the FCS team actually achieves the upset, I think that result tells us something that we should not ignore. I imagine you have wrestled with this issue and haven't come up with a way of solving it that satisfies you, but just pretending the game didn't happen simply doesn't satisfy.

If, in the election of 2000, the Supreme Court had said, "The Florida results are so messed up, we're just going to ignore them and only use 49 states in the electoral college tally," I personally would have liked the outcome a lot more, but I don't think it would have been satisfactory to the overall political process. I know it's not an analogy (unless the BCS starts using only FEI results and Virginia Tech ends up 1 or 2!), but it does suggest that 'leaving things out that we can't deal with' is often a flawed approach.

14
by Brian Fremeau :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 6:29pm

I don't mind the challenge or criticism. I have wrestled with it and will continue to do so. My primary reason for not including the data is that I believe that over the course of the season, the other 11 data points for Virginia Tech will provide a sufficiently accurate rating for the Hokies. At this point, I don't trust that the inclusion of vague data would make for a better rating.

Your analogy is interesting, but I would suggest the following modification. Imagine if, in the election of 2000, Florida was unable to actually count ballots. All they were able to do was look at a giant pile of ballots and judge from a distance which candidate "won" the state. Or let's imagine that every last Florida ballot was destroyed and all we had to go with were reports of early returns and exit poll data.

In the U.S. election, eliminating a state because the data is vague would be improper, I suppose. But if instead of the electoral college the presidency was determined by popular vote, would you advocate for including the estimated Florida data or discarding it?

16
by cfn_ms :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 7:15pm

I would also guess that the main effect of including AA games is not to reward the teams that win big, but to actually punish them, because the schedule hit would be so large (at least for highly-rated teams).

What that ends up meaning is that a highly rated team gets penalized (presuming that their rating is based on some sort of average) for bludgeoning a AA team, almost no matter what the score is (for instance, I could be mistaken, but my impression is that Oregon's 69-0 whitewash of AA Portland St had a net negative effect on their rating in S&P b/c Port St is so bad; again, that's just a guess on my end, I don't have access to the data).

Now, you could certainly argue that there's a net benefit to such an arrangement, since it would serve a larger public interest by discouraging top teams from scheduling those games... but it comes at the cost of less "accurate" ratings. IMO if the goal is accuracy and not to achieve a political goal, I think it's a net negative.

17
by Kal :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 7:27pm

It actually was pretty much neutral. The big hits that Oregon has taken from S&P are from their performances against Tennessee, Arizona State and Washington State. Especially Washington State. For Oregon, the game against Portland State would likely be as valuable as the game against New Mexico - their GE would be pretty stupidly high against a bad opponent.

This is what I could find about Oregon:

after week 2(win over Tennessee): 8th
after week 3 (PSU): 5th
after week 4(ASU): 13th
after week 5(Stan): 15th
after week 6(WSU): 30th
after week 7 (bye): 38th
after week 8 (UCLA): 29th
after week 9 (USC): 18th

The combination of Tennessee sucking, ASU sucking, and UCLA not looking so hot was bad, but the killer has continued to be Washington State. Still, it's incredible to me that beating WSU by 20 (in admittedly a non-dominant fashion) was so much more important to S&P than beating Stanford by 21 or USC by 21.

15
by dbostedo :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 6:37pm

There's nothing wrong with ignoring some data in a predictive system. Outliers are inherently non-predictive moving forward. If we think the loss really is a true outlier in a mathematical sense, then it should be discarded. I think the issue is that we don't really know if it's an outlier.

"I think that result tells us something that we should not ignore."

I'm really not sure it does. It might, if we think it means that VT isn't as good as indicated, but again, it's awfully hard to tell because of the rarity at which these kinds of upsets occur.

21
by Bill Connelly :: Thu, 11/04/2010 - 10:36am

My only addition to the "To FCS or not to FCS" conversation is that S&P+ does take FCS games into account, and Va. Tech only ranks two spots lower there than they do in FEI. Depending on how you want to view it, that could be either a point in favor of including those games, or a point in favor of not including them, I guess.

8
by libelec (not verified) :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 4:57pm

Who are in the Top 5 in SoS?

10
by Kal :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 5:19pm

Tennessee, San Jose State, Washington State, Kentucky, Washington are 1-5.

18
by mm (not verified) :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 11:09pm

Saw the F/+ ratings are up. Oregon up to #10. The state of New Mexico once again has the worst 2 programs in the country.

19
by JJohnson (not verified) :: Thu, 11/04/2010 - 12:17am

I've noticed my alma mater is slowly creeping up the rankings as they continue to tear through C-USA like a buzz saw. Connelly basically brushed them aside when they showed up in the top 20 of his "four truths" rankings. They played NC State and Kansas State close. They could have beaten NCSU and should have beaten KSU. I'm wondering where they would be had they pulled one or even both out.

20
by Bill Connelly :: Thu, 11/04/2010 - 10:32am

I beg to differ on the "brushing aside" comment. :-) I just said they looked a little peculiar being in the Top 20 (and they did). But yeah, they have certainly looked strong as of late. I'd say that Four Truths list did a good job of predicting teams that were looking stronger and stronger ... but Cal was right ahead of UCF on the list, so I guess that's out the window.