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21 Sep 2011

FEI: Early Returns

by Brian Fremeau

Voters can’t help themselves sometimes. Two teams perceived to be ranked among the top five teams in the country square off in a game that was fiercely competitive throughout. Both defenses are especially stout in defending the red zone and both teams appear capable of running the table for the rest of the regular season. But one team won and one team lost, and that means something has to change on the writers and coaches ballots. But does it?

Regular readers won’t be surprised to see how the FEI ratings handled this weekend’s Florida State vs. Oklahoma clash. The two teams were top five foes heading into the contest and there was little evidence in the game itself to suggest that the rankings were off the mark. The top four teams in this week’s ratings are the same as last week: LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Florida State.

What need is there to drop a team that performs as expected? If Florida State struggles against its ACC schedule going forward, sure, that would be a strong indication that the Seminoles' ranking needs to be adjusted. However, if a team plays a competitive game against one of the strongest teams in the country, win or lose, that ought to be a validation of its lofty rating. Poll anchoring and the loss column dictate too many decisions for poll voters though, and so Florida State drops. While most other top ranked teams haven’t tested themselves, the loss to Oklahoma means that the Seminoles will need others to lose in order to regain their preseason position.

It’s not terribly punitive at this point in the year and there will be plenty of opportunity for Florida State to ascend back to the top. But the timing of a similar decision later in the year happens all too often. Teams should be rewarded for playing tough schedules, not punished. And when top teams play one another competitively, it should be viewed as evidence that they are still both top teams.

FEI Watches a Game: Oklahoma vs. Florida State

Oklahoma Possession-by-Possession Unit Value Splits
Drive Possession Start End P Y Result Okla
Off
Okla
Def
Okla
ST
Okla
Ex
Score Poss
Mar
1 Oklahoma own 20 - 15 80 TD (+XP) 5.7 0.0 -0.3 1.6 7-0 +7
2 Florida State own 25 opp 35 11 40 FG 0.4 0.6 -2.0 -1.9 7-3 -3
3 Oklahoma own 18 own 47 6 29 Int -1.2 -0.2 -0.4 1.9 7-3 -
4 Florida State opp 45 opp 17 7 28 Int -1 2.9 0.0 -1.9 7-3 -
5 Oklahoma own 35 own 35 3 0 Punt -1.9 0.0 0.0 1.9 7-3 -
6 Florida State own 14 own 23 4 9 Punt 0.3 1.1 0.5 -1.9 7-3 -
7 Oklahoma own 33 opp 4 8 63 FG 0.9 0.1 0.1 1.9 10-3 +3
8 Florida State own 25 50 7 25 Int 0.2 1.5 0.2 -1.9 10-3 -
9 Oklahoma opp 3 opp 12 4 -9 FG -3.4 4 0.5 1.9 13-3 +3
Drive Possession Start End P Y Result Okla
Off
Okla
Def
Okla
ST
Okla
Ex
Score Poss
Mar
10 Florida State own 37 own 27 3 -10 Punt 0.0 2.0 -0.3 -1.6 13-3 -
11 Oklahoma own 31 own 38 5 7 Punt -1.7 0.1 -0.2 1.9 13-3 -
12 Florida State own 11 own 48 7 37 Punt 0.4 1.0 0.5 -1.9 13-3 -
13 Oklahoma own 16 own 28 3 12 Int -1.1 -0.7 -0.1 1.9 13-3 -
14 Florida State own 22 opp 28 8 50 FG 0.6 -0.3 -1.3 -1.9 13-6 -3
15 Oklahoma own 20 own 44 4 24 Punt -1.3 -0.2 -0.4 1.9 13-6 -
16 Florida State own 10 own 25 4 15 Punt 0.6 0.9 0.4 -1.9 13-6 -
17 Oklahoma own 2 own 1 3 -1 Punt -0.7 0.0 -1.2 1.9 13-6 -
18 Florida State opp 38 - 3 38 TD (+XP) -1.3 -3.6 -0.1 -1.9 13-13 -7
19 Oklahoma own 17 - 8 83 TD (+XP) 5.8 -0.3 -0.4 1.9 20-13 +7
20 Florida State own 20 own 33 4 13 Int 0.3 1.3 0.4 -1.9 20-13 -
21 Oklahoma opp 46 opp 14 8 32 FG -0.5 1.0 0.6 1.9 23-13 +3
22 Florida State own 17 own 10 4 -7 Downs 0.2 1.2 0.5 -1.9 23-13 -
Drive Possession Start End P Y Result Okla
Off
Okla
Def
Okla
ST
Okla
Ex
Score Poss
Mar
23 Oklahoma opp 10 opp 14 2 -4 Half -5.3 3.4 0.0 1.9 23-13 -
Okla
Off
Okla
Def
Okla
ST
Okla
Ex
Score Poss
Mar
Non-Garbage
Total
1.3 12.0 -3.3 0.0 23-13 +10

Unit Value Split totals for every FBS game can be found here.

Oklahoma’s defense played the most significant role in generating the scoring margin value. The Sooners picked off the Seminoles three times and earned a total of 10.7 points of scoring margin value on those plays alone.

The first interception ended a Florida State scoring threat (+2.9) but did not result in field position for the next drive. The second interception, before the end of the first half, ended an FSU drive (+1.5) and put the Sooners on the doorstep for another score (+4.0). Settling for a field goal is all on the offense -– the defense earned almost twice the value of a field goal with the interception and return. A late second-half interception (+1.3) also positioned Oklahoma in opponent territory (+1.0), which led to another field goal to pad the lead.

Over the course of the rest of the game, the Oklahoma defense (+1.3) and offense (+1.3) had an equal contribution to the victory. Oklahoma's long touchdown drives were the most valuable offensive possessions of the game, and the Sooners miscues weren't as costly (-2.7 total). Turnovers are a significant factor in any game, of course, especially when they result in a field position advantage.

Mean Wins Update

The FEI top-25 has been fairly stable over the course of the first few weeks of the season. Most of the top teams have met expectations or played reasonably close to them, and the influence of the preseason projections on the ratings (roughly 60 percent at this point) is still a big factor.

Several teams further down in the ratings have either far exceeded preseason FEI projections or stumbled out of the gate. The projected Mean Wins that accompany the weekly ratings can be used in a couple of ways. The official 'MW' column represents the average total games a team with the given FEI rating should expect to win against its complete schedule of FBS opponents. The 'RMW' column represents the victories that team should expect to tally from this point forward. To get a read on a projected end-of-year record for every team according to FEI, we need to take the sum of Remaining Mean Wins and actual wins to date.

The following table represents the five teams that have improved their season win projection most dramatically in the first three weeks of the year, and the five teams that are now projected to fall well short of their preseason outlook according to FEI. Good news for FIU, not so good for Boston College.

FEI Season Win Projection Top Five Risers
FEI
Rank
Team FBS
W-L
Preseason
Proj MW
Current
Proj MW
Change +/-
47 Florida International 3-0 6.8 10.2 +3.4
68 Iowa State 2-0 1.9 4.7 +2.8
81 Louisiana Lafayette 1-1 2.9 5.5 +2.6
51 Ohio 2-0 5.5 8.1 +2.6
31 Utah 1-1 5.7 8.1 +2.4
FEI Season Win Projection Bottom Five Fallers
FEI
Rank
Team FBS
W-L
Preseason
Proj MW
Current
Proj MW
Change +/-
77 Mississippi 0-2 4.3 2.0 -2.3
111 Kent State 0-3 4.9 2.4 -2.5
46 Connecticut 0-2 6.8 4.2 -2.6
117 UAB 0-2 4.5 1.6 -2.9
63 Boston College 0-3 5.7 1.1 -4.6

FEI Week 3 Top 25

The Fremeau Efficiency Index (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. SOS listed here includes 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 RMW) represent the average expected team wins for games scheduled but not yet played.

Only games between FBS teams are considered in the FEI calculations. Since limited data is available in the early part of the season, preseason projections are factored into the current ratings. The weight given to projected data will be reduced each week until Week 7, when it will be eliminated entirely. Offensive and defensive FEI ratings will also debut in Week 7.

These FEI ratings are a function of results of games played through September 17. The ratings for all FBS teams can be found here.

Rank Team FBS
W-L
FEI Last
Wk
GE GE
Rk
SOS SOS
Rk
FBS
MW
FBS
RMW
1 LSU 2-0 .300 1 .186 17 .073 5 9.1 7.4
2 Alabama 3-0 .281 2 .340 8 .130 16 9.3 6.4
3 Oklahoma 2-0 .272 3 .312 11 .233 46 10.7 9.2
4 Florida State 1-1 .250 4 .121 35 .129 15 8.8 7.3
5 Wisconsin 3-0 .243 8 .707 2 .428 80 9.9 6.9
6 Virginia Tech 2-0 .234 5 .165 26 .337 72 9.5 7.6
7 Boise State 2-0 .230 7 .187 16 .596 105 11.3 9.8
8 West Virginia 2-0 .220 9 .175 21 .147 18 8.5 6.9
9 Florida 3-0 .216 6 .400 7 .054 2 7.6 4.8
10 Clemson 2-0 .213 10 .170 24 .077 6 7.6 5.9
11 Stanford 3-0 .191 16 .431 6 .481 89 10.5 7.7
12 Oregon 1-1 .177 13 .134 31 .214 41 8.7 7.5
Rank Team FBS
W-L
FEI Last
Wk
GE GE
Rk
SOS SOS
Rk
FBS
MW
FBS
RMW
13 South Carolina 3-0 .173 15 .091 41 .164 23 7.3 5.2
14 Arkansas 2-0 .168 14 .330 9 .083 7 7.4 5.5
15 Georgia Tech 2-0 .166 27 .606 4 .191 33 7.5 5.6
16 Miami 1-1 .162 29 .021 52 .085 8 6.8 5.8
17 Oklahoma State 3-0 .162 21 .293 12 .263 55 9.2 6.4
18 Ohio State 2-1 .160 12 .126 34 .210 39 8.8 6.5
19 Michigan 3-0 .155 18 .261 13 .346 73 9.3 6.7
20 South Florida 2-0 .151 20 .181 19 .222 44 7.5 6.0
21 Pittsburgh 1-1 .144 17 .044 47 .205 38 7.2 5.8
22 Maryland 1-1 .143 25 .012 54 .098 11 6.2 5.3
23 North Carolina State 0-1 .141 19 -.083 80 .192 34 6.2 5.4
24 Auburn 2-1 .139 11 -.012 62 .032 1 5.7 3.7
25 Georgia 0-2 .137 22 -.087 84 .178 28 6.7 5.9

Posted by: Brian Fremeau on 21 Sep 2011

9 comments, Last at 22 Sep 2011, 2:09pm by Cal alum

Comments

1
by Treima :: Wed, 09/21/2011 - 11:35am

You are correct. There is no logic in having a team drop in the polls because of a close loss to a team ranked slightly higher. Which is why I personally trust FEI and F/+ more than subjective polls written by the same hacks that heap lavish praise on the middling teams in my home state.

2
by ClemsonMatt (not verified) :: Wed, 09/21/2011 - 11:49am

So...what I heard was the people that will drop Clemson to 40th in the polls if FSU wins by a field goal are idiots.

3
by young curmudgeon :: Wed, 09/21/2011 - 1:38pm

Brian, how do you reconcile your statement: "Teams should be rewarded for playing tough schedules, not punished. And when top teams play one another competitively, it should be viewed as evidence that they are still both top teams" with your refusal/inability to even take into consideration a loss to an FCS/I-AA team, such as Michigan's loss to Appalachian State a few years back?

So a loss to a good team doesn't hurt your FEI rating, a loss to a team you scheduled assuming it was a cupcake doesn't hurt your FEI rating, I was glad to see that if FSU manages to lose a few ACC games, you'll consider whether their rating "needs to be adjusted."

Still a few bugs in the system.

5
by White Rose Duelist :: Wed, 09/21/2011 - 2:01pm

The issue was not that the loss to an FCS school doesn't matter, the issue was that quantifying it is next to impossible. Interconnectedness is hard enough to come by with 120 teams each of which has at most 3 games against non-conference opponents, without trying to figure out how good various I-AA schools. And a loss like that is such an unlikely occurrence that trying to fit it into FEI did more damage to the system than allowing a team to have an inflated rating because the loss was ignored.

Certainly a bug in the system, but not intentional ignorance.

4
by Maven (not verified) :: Wed, 09/21/2011 - 1:53pm

I think the notion of anchoring and loss-dropping matters a LOT late in the season, but at this point we honestly don't have sufficient data to prove that either Oklahoma or FSU are good programs.

Loss-dropping makes sense in this context. Losses without a winning body of work doesn't prove quality. That loss should then count for less and less if Oklahoma pounds the Big12 (and the big 12 looks good) and FSU pounds the ACC. But if it ends up that each team ends the year with 4 losses, its likely that FSUs loss in this game indicates it was the inferior of two decent teams, not the inferior of two great teams.

At the end of the year, loss-dropping makes a LOT less sense. When OSU and Michigan played it so close, many people could and did make the argument that loss-dropping was just bad (then they each got crushed - making the argument a lot less compelling). That makes sense at least to an extent.

A close game between two programs generally means the programs are pretty similar in strength. There is a strong tendency to see that and elevate both programs, when in reality it often should denigrate both programs.

"Oklahoma managed 3 interceptions but only won by 10 - they must have a dysfunctional offense not worthy of being #1" is equally valid a critique, and one that perhaps should be applied with more regularity.

6
by Jeff Fogle :: Wed, 09/21/2011 - 4:10pm

Reasons why it might be reasonable for FSU to drop...

*They lost by 10 at home, suggesting an even bigger loss on a neutral field.

*They were outgained 310-256, with 22% of their yardage coming on one play when OU defenders mistimed their jumps on 3rd and very long.

*They lost yards-per-play 4.7 to 4.1 (which drops to 3.2 without the TD).

*Their longest scoring drive of the game was 50 yards (according to ESPN's drive chart anyway). Oklahoma had touchdown drives of 80 and 83 yards, and a field goal drive of 63 yards.

*They lost turnovers 3-2.

*They couldn't run the ball at all, gaining 27 rushing yards on 26 carries (while getting outrushed 111-27).

It's true that they lost their #1 QB to injury in the second half (on a hard tackle from a physical opponent). But, FSU's only TD came with the backup...so it's hard to say the numbers were too polluted by the injury. FSU only had 3 points on the board at halftime...and until very late in the third quarter.

Tough to call that a game between two evenly matched teams (which 3 vs. 4 should be in a rankings system...they should be virtually interchangeable at that level) given that the game was in Tallahassee.

OU was -3 on the road in the markets....which means at least -6 on a neutral field going in. I'm not suggesting FSU should plummet. Tough case to make I think that these two should still be sitting next to each other in the rankings. And, FSU's FEI went up from .241 to .250 despite getting outscored and outstatted on their home field (?). This wasn't a hardfought battle on a neutral field. It was a hardfought battle in Tallahasee where the road team won by 10 points, with stats that would be in line with a 10-point win counting the extra turnover.

7
by brandond03 :: Wed, 09/21/2011 - 4:23pm

We may need an explination as to why the FEI went up .009 while the GE dropped .567 from 0.429 to -0.138

Go Gators and Go Navy

8
by brandond03 :: Wed, 09/21/2011 - 4:33pm

Fresno State is -0.138 FSU is at 0.121 representing a drop of 0.308.

Go Gators and Go Navy

9
by Cal alum (not verified) :: Thu, 09/22/2011 - 2:09pm

I am convinced that early season rankings are just for television to promote their games and to give sports writers and talk shows material to discuss. The picture is clarified when only a dozen schools remain undefeated. And the rankings only reflect true team strength as the season comes to a close.