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14 Sep 2011

FEI: All Three Phases

by Brian Fremeau

It’s only been two weeks. Georgia fans are ready to dump Mark Richt and Notre Dame fans are apoplectic over red zone turnovers, but it’s appropriate to remember that it has only been two weeks. That goes double for teams off to a hot start against predominantly weak opposition. For some programs, we won’t have a solid handle on their true strengths and weaknesses before midseason.

Can we draw long-term conclusions from the results of the last couple of weekends? Not definitively, but that won’t reassure the fan bases in Athens or South Bend. There are recent examples of 0-2 teams turning things around in a big way. Virginia Tech last season steamrolled to a BCS bowl game after facing the bleakest of beginnings. Of course, there are many other examples of teams stumbling out of the gate and never quite finding their footing. No one is predicting Georgia or Notre Dame to have a disastrous 2011, but both teams are almost certain to fall short of their preseason BCS goals.

It hurts to have to face that reality so early in the season. But at least those teams challenged themselves with early-season tests. Only five games have been played so far this year between teams currently ranked in the FEI top 25, and four of them involved either Georgia (vs. Boise State, vs. South Carolina) or Notre Dame (vs. South Florida, vs. Michigan). (The other? LSU vs. Oregon in JerryWorld.)

There is no guarantee that those teams will remain in the top 25, so this is possibly a mere fleeting observation, but the void of top interconference scheduling and the competitive nature of the few games that have been played means that the FEI ratings will continue to remain fairly stable.

Many other teams ranked in the top 25 have dominated bad opponents as expected. In the new Unit Value Splits analysis I am providing this year, the high scores rolled up by many teams at the top of the FEI ratings have been mostly produced by exceptional offensive efficiency and often coupled with either dominant defense or special teams play. But there have been examples of teams winning all three phases of the game.

This is a somewhat arbitrary line to draw, but I pulled out only the games thus far in 2011 in which the winning team contributed at least seven points of scoring margin value via its offense, defense and special teams play in the game. In 2010, only 17 victories out of the 718 FBS games played (2.4 percent) would qualify and only two teams were able to pull off the feat twice (Oregon vs. New Mexico and Washington; Utah vs. New Mexico and San Jose State). This year, the Florida Gators are already two for two, earning at least a touchdown advantage in all three phases of the game in victories over both Florida Atlantic and UAB.

Winning Teams Earning At Least Seven Points In Offense, Defense, and Special Teams Unit Value
Date Team Opponent Final
Score
Non-Garbage
Final
Off Def ST Ex
9/3/11 Florida Florida Atlantic W 41-3 W 31-3 +9.8 +9.6 +10.5 -1.9
9/10/11 Florida UAB W 39-0 W 39-0 +18.8 +11.0 +7.3 +1.9
9/3/11 Florida State Louisiana Monroe W 34-0 W 27-0 +8.9 +10.8 +7.2 0.0
9/3/11 Stanford San Jose State W 57-3 W 36-3 +7.5 +15.0 +10.5 -0.0

It will be a few weeks before we debut opponent-adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency ratings, so the significance of this kind of distinction isn’t particularly high. Almost all of the teams last year that were beat by more than a touchdown in all three phases of the game were mediocre or weak. The best team to suffer a seven point deficit in all three phases of a game in 2010 was No. 37 Arizona State, losing 50-10 to California in October.

FEI Week 2 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 10. 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 1-0 .310 1 .212 22 .053 4 9.1 8.3
2 Alabama 2-0 .303 2 .274 17 .093 11 9.3 7.5
3 Oklahoma 1-0 .249 3 .503 8 .289 57 10.6 9.6
4 Florida State 1-0 .241 4 .429 10 .154 16 8.8 7.8
5 Virginia Tech 1-0 .224 7 .091 41 .432 82 9.6 8.7
6 Florida 2-0 .221 14 .638 5 .037 2 7.5 5.6
7 Boise State 1-0 .220 5 .154 31 .607 105 11.2 10.6
8 Wisconsin 2-0 .216 11 .730 2 .331 68 9.3 7.3
9 West Virginia 1-0 .211 8 .333 13 .160 21 8.5 7.5
10 Clemson 1-0 .207 10 .157 30 .087 10 7.5 6.5
11 Auburn 2-0 .205 9 .063 46 .025 1 6.9 5.0
12 Ohio State 2-0 .205 6 .248 20 .238 38 9.7 7.7
Rank Team FBS
W-L
FEI Last
Wk
GE GE
Rk
SOS SOS
Rk
FBS
MW
FBS
RMW
13 Oregon 1-1 .184 15 .134 35 .204 29 8.8 7.6
14 Arkansas 1-0 .177 13 .556 6 .059 5 7.4 6.5
15 South Carolina 2-0 .174 22 .098 39 .154 17 7.2 5.8
16 Stanford 2-0 .173 12 .474 9 .487 93 10.3 8.4
17 Pittsburgh 1-0 .151 16 .143 34 .263 45 7.7 6.8
18 Michigan 2-0 .149 23 .190 25 .304 62 9.0 7.4
19 North Carolina State 0-1 .148 17 -.083 76 .245 41 6.6 5.8
20 South Florida 2-0 .144 20 .181 26 .253 42 7.6 6.1
21 Oklahoma State 2-0 .135 27 .274 18 .327 67 8.9 7.1
22 Georgia 0-2 .132 21 -.087 79 .191 23 6.6 5.8
23 Nebraska 1-0 .130 28 .133 36 .220 32 7.3 6.3
24 Notre Dame 0-2 .123 18 -.036 69 .194 25 7.4 6.5
25 Maryland 1-0 .119 30 .114 37 .129 15 6.0 5.4

Posted by: Brian Fremeau on 14 Sep 2011

7 comments, Last at 15 Sep 2011, 5:31pm by Brian Fremeau

Comments

1
by brandond03 :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 2:29pm

Brian,

Does Wash St present the biggest gap between Rank and Game Effeciency ever?

Go Gators and Go Navy

7
by Brian Fremeau :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 5:31pm

Indeed. It's a big reason why preseason projections are included, otherwise Washington State might be in the top-10. Probably are a little better than their rating, but they almost certainly won't remain the number one team in Game Efficiency for the season either.

2
by zlionsfan :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 2:47pm

FEI seems pretty high on Purdue, comparatively speaking. I thought FEI would give the Boilers a ruler on the backs of their hands for the Rice debacle.

3
by ccanad (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 3:30pm

The offense has been very effective. In particular, look at the production when in the Shotgun Tight F21 formation, as broken down here:

http://gatorsfirst.com/index.php/florida-gators-sports-news/gatorsfirst/...

4
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 4:33pm

Is it any surprise Florida cleaned FAU's clock? Besides being a traditionally awful team, they may not be quite as good as Youngstown State, a 3-8 FCS team. This is pretty much the caliber of team Florida always plays this time of year.

5
by Alexander :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 11:08am

Pitt is 2-0 Buffalo and Maine.

6
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 2:27pm

The table is FBS wins. Maine is an FCS team.