Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

05 Sep 2012

FEI Week 1: Revisionist Box Scores

by Brian Fremeau

The only thing that matters in the end is winning and losing. That's a common refrain among college football fans, and it is the ultimate benchmark against which programs and coaches are judged. We collect and analyze thousands of additional data points over the course of each season, but those stats are only part of the picture. If it doesn't lead to victory or defeat, it probably isn't worth measuring.

I wrote a feature article for a Lindy's Sports magazine this summer previewing the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and it was all about turnovers. The Irish were prone to costly red zone interceptions and fumbles and also had a very difficult time generating turnovers defensively last year. Worse, Notre Dame's costliest mistakes came in situations that made all the difference between winning and losing.

I introduced a new statistic in the article, Total Turnover Value (TTV), a measure of not just the exchange in field position of the turnover event, but also of the offensive drive value generated prior to the miscue. An interception or fumble is a bad play no matter when it happens, but it is even more costly to an offense when it negates drive value already earned.

We can also extract TTV data to evaluate the performance of each team in a turnover -neutral environment. In other words, how successful was a team on a drive up until the moment just before the turnover occurred? And once we do isolate TTV data, we can measure how much of an impact turnovers had on the final outcome of the game.

It isn't just turnovers that can flip a game in one team's favor, either. A team can win the offensive and defensive battle drive by drive until a special teams play or two swings the pendulum in the other direction. And field position values often hinge on turnovers and special teams as well as offensive and defensive drive success. Field position can also prove to be the difference in the final score.

I plan to make this a regular feature here in the FEI column, a "Revisionist Box Score," if you will, identifying the games each week that were most impacted by turnovers, special teams, field position, or all three. This isn't intended to provide a "coulda, woulda, shoulda" excuse for teams on the wrong end of a given game, and it certainly won't make us reconsider actual win-loss records. Turnovers, special teams, and field position are part of the game. Hopefully though, these tables will provide a bit more context for the season as it plays out.

Week 1 Games In Which Total Turnover Value Exceeded Non-Garbage Final Score Margin
Date Winning Team Non-Garbage
Final Score
Losing Team TTV
+
TTV
-
TTV
Net
TO Neutral
Score Margin
8/31 Stanford 20-17 San Jose State 7.0 0.0 7.0 -4.0
9/1 Iowa 18-17 Northern Illinois 4.0 0.0 4.0 -3.0
9/1 Miami 41-30 Boston College 16.7 3.0 13.7 -2.7
9/1 Northwestern 42-41 Syracuse 16.7 3.4 13.3 -12.3
9/1 Ohio 24-14 Penn State 10.5 0.0 10.5 -0.5
9/1 UTSA 33-31 South Alabama 13.5 5.2 8.3 -6.3
9/1 Washington 21-12 San Diego State 16.5 4.5 12.0 -3.0
9/3 Virginia Tech 20-17 Georgia Tech 5.3 0.0 5.3 -2.3

Week 1 Games In Which Special Teams Value Exceeded Non-Garbage Final Score Margin
Date Winning Team Non-Garbage
Final Score
Losing Team STV
+
STV Neutral
Score Margin
9/1 Florida 27-14 Bowling Green 13.2 -0.2
9/1 Iowa 18-17 Northern Illinois 2.5 -1.5
9/1 Northwestern 42-41 Syracuse 8.9 -7.9
9/1 UTSA 33-31 South Alabama 4.2 -2.2

Week 1 Games In Which Field Position Value Exceeded Non-Garbage Final Score Margin
Date Winning Team Non-Garbage
Final Score
Losing Team FPV
+
FPV
-
FPV
Net
FPV Neutral
Score Margin
8/31 Stanford 20-17 San Jose State 20.1 14.7 5.6 -2.6
9/1 Iowa 18-17 Northern Illinois 24.2 15.8 8.4 -7.4
9/1 Miami 41-30 Boston College 32.2 18.0 14.2 -3.2
9/1 Northwestern 42-41 Syracuse 39.3 25.0 14.3 -13.3
9/1 Washington 21-12 San Diego State 24.3 14.0 10.3 -1.3
9/3 Virginia Tech 20-17 Georgia Tech 25.9 21.6 4.3 -1.3

The numbers in these tables overlap, so we can't combine them without double-counting values exchanged on particular plays. It will be particularly interesting for me to see how often close games could have been turned if not for turnovers, special teams, field position, or a combination of all three. More than 20 percent of the opening weekend's games were impacted, and I would expect that number to climb as games as more games are competitively contested throughout.

FEI Week 1 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 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.

Offensive Efficiency (OE) is the raw unadjusted efficiency of the given team's offense, a measure of its actual drive success against expected drive success based on field position. Defensive Efficiency (DE) is the raw unadjusted efficiency of the given team's defense, a measure of the actual drive success of its opponents against expected drive success based on field position. Field Position Advantage (FPA) is the share of the value of total starting field position earned by each team against its opponents.

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. Opponent-adjusted offensive and defensive FEI ratings will also debut in Week 7.

These FEI ratings are a function of results of games played through September 3. 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
OE OE
Rk
DE DE
Rk
FPA FPA
Rk
1 Alabama 1-0 .311 1 .335 12 .089 25 9.3 8.5 .358 20 -.334 25 .684 2
2 Oklahoma 1-0 .281 2 .187 17 .082 22 8.8 7.9 .092 29 -.802 4 .494 43
3 LSU 1-0 .268 3 .367 9 .074 18 8.7 7.7 .612 10 -.674 9 .633 9
4 Florida 1-0 .230 5 .138 24 .072 16 7.8 6.9 -.205 46 -.279 30 .575 24
5 USC 1-0 .229 4 .476 6 .261 63 10.2 9.2 .398 18 -1.225 2 .651 3
6 Ohio State 1-0 .228 7 .275 15 .248 60 10.1 9.1 .386 19 -.383 20 .599 19
7 West Virginia 1-0 .224 12 .500 4 .094 28 8.1 7.2 2.400 1 -.015 51 .556 28
8 Virginia Tech 1-0 .223 14 .034 37 .061 8 7.5 6.8 -.284 54 -.428 16 .545 31
9 Notre Dame 1-0 .222 18 .504 2 .059 7 8.5 7.5 1.438 5 -.532 12 .641 5
10 Florida State 0-0 .215 6 - - .106 30 7.7 7.7 - - - - - -
11 Georgia 1-0 .215 10 .251 16 .135 38 8.2 7.2 .327 21 -.247 33 .633 8
12 Clemson 1-0 .205 19 .091 30 .115 33 7.7 7.1 .477 16 -.158 38 .447 54
Rank Team FBS
W-L
FEI Last
Wk
GE GE
Rk
SOS SOS
Rk
FBS
MW
FBS
RMW
OE OE
Rk
DE DE
Rk
FPA FPA
Rk
13 Oklahoma State 0-0 .204 9 - - .106 31 8.2 8.2 - - - - - -
14 Oregon 1-0 .201 8 .503 3 .346 79 9.3 8.3 1.167 6 -.469 13 .584 22
15 Texas 1-0 .199 13 .286 14 .078 21 8.4 7.5 .801 7 .008 52 .572 25
16 Georgia Tech 0-1 .188 25 -.034 46 .098 29 7.3 7.0 -.428 67 -.284 29 .455 52
17 South Carolina 1-0 .188 17 .050 35 .061 10 6.8 6.1 -.375 62 -.667 10 .398 65
18 Stanford 1-0 .178 11 .039 36 .215 53 9.2 8.2 -.088 41 -.151 39 .578 23
19 Arkansas 0-0 .177 15 - - .089 26 7.7 7.7 - - - - - -
20 Nebraska 1-0 .170 29 .420 7 .196 48 7.9 7.0 1.745 2 -.223 35 .478 47
21 Miami 1-0 .170 40 .121 27 .062 11 5.9 5.4 .278 23 .232 59 .642 4
22 TCU 0-0 .168 16 - - .078 20 7.1 7.1 - - - - - -
23 Tennessee 1-0 .165 36 .143 23 .073 17 6.7 6.2 .173 25 -.254 32 .567 27
24 Michigan State 1-0 .160 26 .052 34 .165 46 8.2 7.5 -.298 55 -.800 5 .406 63
25 Auburn 0-1 .154 22 -.091 53 .058 5 6.4 6.0 -.158 45 .477 67 .553 29

Posted by: Brian Fremeau on 05 Sep 2012

3 comments, Last at 06 Sep 2012, 12:15am by Jake

Comments

1
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 09/05/2012 - 3:34pm

That VT-GT game is skewed by a 23 yard loss on a bad punt snap, which while technically not a turnover, was as good as one, considering it was worth about 55 yards in field position.

2
by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/05/2012 - 3:59pm

What, Minnesota drops from the low 90s, to the high 90s, after being road warriors with swagger in a triple ot win at UNLV?

FEI sucks!

3
by Jake (not verified) :: Thu, 09/06/2012 - 12:15am

Will S&P ratings be updated for week1 soon?