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31 Oct 2012

FEI Week 9: And Then There Were Four

by Brian Fremeau

What do we know and what do we think we know? This question is on my mind every year entering the final month of the season. By this point in the year, the best teams in the nation have typically played one or more games in which they demonstrated their case for the championship. We want to have arguments settled on the field, and though the number of games played between contenders will never be enough, the games that are played provide valuable, measurable data.

At the moment, there are four clear contenders for the national championship game: Alabama, Oregon, Kansas State, and Notre Dame. It is certainly possible that all four will still lose before the end of the season, but it is also possible that all four will win out. Either way, it is likely that the debate over the BCS championship game participants will be as intense as ever.

How do the contenders match up? It’s a really interesting question at this point because of the differences in schedule strength to date. According to FEI data, Notre Dame and Kansas State have distinguished themselves from Alabama and Oregon by having already played the toughest stretches of their respective schedules. It would be easier for an elite team to have gone undefeated against the Crimson Tide or Ducks schedule to date three times than to go undefeated against the Notre Dame or Kansas State schedule once.

For many, the eyeball test trumps the resume test every time. I don’t fault anyone for thinking that Alabama and Oregon are the two best teams in the country. They very well may be. We might assume that the Ducks would have dominated Notre Dame’s schedule to date more impressively than the Irish did. We might assume that Alabama would crush everyone more efficiently than Kansas State. But we don’t have much data on hand yet to know for sure.

The table below ranks every FBS game played to date by the four contenders according to opponent-adjusted Game Efficiency (GFEI). The overall FEI ratings of each team are a function of these single-game measures and the relevance factor of each game.

Opponent Adjusted Game Efficiency (GFEI)
Team Score Opponent GFEI Rk
Kansas State 55-14 West Virginia .793 1
Notre Dame 30-13 Oklahoma .739 2
Oregon 49-0 Arizona .681 6
Kansas State 24-19 Oklahoma .678 7
Alabama 52-0 Arkansas .647 8
Kansas State 55-24 Texas Tech .634 9
Oregon 43-21 Arizona State .597 11
Notre Dame 20-3 Michigan State .588 12
Alabama 44-13 Tennessee .546 18
Alabama 41-14 Michigan .508 23
Alabama 38-7 Mississippi State .428 40
Oregon 52-21 Washington .425 42
Kansas State 27-21 Iowa State .418 45
Notre Dame 41-3 Miami .412 47
Alabama 35-0 Western Kentucky .401 49
Notre Dame 50-10 Navy .396 52
Kansas State 52-13 Miami .388 55
Notre Dame 20-13 Stanford .367 63
Alabama 42-10 Missouri .309 82
Oregon 70-14 Colorado .297 89
Notre Dame 17-14 BYU .252 110
Oregon 42-25 Fresno State .245 112
Notre Dame 13-6 Michigan .206 143
Oregon 57-34 Arkansas State .178 158
Alabama 33-14 Mississippi .161 167
Kansas State 56-16 Kansas .150 175
Oregon 51-26 Washington State .146 181
Alabama 40-7 Florida Atlantic .125 188
Kansas State 35-21 North Texas -.070 326
Notre Dame 20-17 Purdue -.175 390

For as strongly as I believe in the FEI ratings, I know that they are just one tool to evaluate college football teams and games. I wrote yesterday about how Kansas State has distinguished themselves as the No. 1 team in the land. By the data above, the Wildcats' best three games compare well to the combination of the best single games played by Notre Dame, Oregon and Alabama.

But you can carve this data up in many ways. Combined, these four teams have recorded 10 of the best 25 games performances of the year and 15 of the best 50. Alabama claims five of those 15, Kansas State has four, Oregon and Notre Dame have three apiece. Among top-100 games played, Alabama has six, Notre Dame and Kansas State have five, and Oregon has four.

If you're curious about how the FEI ratings shake out over the final month of the season, this table is a great indicator that all four teams are in the mix. Oregon has three solid opponents down the stretch in USC, Oregon State, and Stanford and has an opportunity to make the same kind of statement in each that Kansas State has already made. Alabama likewise has marquee matchups against LSU and Texas A&M in the next two weeks. There is always chaos, but more importantly, there are always opportunities for the top teams to rise above the chaos and distinguish themselves.

Week 9 Revisionist Box Scores

This weekly feature identifies the games played each week that were most impacted by turnovers, special teams, field position, or some combination of the three. The neutralized margin of victory is a function of the point values earned and surrendered based on field position and expected scoring rates.

Week 9 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
10/26 Louisville 34-31 Cincinnati 9.5 3.6 5.9 -2.9
10/27 Arizona 39-36 USC 14.0 2.1 11.9 -8.9
10/27 Georgia 17-9 Florida 25.5 12.3 13.2 -5.2
10/27 Houston 45-35 UTEP 27.0 8.1 18.9 -8.9
10/27 Kent State 35-23 Rutgers 24.9 7.3 17.6 -5.6
10/27 Syracuse 37-36 South Florida 3.8 0.0 3.8 -2.8
10/27 Washington 20-17 Oregon State 12.7 2.8 9.9 -6.9
10/27 Western Kentucky 14-6 Florida International 17.5 4.5 13.0 -5.0

Week 9 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
10/27 Boston College 20-17 Maryland 7.9 -4.9
10/27 Mississippi 30-27 Arkansas 7.3 -4.3
10/27 North Carolina 43-35 North Carolina State 10.4 -2.4
10/27 Texas 21-17 Kansas 5.8 -1.8

Week 9 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
10/27 Arizona 39-36 USC 31.7 24.1 7.6 -4.6
10/27 Houston 45-35 UTEP 39.5 28.9 10.6 -0.6
10/27 Mississippi 30-27 Arkansas 27.4 21.4 6.0 -3.0
10/27 Syracuse 37-36 South Florida 20.2 15.3 4.9 -1.9
10/27 Texas 21-17 Kansas 25.2 13.7 11.5 -7.5

2012 totals to date:

  • Net Total Turnover Value was the difference in 73 of 455 FBS games (16.0 percent)
  • Net Special Teams Value was the difference in 36 of 455 FBS games (7.9 percent)
  • Net Field Position Value was the difference in 45 of 455 FBS games (9.9 percent)
  • Turnovers, Special Teams and/or Field Position was the difference in 103 of 455 FBS games (22.6 percent)

2012 Game Splits for all teams, including the offensive, defensive, special teams, field position, and turnover values recorded in each FBS game are provided here.

FEI Week 9 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.

Other definitions:

  • SOS Pvs: Strength of schedule to date, based on the likelihood of an elite team going undefeated against the given team's schedule to date.
  • SOS Fut: Strength of schedule, based on the likelihood of an elite team going undefeated against the given team's remaining schedule.
  • FBS MW: Mean Wins, the average number of games a team with the given FEI rating would be expected to win against its entire schedule.
  • FBS RMW: Remaining Mean Wins, the average number of games a team with the given FEI rating would be expected to win against its remaining schedule.
  • OFEI: Offensive FEI, the opponent-adjusted efficiency of the given team's offense.
  • DFEI: Defensive FEI, the opponent-adjusted efficiency of the given team's defense.
  • STE: Special Teams Efficiency, the scoring value earned by field goal, punt and kickoff units measured in points per average game.
  • FPA: Field Position Advantage, the share of the value of total starting field position earned by each team against its opponents.

These FEI ratings are a function of results of games played through October 27th. The ratings for all FBS teams, including FEI splits for Offense, Defense, and Special Teams can be found here. Program FEI (five-year weighted) ratings and other supplemental drive-based data can be found here.

Rk Team FBS
Rec
FEI LW GE GE
Rk
SOS
Pvs
Rk SOS
Fut
Rk FBS
MW
FBS
RMW
OFEI Rk DFEI Rk STE Rk FPA Rk
1 Kansas State 7-0 .323 1 .354 3 .291 29 .551 35 9.9 3.6 .520 6 -.569 10 2.727 10 .577 3
2 Notre Dame 8-0 .306 6 .176 13 .214 17 .625 47 10.6 3.7 .672 3 -.694 4 -.815 84 .483 80
3 Alabama 8-0 .278 3 .404 2 .674 101 .479 22 9.9 2.4 .313 19 -.682 5 3.354 4 .577 4
4 Oregon 7-0 .274 4 .421 1 .645 97 .278 10 9.4 2.9 .259 25 -.704 3 2.425 14 .545 15
5 Oklahoma 4-2 .269 2 .254 5 .150 8 .485 23 8.7 4.2 .536 5 -.535 13 1.592 25 .516 47
6 Florida 7-1 .249 5 .165 15 .294 30 .587 40 9.1 2.5 .043 53 -.717 2 4.432 1 .556 10
7 Oregon State 6-1 .246 7 .090 37 .312 34 .389 14 8.6 3.0 .419 13 -.571 9 -.010 66 .522 38
8 Florida State 6-1 .212 8 .280 4 .627 94 .592 42 8.2 2.1 .088 46 -.647 6 1.959 19 .563 8
9 Texas A&M 5-2 .207 12 .187 10 .460 61 .401 16 7.6 2.0 .478 11 -.258 34 .025 65 .513 49
10 Ohio State 9-0 .203 19 .147 19 .392 45 .686 54 9.9 2.4 .483 9 -.461 18 -1.431 93 .500 61
11 LSU 6-1 .200 11 .164 16 .265 23 .557 36 8.3 3.1 .072 47 -.611 8 1.105 31 .556 9
12 Stanford 6-2 .184 9 .097 35 .192 14 .260 7 8.0 2.2 .035 54 -.626 7 1.646 24 .565 7
Rk Team FBS
Rec
FEI LW GE GE
Rk
SOS
Pvs
Rk SOS
Fut
Rk FBS
MW
FBS
RMW
OFEI Rk DFEI Rk STE Rk FPA Rk
13 USC 6-2 .181 13 .187 9 .314 36 .252 6 8.1 2.1 .184 34 -.375 23 1.480 26 .532 28
14 Arizona 4-3 .179 16 .022 56 .136 7 .685 53 7.1 3.1 .746 2 -.029 60 .082 61 .544 16
15 Cincinnati 3-2 .157 15 .125 24 .575 87 .800 75 7.7 4.0 .250 26 -.568 11 .877 43 .537 23
16 Oklahoma State 4-2 .156 18 .112 28 .478 69 .110 1 6.8 2.5 .615 4 -.083 54 .244 57 .460 102
17 Michigan State 5-4 .154 29 .051 51 .176 11 .722 60 7.8 2.0 -.043 67 -.740 1 -.351 76 .488 74
18 Boise State 7-1 .153 27 .209 7 .560 85 .869 85 10.2 3.5 -.013 62 -.536 12 1.129 29 .568 6
19 South Carolina 7-2 .145 25 .162 17 .263 22 .758 68 7.9 1.4 -.011 61 -.508 15 -.847 86 .503 58
20 BYU 4-4 .144 32 .092 36 .126 6 .845 84 7.4 2.6 .088 45 -.502 16 -1.184 90 .498 65
21 Nebraska 5-2 .143 38 .054 50 .307 33 .540 32 7.0 2.5 .507 7 -.305 29 -2.098 106 .434 121
22 Louisville 7-0 .140 28 .102 32 .665 100 .634 49 8.5 2.9 .481 10 -.355 24 -1.597 98 .454 106
23 Wisconsin 5-3 .139 22 .112 27 .281 25 .534 31 6.9 1.5 .197 32 -.422 21 .153 59 .536 24
24 Iowa State 4-3 .136 21 .012 59 .196 15 .487 24 6.4 2.5 -.180 88 -.471 17 .554 48 .515 48
25 Texas Tech 5-2 .134 10 .102 33 .113 5 .611 45 6.8 2.7 .392 15 -.084 53 -.488 78 .475 87

Posted by: Brian Fremeau on 31 Oct 2012

11 comments, Last at 05 Nov 2012, 1:12pm by Richard Norwood

Comments

1
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 11:55am

I see Minnesota is up to 61. I know the preseason projection was 88, but I can't seem to get to the week by week rankings for the entire division; did they not fall into the 90s after a week one ot victory against a hideous UNLV team?

With remaining games against Michigan State, Nebraska, and Michigan, if they play well, I could see them rising into the forties, or even higher. What's the biggest upward move any team has made in the FEI during the season? The biggest downward drop?

2
by Mr. X (not verified) :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 12:59pm

Oregon and Kansas State should be docked points for scheduling FCS games. In proportion, there should be further docking of points for scheduling non-AQ teams (hello, Florida Atlantic and Western Kentucky). Oregon, 'Bama, and K-State have all degrees from the Barry Alvarez School of Creating Easy Schedules. (Note: 'Bama should get credit for scheduling Michigan.)

3
by Sancho (not verified) :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 1:18pm

Mr. X,

FEI does not count games against FCS teams. And it has opponent adjustments.

4
by tvg (not verified) :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 1:58pm

What evidence do you have that they are trying to create easy schedules? None? OK. The FCS games were last minute schedule changed due to Oregon wanting to play a tougher team in '11 (LSU).

5
by DavesNotHere (not verified) :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 3:08pm

Where is Georgia?

9
by Arch9876 (not verified) :: Sat, 11/03/2012 - 1:48pm

Georgia is not in the top 25? They would stomp half of these teams. Clearly, there is a chink in the system.

6
by young curmudgeon :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 6:12pm

Wow, college football is essentially moribund in the East. I know that's part of a long-term trend, but it's vividly illustrated this year. It certainly wasn't always that way--for example, if you take an "all-time" roster from, say, Pitt, it would match up well with a similar roster from any other traditionally strong program. Anyone whose knowledge of NCAA football is based only on the last decade would scoff at that assertion, and rightly so, but Eastern football used to be strong and is now an afterthought. It's a shame.

10
by Will :: Sat, 11/03/2012 - 6:38pm

Don't forget that some of those early powers became the Ivy League and stopped giving out athletic scholarships.

Will

7
by Alexander :: Thu, 11/01/2012 - 2:25am

I always feel like everyone consistently overrates the Big 12. Every system, ever.

IDK why I feel this way.

8
by erniecohen :: Thu, 11/01/2012 - 9:48pm

It occurred to me that the main reason ND is as high as it is in the BCS is that the computer polls don't know that they beat Stanford in OT. It then occurred to me, why don't they know? Why shouldn't the computers be able to take into account whether the game went into OT?

11
by Richard Norwood (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2012 - 1:12pm

Some of us have noticed a Notre Dame bias in this report. Specifically they seem to place a much higher value on the weak ND schedule than others. 6 of their games are against teams from the the worst BCS Conferences (ACC, Big10) and even some of these games are close. May I ask if the Brian Fremeau that writes the report is the same person the is currently Director of Student Activities at Notre Dame. If so, should thiis conflict of interest be noted in his reports