Bill Connelly takes a look at the early-season S&P+ outliers and whether his eyeballs agree or disagree with the stats. Spoiler: Alabama is underrated. Alabama! Underrated!
07 Nov 2013
by Brian Fremeau
The Florida State Seminoles whipped Miami by a final score of 41-14 on Saturday night, their sixth FBS victory of the season by at least 27 points. Three of those games rank among the seven best performances of the season according to opponent-adjusted game efficiency. As a result, FSU vaulted to the top of this week’s FEI ratings.
We introduced Game Factors last week, the guts of each team’s current FEI rating. Game Factors are the opponent-adjusted offense, defense, and overall team efficiency data for each team in each game, plus the relevance of each data point. In Florida State’s case, their three top wins over Pittsburgh, Clemson, and Miami are worth 57.1 percent of the Seminoles' overall FEI rating.
These three games are ranked in the 99th percentile of all overall opponent-adjusted team performances played in FBS games so far this year, and it doesn’t have anything to do with over-inflating the opponents themselves. Miami ranks No. 21 in this week’s FEI ratings. Clemson ranks No. 30. Pittsburgh ranks No. 51. If the strength of those opponents according to FEI improves over the final weeks of the season, Florida State’s profile will be impacted as well.
What makes the dominant wins over these three opponents so special? It is all about efficiency.
Florida State took a 41-13 lead against Pittsburgh only 15 non-garbage possessions into their game back on September 2. The Seminoles punted on their first drive, then scored on each of their other seven non-garbage drives. In their eight non-garbage possessions, Florida State earned 448 out of a possible 508 total yards in terms of starting field position, 88.2 percent of available yards. Pittsburgh had only earned 43.6 percent of available yards at the same point in the game.
It was a similarly dominant and efficient performance in the blowout victory over Clemson on October 19. Florida State took a 41-7 lead against the Tigers on only 19 non-garbage possessions. The Seminoles defense scored on a fumble return, and on Florida State’s nine other non-garbage possessions, the offense chipped in six scores. Florida State earned 67.5 percent of available yards and allowed only 34.2 percent of available yards in non-garbage time.
Both of those games rank among the top 50 in raw game efficiency. They are the only two top-50 GE games played this season that came against opponents ranked among the top 60 in FEI. The other 48 games came against opponents with an average ranking of 104th in FEI.
Of the top-100 GE games played so far this season, Florida State’s wins over Clemson and Pittsburgh are among only five that came against top-60 FEI opponents (the others were Washington over FEI No. 43 Boise State, Michigan over FEI No. 55 Minnesota, and Indiana over FEI No. 60 Bowling Green).
Only ten of the top-150 GE games played so far this season came against opponents ranked in the top 60 of the FEI ratings. That list includes Florida State’s victory this weekend over Miami. Of those ten victories, the Seminoles have three of them. Alabama, Stanford, Washington, Texas A&M, Missouri, Michigan, and Indiana have one each.
FEI ranks Florida State as the nation’s best team because no other team to date has had single game opponent-adjusted performances nearly as impressive as the collection of wins over Clemson, Miami and Pittsburgh. Alabama, LSU, Oregon, Stanford, Baylor and others all have big opportunities to match those victories this weekend and in games down the stretch.
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.
These FEI ratings are a function of results of games played through November 2nd. The ratings for all FBS teams can be found here. Program FEI (five-year weighted) ratings and other supplemental drive-based data can be found here.
2 comments, Last at 11 Nov 2013, 3:12pm by Brian Fremeau