Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

27 Nov 2013

FEI Week 13: What Makes Alabama Special

by Brian Fremeau

This weekend’s Iron Bowl is the biggest game of the weekend, and it has the potential to be the most important game of the season. The Crimson Tide and Tigers are both ranked in the top 4 of the BCS standings and the winner will claim the SEC West division crown, a title that has punched a ticket to the BCS championship game in each of the last four seasons.

Auburn’s return to the national spotlight after a disastrous 2012 has been one of the most remarkable stories of this season. They’ve seized on a bit of good fortune along the way, but they are certainly capable of taking down Alabama. The Tigers have top-20 rankings in Offensive FEI, Defensive FEI, and Special Teams Efficiency, a profile only three other teams can claim -– Ohio State, Stanford, and Alabama.

The Crimson Tide are in position to claim a third-straight BCS championship game berth and a potential fourth national title in five years. Their defense hasn’t been quite as dominant as recent Alabama title teams, and the offense hasn’t been quite as efficient, though both have been strong. Alabama’s special teams have been off the charts in terms of production and efficiency, and that unit has separated the Crimson Tide from the pack this year.

Alabama currently ranks in the top 10 in all five of our special teams efficiency splits categories -– punting, kickoffs, punt returns, kickoff returns, and field goal efficiency. Since 2007, no team has ranked in the top 10 at the end of the year in more than three of those five categories. The 2008 Ohio State Buckyes, 2008 LSU Tigers, 2011 Florida State Seminoles, and 2011 Boise State Broncos are the only four teams in the last six years to rank in the top 10 in three of our special teams efficiency categories.

In fact, since the start of the 2007 season, only two teams have ranked in the top 40 of all five special teams efficiency categories -– the 2009 LSU Tigers and the 2007 Virginia Tech Hokies. Alabama’s special teams production so far in 2013 is more than three standard deviations better than an average team. The 2009 LSU and 2007 Virginia Tech teams that featured strong special teams paired those with mediocre offenses. Alabama has the total package in 2013.

FEI Week 13 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 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 composite efficiency of the given team's special teams units - field goals, punt returns, kickoff returns, punts, and kickoffs.
  • 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 November 23rd. 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.

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 Alabama 10-0 .311 1 .369 2 .319 64 .619 13 9.8 .7 .463 13 -.659 5 5.942 1 .588 1
2 Florida State 10-0 .295 3 .516 1 .498 99 .853 34 10.3 .9 .524 10 -.603 8 .222 60 .580 3
3 Stanford 9-2 .291 2 .191 16 .098 14 .809 24 9.9 .8 .381 19 -.757 2 3.577 2 .572 5
4 Arizona State 8-2 .280 5 .128 26 .057 7 .826 29 8.4 .8 .655 1 -.587 9 -.172 74 .531 25
5 Missouri 9-1 .251 7 .216 11 .282 57 .862 38 9.4 .8 .333 25 -.546 11 -.426 84 .539 17
6 Oklahoma State 9-1 .249 13 .194 14 .415 83 .880 42 9.6 .8 .333 27 -.682 4 .403 53 .554 10
7 Oregon 8-2 .245 4 .307 5 .114 19 .966 65 8.8 .9 .583 7 -.372 21 2.645 11 .560 7
8 Ohio State 10-0 .239 9 .327 4 .573 107 .807 23 9.9 .7 .527 8 -.395 20 2.949 6 .557 9
9 Baylor 8-1 .235 6 .340 3 .315 62 .861 37 9.4 1.7 .521 11 -.370 22 .317 56 .538 20
10 Wisconsin 8-2 .231 8 .221 10 .138 21 .985 91 8.8 1.0 .373 21 -.641 6 -.333 82 .516 46
11 South Carolina 8-2 .217 11 .104 35 .183 37 .846 32 8.5 .7 .619 4 -.366 23 -2.752 118 .468 101
12 USC 9-3 .211 10 .118 30 .091 13 .814 26 9.7 .7 .321 29 -.694 3 1.279 33 .540 15
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 LSU 7-3 .208 19 .148 22 .088 12 .985 89 8.1 1.0 .653 2 -.084 57 1.765 20 .518 42
14 Auburn 9-1 .205 12 .136 24 .283 58 .502 3 8.4 .3 .390 17 -.437 15 2.994 4 .515 48
15 Michigan State 9-1 .201 17 .203 12 .387 79 .978 73 9.3 .9 .131 47 -.638 7 1.478 28 .580 2
16 Georgia 6-4 .195 16 .057 48 .134 20 .789 21 7.3 .6 .644 3 -.061 61 .056 64 .474 95
17 Washington 6-4 .193 27 .131 25 .054 6 .976 71 7.3 .9 .525 9 -.316 25 .542 49 .507 57
18 Notre Dame 8-3 .185 24 .057 49 .152 25 .398 1 8.0 .2 .510 12 -.289 27 .251 57 .488 79
19 UCLA 8-3 .182 20 .119 29 .045 5 .609 11 7.3 .3 .333 26 -.412 18 2.287 12 .522 34
20 BYU 6-4 .181 14 .068 42 .174 33 .985 94 7.8 1.0 .129 48 -.549 10 -.324 79 .521 35
21 Central Florida 9-1 .175 18 .232 8 .426 84 .965 64 10.1 1.8 .449 14 -.149 47 1.370 30 .534 23
22 Virginia Tech 6-4 .174 21 .030 55 .143 22 .985 92 7.7 .9 -.009 63 -.862 1 -1.044 95 .493 73
23 Arizona 6-4 .174 36 .110 32 .182 36 .440 2 7.2 .2 .400 15 -.407 19 -.756 90 .528 30
24 Clemson 8-1 .160 25 .186 17 .363 76 .598 10 7.2 .3 .322 28 -.420 16 .045 65 .521 36
25 Louisville 9-1 .151 23 .296 6 .667 115 .878 40 9.4 .6 .388 18 -.241 30 1.325 32 .540 16

Posted by: Brian Fremeau on 27 Nov 2013

5 comments, Last at 02 Dec 2013, 9:54am by Default

Comments

1
by gatortom (not verified) :: Wed, 11/27/2013 - 2:52pm

Does FEI chart FBS vs FCS games? Wondering what the effect of losing to an FCS team would have on Florida if that game isn't factored in to this week's numbers.

2
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 11/28/2013 - 4:24pm

It doesn't. Not counting them also artificially boosts the Pac-12 and their FCS struggles.

3
by lolkicker (not verified) :: Sat, 11/30/2013 - 9:04pm

The FO article jinx

4
by Brian Fremeau :: Sun, 12/01/2013 - 1:00am

Auburn fans, you're welcome.

5
by Default (not verified) :: Mon, 12/02/2013 - 9:54am

This may be the most ironic thing I've ever belatedly come across. Auburn may have had the best special teams game I've ever seen, and that was before the finish.

Three punts inside the 2. Blocked FG. Blocked punt. Missed short FG. Oh, and that last play.