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17 Sep 2013

FEI Week 3: Comebacks

by Brian Fremeau

Alabama passed its first big test of the 2013 season with a 49-42 victory over Texas A&M in College Station on Saturday. There aren’t many more major tests ahead. Alabama’s regular season undefeated win likelihood jumped up to 52.4 percent according to FEI. The Crimson Tide have individual game win likelihoods in excess of 90 percent in eight of their remaining 10 games, and the other two (Mississippi and LSU) are home games. Alabama appears to be well on its way to an SEC West championship and a national championship game appearance.

There are certainly some defensive concerns that need to be corrected. The Crimson Tide had their worst defensive game splits of the Nick Saban era on Saturday, surrendering 22.5 points in net scoring differential on that side of the ball. (It would have been worse if the Crimson Tide defense hadn’t chipped in a defensive score of their own on a third quarter interception return.) Last year’s negative-17.7 point defensive game split against Johnny Football and Texas A&M was the third-worst of the Nick Saban era. We will be posting opponent-adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency data beginning with the Week 7 FEI ratings, and I do expect that Alabama’s performance against the Aggies will look better through that opponent-adjusted lens.

Alabama’s offense played well, led by an explosive passing attack (16.7 yards per completion) and a ground game that pounded out 6.3 yards per rush. The Crimson Tide scored touchdowns on four straight drives after spotting A&M a 14-0 lead, a deficit that was flipped into a 28-14 lead for Alabama with ruthless efficiency. By halftime, it was easy to forget that Alabama had struggled out of the gate and spotted a double-digit lead.

Saturday was only the second two-touchdown deficit erased by Alabama since 2007. The only other time Alabama won a game in which it faced a 14-point deficit or more at some point was their 2009 victory over Auburn. Alabama spotted Auburn a two touchdown lead early in that game, tied it back up at halftime, then fell behind again in the second half before edging out the Tigers 26-21 with a score on the Crimson Tide’s final drive in regulation. It was the second-closest call in Nick Saban’s first championship season in Tuscaloosa.

On the flip side of the double-digit comeback is Texas A&M, of course. Since 2007, the Aggies have given up a 14-point lead and lost the game seven times, more than any other team in college football. Texas A&M has given up a 10-point lead and gone on to the lose the game 14 times since the start of the 2007 season, four more occasions than any other FBS team. The Aggies only have four double-digit comeback wins of their own in the same span.

Out of 4437 FBS vs. FBS games played since the start of the 2007 season, there have been 293 double-digit deficit comeback victories –- 6.6 percent of wins have featured a double-digit comeback. The tables below identify the teams that have had the most net success and the most net failures in double-digit comebacks since 2007.

Net Success In Double-Digit Comebacks Since 2007
Team Games FBS
Wins
FBS
Loss
10+ Point
Comebacks
Opp 10+ Point
Comebacks
Net
Comebacks
Houston 74 45 29 11 2 +9
Texas 81 58 23 8 0 +8
LSU 79 62 17 10 2 +8
Oregon 78 64 14 7 0 +7
Utah 76 53 23 8 1 +7
Florida State 75 49 26 9 3 +6
Middle Tennessee 73 36 37 7 2 +5
Navy 73 44 27 8 3 +5
Virginia Tech 79 57 22 9 4 +5
Michigan State 78 50 28 9 4 +5
Texas Tech 72 45 27 9 4 +5

Net Failures In Double-Digit Comebacks Since 2007
Team Games FBS
Wins
FBS
Loss
10+ Point
Comebacks
Opp 10+ Point
Comebacks
Net
Comebacks
Texas A&M 75 41 34 4 14 -10
North Texas 73 17 56 3 10 -7
SMU 74 28 46 3 9 -6
UTEP 72 25 47 3 9 -6
Army 69 19 50 2 8 -6
Indiana 69 19 50 2 8 -6
Southern Miss. 77 37 40 3 8 -5
Western Kentucky 59 16 43 3 8 -5
Memphis 71 18 53 3 8 -5
Akron 70 12 58 3 8 -5
Purdue 72 29 43 2 7 -5
Notre Dame 79 46 33 2 7 -5
Kent State 70 27 43 2 7 -5

A few other interesting notes about double-digit comebacks:

  • There were eight double-digit comebacks this past weekend. Five of the teams listed in the Failures tables above were involved in one of those eight games: Texas A&M (loss), Purdue (loss), Western Kentucky (loss), Notre Dame (win), and North Texas (win).
  • Of the 119 teams that have been playing FBS football since the start of the 2007 season, Boise State is the only one that has not recorded a double-digit comeback victory in that span. The Broncos have given up two double-digit comeback victories. Of course, the Broncos also have the best record among FBS teams in that span (69-9) and they haven't fallen behind by two scores very often.
  • Texas A&M has been involved in the most double-digit comeback victory games since 2007 (18). Of the seven other teams that have been involved in at least 15 double-digit comeback games since 2007, only two have won more of those than their opponents: Rutgers (9 wins, 7 losses) and Fresno State (9 wins, 6 losses).
  • Among teams that have been playing FBS games since 2007, the following teams have been involved in the fewest number of double-digit comebacks: Boise State (0 wins, 2 losses), Miami-OH (2 wins, 1 loss), Tennessee (1 win, 2 losses), USC (1 win, 3 losses), Florida (1 win, 3 losses), New Mexico State (1 win, 3 losses), and Mississippi State (1 win, 3 losses).

FEI Week 3 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: Strength of schedule, based on the likelihood of an elite team going undefeated against the given team's entire 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.

These FEI ratings are a function of results of games played through September 14th. 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 Rk
FBS
MW
FBS
RMW
1 Alabama 2-0 .304 1 .393 4 .283 62 10.0 8.4
2 Oregon 2-0 .299 2 .441 2 .139 25 9.5 7.6
3 Stanford 2-0 .265 3 .234 9 .114 20 9.8 7.9
4 LSU 3-0 .241 4 .206 11 .068 8 8.4 5.7
5 Oklahoma 3-0 .234 6 .183 19 .158 31 9.7 6.8
6 Louisville 2-0 .215 10 .424 3 .527 102 9.9 7.9
7 Florida State 2-0 .209 5 .473 1 .303 66 9.3 7.4
8 Georgia 1-1 .206 7 .139 24 .148 28 8.0 6.8
9 Ohio State 3-0 .200 13 .262 7 .315 70 8.9 6.0
10 Clemson 1-0 .198 12 .193 16 .326 72 7.8 7.2
11 Mississippi 2-0 .188 25 .027 50 .115 21 7.9 6.4
12 Oklahoma State 2-0 .188 11 .194 15 .241 51 8.2 6.3
Rk Team FBS
Rec
FEI LW GE GE
Rk
SOS Rk
FBS
MW
FBS
RMW
13 Central Florida 3-0 .187 29 .383 5 .365 80 10.1 7.6
14 Washington 2-0 .178 20 -.033 72 .057 7 6.9 5.4
15 Arizona 2-0 .178 24 .186 18 .145 27 8.0 6.1
16 Miami 2-0 .177 21 .165 20 .336 74 8.7 7.1
17 Arizona State 1-0 .176 27 .049 46 .103 16 7.0 6.3
18 Florida 1-1 .174 14 .145 22 .097 12 7.1 5.7
19 Texas A&M 1-1 .173 8 .122 26 .107 18 7.6 6.4
20 Michigan 3-0 .172 15 .202 12 .193 39 8.6 6.1
21 Notre Dame 2-1 .167 16 .025 52 .114 19 8.0 5.8
22 Michigan State 2-0 .165 34 .063 41 .258 56 8.1 6.1
23 Missouri 1-0 .161 31 .057 43 .161 32 7.3 6.4
24 TCU 0-2 .161 9 .108 29 .090 10 6.8 6.1
25 Oregon State 2-0 .160 22 .212 10 .094 11 7.2 5.7

Posted by: Brian Fremeau on 17 Sep 2013

14 comments, Last at 20 Sep 2013, 11:09am by UB

Comments

1
by Dan in Philly (not verified) :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 12:45pm

Alabama's weapons include a ruthless effeciency, fear, and an almost fanatical devotion to Nick Saban...

12
by cfn_ms :: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 7:23pm

the surprise?

2
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 12:47pm

Texas A&M 75 41 34 4 14 -10
North Texas 73 17 56 3 10 -7
SMU 74 28 46 3 9 -6
UTEP 72 25 47 3 9 -6

Well that explains why Houston, Texas and Texas Tech show up in the 'most comebacks' list.

3
by techvet (not verified) :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 1:25pm

Shouldn't Indiana's # of lead blown be eight (8) instead of (3)?

4
by Brian Fremeau :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 2:04pm

Yep, fixed. Thanks.

5
by UB (not verified) :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 2:55pm

Hi Brian,

I'll admit, I'm confused. Looking at the overall FEI rankings, UCLA has the 6th best game efficiency, and the 3rd best SOS. Yet they sit 27th in the total FEI rankings. If I remember correctly, rankings tend to include pre-season projections for the first few weeks. However, shouldn't they be down-weighted significantly when the on-field performance so drastically differs?

6
by RickD :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 3:42pm

No ?

If you're going to down-weight a factor whenever it makes a difference, you might as well just not use it at all.

8
by Brian Fremeau :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 8:31pm

Two factors here. First, the preseason data is still a factor, and UCLA was projected at No.48 in FEI. Second, UCLA has the No.3 overall SOS when considering their whole schedule. They have the No.75 SOS to date. They have the No.1 SOS remaining. If UCLA impresses against that schedule, trust me, FEI will respond accordingly.

14
by UB (not verified) :: Fri, 09/20/2013 - 11:09am

Hi Brian,

Thanks for the response. That clarifies things a lot. Do you think it would be useful to include a column showing a team's SOS to date? I think that would give the rankings some better context than showing the team's projected SOS for the season, something the rankings won't actually consider until the season is over.

Also, UCLA's SOS is 75? That seems a bit low given that one of their two games was a roadie at a legit BCS school, and I find it hard to believe there are too many other teams that can say the same about 50% of their games right now. Does SOS penalize for fewer games played?

7
by MatMan :: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 3:58pm

My brother-in-law graduated Notre Dame. I graduated from North Texas. I'm pretty sure this is the first time in the history of sports journalism that both schools' football programs have been mentioned in the same sentence.

9
by bucko (not verified) :: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 6:33am

Pretty laughable that ASU is in your rankings over Wisconsin.

Adherence to the system over common sense?

10
by Brian Fremeau :: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 8:17am

I think that's the first time anyone has taken issue with FEI rankings that don't conflict with head-to-head results on the field. Usually it is the opposite.

11
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 2:49pm

I think his point is that Wisconsin played ASU to a draw, on the road, before getting Oklahoma'd.

FEI doesn't account for the incompetence/corruption of Pac-12 officiating.

13
by bucko (not verified) :: Fri, 09/20/2013 - 5:09am

Apparently you didn't catch all the discussion about how the game ended. Pac-12 officials decided to interfere with Wisconsin's efforts to win the game.