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03 Oct 2013

FEI Week 5: Huskies Rising

by Brian Fremeau

College football has been dominated by the SEC over the last seven seasons, and most recently, the SEC West has claimed the unofficial title of "best division" in the country. Since 2007, five of the six BCS national championships were claimed by SEC West programs. Alabama and LSU are perennially in the national championship conversation, and Texas A&M has proven it can go toe to toe with those powerhouse programs as well.

So far in 2013, however, the Pac 12 North is making a strong play for that unofficial 'best division" crown. We projected Oregon and Stanford to be among the top three teams this year and early results haven’t changed that perspective. The big surprise is the Washington Huskies, surging to No. 4 overall in our rankings after a 31-13 victory over Arizona on Saturday.

The Huskies have wins over Boise State, Illinois, and Arizona so far this season -– not exactly a murderer’s row, but all solid wins over teams we originally thought might give the Huskies trouble. In our preseason FEI projections, Washington was given only a 17.6 percent chance of winning those three games. All three were double-digit victories led by a Huskies offense that has been one of the most efficient in the country through the first five weeks.

The Huskies rank second nationally behind only Baylor in first-down rate, earning at least one first down on 93.8 percent of their offensive non-garbage possessions. Washington has been grinding out methodical drives on 28.1 percent of its possessions, the fourth-highest rate nationally.

Washington’s strong start has made them a legitimate contender in the Pac-12 North, and their opportunity to win the division comes in the next two weeks. A trip to Stanford on Saturday night and a visit from Oregon the following weekend are the toughest back-to-back games of any team in the country this season. FEI gives the Huskies a 12 percent chance of winning both and a 42 percent chance of losing both.
If they play well against Stanford and Oregon, win or lose, I expect Washington will remain highly ranked in the FEI ratings for the remainder of the season. Opponent adjustments will keep Washington ranked highly due to the No. 6 overall strength of schedule (No. 47 to date, No. 5 remaining).

That’s a big leap from the our early projections, and an unprecedented one at that. The Huskies started the year at No. 43 in our FEI projections. Since 2004, no team projected outside the FEI top 40 finished the year among the top 5. In fact, only two teams in that span started the year outside the FEI projected top 30 and finished among the FEI top 5. Those two teams happen to also be Pac 12 North programs –- 2010 Stanford (projected No. 31, finished No. 2) and 2007 Oregon (projected No. 39, finished No. 4).

We ran 1000 simulations of the remainder of the Pac-12 conference season based on the most recent FEI ratings. Stanford was the Pac-12 North division champion in 431 of those simulations and Oregon was the conference champ in 411 of those simulations. Washington picked up the rest winning 158 of the simulations. The overall win likelihoods for all three teams projected after each week of the season to date are provided in the tables below.

No. 2 Oregon Season Win Likelihood By Week
Week 12-0 11-1 10-2 9-3 8-4 7-5 6-6 5-7 4-8 3-9 2-10 1-11 0-12
Preseason 27 45 22 5 1 - - - - - - - -
Week 1 19 41 29 9 2 - - - - - - - -
Week 2 18 40 30 10 2 - - - - - - - -
Week 3 17 38 31 12 2 - - - - - - - -
Week 4 20 39 29 10 2 - - - - - - - -
Week 5 19 40 30 10 1 - - - - - - - -
No. 3 Stanford Season Win Likelihood By Week
Week 12-0 11-1 10-2 9-3 8-4 7-5 6-6 5-7 4-8 3-9 2-10 1-11 0-12
Preseason 10 29 33 20 7 1 - - - - - - -
Week 1 10 28 32 20 7 2 - - - - - - -
Week 2 13 32 31 16 5 1 - - - - - - -
Week 3 8 24 32 23 10 3 - - - - - - -
Week 4 6 22 32 24 11 3 1 - - - - - -
Week 5 16 37 31 13 3 - - - - - - - -
No. 4 Washington Season Win Likelihood By Week
Week 12-0 11-1 10-2 9-3 8-4 7-5 6-6 5-7 4-8 3-9 2-10 1-11 0-12
Preseason - - 1 5 16 29 28 15 4 1 - - -
Week 1 - 2 10 26 34 22 6 1 - - - - -
Week 2 - 3 12 26 31 21 8 1 - - - - -
Week 3 - 4 14 29 31 17 5 - - - - - -
Week 4 - 3 12 26 31 20 6 1 - - - - -
Week 5 4 19 36 29 11 2 - - - - - - -

FEI Week 5 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.

These FEI ratings are a function of results of games played through September 28th. 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
1 Alabama 4-0 .326 2 .349 4 .473 22 .538 71 10.2 6.6
2 Oregon 3-0 .318 1 .425 2 .942 118 .112 10 9.6 6.6
3 Stanford 4-0 .282 3 .248 12 .800 84 .167 18 10.3 6.5
4 Washington 3-0 .245 17 .011 62 .621 47 .084 5 8.1 5.7
5 Louisville 3-0 .244 7 .490 1 .956 123 .662 86 10.4 7.4
6 Oklahoma 4-0 .242 4 .266 8 .862 99 .240 30 10.1 6.3
7 Georgia 3-1 .240 8 .097 36 .408 13 .360 48 8.6 5.6
8 Clemson 3-0 .205 12 .245 13 .689 59 .458 64 8.0 5.6
9 Miami 3-0 .204 10 .263 9 .780 77 .537 70 9.4 6.8
10 Ohio State 4-0 .197 11 .257 10 .867 101 .407 56 9.1 5.4
11 Baylor 2-0 .193 21 .340 6 .970 125 .214 23 8.4 6.4
12 LSU 4-1 .189 5 .136 25 .457 19 .117 11 7.2 3.4
Rk Team FBS
Rec
FEI LW GE GE
Rk
SOS
Pvs
Rk SOS
Fut
Rk FBS
MW
FBS
RMW
13 Florida 3-1 .188 20 .107 34 .585 40 .147 15 7.1 4.1
14 Texas Tech 3-0 .185 23 .207 16 .887 106 .249 31 8.1 5.5
15 Missouri 3-0 .177 6 .080 40 .864 100 .190 21 7.6 5.0
16 Texas A&M 3-1 .172 25 .111 31 .377 7 .282 34 7.5 4.7
17 UCLA 3-0 .172 15 .308 7 .804 86 .039 1 7.6 5.0
18 South Carolina 3-1 .169 32 .100 35 .379 8 .293 37 7.0 4.5
19 Iowa 3-1 .168 33 .171 19 .652 53 .392 52 8.1 5.0
20 Arizona 2-1 .168 9 .220 15 .523 30 .225 24 7.8 5.6
21 Oklahoma State 2-1 .162 16 .141 24 .838 94 .233 28 7.4 5.0
22 Florida State 3-0 .155 13 .372 3 .956 124 .287 35 8.4 5.6
23 Northern Illinois 3-0 .154 34 .223 14 .668 56 .854 112 9.8 7.5
24 Arizona State 2-1 .153 19 .124 29 .381 9 .273 32 6.8 5.1
25 Virginia Tech 3-1 .151 37 .094 37 .292 5 .560 73 8.1 5.8

Posted by: Brian Fremeau on 03 Oct 2013

6 comments, Last at 06 Oct 2013, 1:48am by Subrata Sircar

Comments

1
by jacobk (not verified) :: Thu, 10/03/2013 - 3:01pm

As a UW alum, I want to believe this, but I can't help but be a little skeptical. It seems like an echo of Arizona's ranking last week. College football has a lot bigger talent spread than the NFL, and it seems to me that it's hard to project how a team will do against upper tier competition based on how it does against lower tier competition.

That is, Arizona may have beaten up creampuffs as efficiently as a top tier team would, but that didn't mean they were top tier. Similarly, UW has been pretty solid against middling competition... but I have a hard time believing they can hang with Stanford and Oregon.

I hope you guys are right about this one.

2
by willybhu :: Thu, 10/03/2013 - 3:17pm

Two top ten football teams in Seattle? Be still, my heart...

3
by brandond03 :: Thu, 10/03/2013 - 5:02pm

Is Pac-12 North strength the reason UCLA now has the hardest remaining schedule per FEI?
Go Gators and Go Navy

4
by fajizkanil (not verified) :: Thu, 10/03/2013 - 8:23pm

@brandond03 The top 7 Future SOS teams have 6 Pac-12 teams (and Arkansas). UCLA just has the misfortune of playing all 5 of the ranked Pac-12 teams that aren't themselves.

5
by cfn_ms :: Fri, 10/04/2013 - 12:10pm

that 100% of all simulations had Stanford, Oregon or Washington winning the division. Oregon St is 2-0 in league play and gets two of them at home (and it's not like they've never suffered a horrific early season loss and then gotten hot late), and while Wazzu lost convincingly to Stanford, they do have a league road win and it's at least conceivable they could go on a run.

I'd almost certainly take 250:1 on "the big three won't win the division," so seeing zero "wacky" results, especially at such an early point in the season (when we really just don't know how good or bad a lot of these teams really are), seems a bit surprising.

6
by Subrata Sircar :: Sun, 10/06/2013 - 1:48am

Why is Iowa there? They are not really doing anything well to my untutored eye.