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04 Nov 2014

FEI Week 10: Noles Rally Again

by Brian Fremeau

With five minutes left in the second quarter against Louisville last Thursday, Florida State was in trouble. The Seminoles had already allowed three Cardinals drives deep into Florida State territory; one was turned away at the goal line on the first possession of the game, but two others resulted in Michael Dyer touchdown runs and a 14-0 deficit. The Cardinals defense hadn't allowed FSU more than a few yards past midfield on any of their drives, and had just intercepted quarterback Jameis Winston for the second time. Louisville's offense didn't need a third-down conversion on the ensuing series and scored again to take a commanding 21-0 lead.

Thursday night's game at Louisville was the 50th FBS vs. FBS game played so far this year in which one of the teams jumped out to a 21-0 lead. Of the previous 49 games played, only one resulted in a comeback victory for the team down three scores. Back on September 27, Utah grabbed a 21-0 lead against Washington State in the first quarter, then allowed the Cougars to claw back to win 28-27. In the other 48 games, the team with a 21-0 lead went on to win by an average final margin of 32 points. Only two of those 48 games ended with a victory margin of a single score (Oregon State over Hawaii on September 6 and East Carolina over Virginia Tech on September 13).

The Seminoles would not suffer the same fate. Winston led a six-play, 78-yard touchdown drive to immediately cut the deficit to 21-7 at the half and Florida State added five other explosive drives for touchdowns in the second half. Louisville had only one drive of the second half that advanced further than 33 yards, and the Cardinals were held to only 10 more points in the game. The defending national champions remained undefeated with a 42-31 final score at Louisville.

Florida State has been playing with fire on several occasions this year, but they have recovered spectacularly just as often. The Seminoles have trailed by at least seven points and come back to win four times this year; only Oregon has as many seven-point comeback wins to date. The Seminoles have trailed by at least 14 points and come back to win twice this year; only North Carolina and California have as many 14-point comeback wins. Florida State is the only team that can claim two comeback victories of at least 17 points this year.

  • 8/30 LSU trailed Wisconsin 24-7; won 28-24
  • 9/6 New Mexico State trailed Georgia State 17-0; won 34-31
  • 9/20 Arizona trailed California 28-6; won 49-45
  • 9/27 Florida State trailed North Carolina State 24-7; won 56-41
  • 9/27 Washington State trailed Utah 21-0; won 28-27
  • 10/4 Miami (OH) trailed Massachusetts 41-21; won 42-41
  • 10/11 Baylor trailed TCU 58-37; won 61-58
  • 10/11 Western Michigan trailed Ball State 28-7; won 42-38
  • 10/18 Florida Atlantic trailed Western Kentucky 31-14; won 45-38
  • 10/18 South Florida trailed Tulsa 27-7; won 38-30
  • 10/30 Florida State trailed Louisville 21-0; won 42-31

Not only are the Seminoles the only team that appears victorious on this list twice, they flipped both of their three-score deficits into a two-score final margin of victory, a feat unmatched by any other comeback this year. In the last two seasons, there have been a total of 26 games that featured a comeback of at least 17 points. Florida State has three of them, all in the 2014 calendar year: against Louisville and North Carolina State this season, and against Auburn in the BCS Championship game last January.

Dominating a game after falling behind by three scores can hardly be considered an ideal path to victory, but the Seminoles are certainly one the nation's best second-half teams and no lead may be safe against Winston. Florida State has trailed at halftime four times this year; UCLA is the only other FEI top-30 team that has trailed at the half as often. Beginning this week, I am publishing Alternate FEI ratings to isolate specific opponent-adjusted drive efficiency splits. Based only on first-half possessions, Florida State is only the 22nd-best team in the country. They are the No. 2 team in the country according to second-half FEI.

1st Half FEI Top 10 2nd Half FEI Top 10
Rank Team Record 1FEI Rank Team Record 2FEI
1 Alabama 8-0-0 0.301 1 Auburn 7-0-1 0.351
2 Oregon 6-1-1 0.292 2 Florida State 6-1-0 0.337
3 Arizona State 5-2-0 0.273 3 LSU 7-1-0 0.334
4 Clemson 5-1-1 0.257 4 Nevada 8-0-0 0.324
5 USC 7-2-0 0.251 5 Oregon 6-1-1 0.311
6 Auburn 4-2-2 0.246 6 Arizona 5-3-0 0.306
7 Oklahoma 5-1-2 0.246 7 Mississippi 7-2-0 0.278
8 Kansas State 5-2-0 0.242 8 Mississippi State 6-1-1 0.263
9 TCU 5-1-1 0.241 9 UCLA 4-4-1 0.261
10 Miami 5-2-1 0.238 10 Colorado State 6-2-0 0.254

The No. 1 team in the country in second-half FEI is Auburn. In their victory over Ole Miss on Saturday night, the Tigers overcame their first 10-point deficit of the season, winning 35-31 after trailing 24-14 five minutes into the second half. Auburn's only loss this year came in one of those 48 games mentioned earlier; the Tigers fell behind Mississippi State by 21 points in the first quarter on October 11 and couldn't recover, ultimately losing by a final score of 38-23.

Auburn doesn't have the same comeback resume as Florida State, but they have played excellent second-half football against a much tougher schedule. Auburn has faced the ninth-toughest schedule to date in the nation, while the Seminoles have played the 65th-toughest schedule to date.

In addition to first-half and second-half splits, the Alternate FEI ratings also isolate opponent-adjusted team ratings that neutralize special teams, field position, and turnovers. I haven't done enough research on these neutralized data sets to understand their full value, but I have used the neutralized data as part of the preseason projection formula.

ST Neutral FEI Top 10 FP Neutral FEI Top 10 TO Neutral FEI Top 10
Rank Team Record SFEI Rank Team Record FFEI Rank Team Record TFEI
1 Oregon 7-1 .301 1 Oregon 7-1 .265 1 Alabama 6-2 .270
2 Auburn 7-1 .271 2 Florida State 7-0 .262 2 Auburn 4-4 .257
3 Florida State 6-1 .256 3 Auburn 7-1 .259 3 Oregon 7-1 .257
4 Alabama 7-1 .251 4 Alabama 7-1 .244 4 Florida State 7-0 .234
5 UCLA 7-2 .233 5 USC 7-2 .217 5 Oklahoma 6-2 .229
6 Clemson 5-2 .233 6 UCLA 7-2 .214 6 Mississippi State 8-0 .225
7 Oklahoma 6-2 .227 7 Mississippi State 8-0 .211 7 UCLA 6-3 .220
8 Arizona 5-3 .224 8 Oklahoma 6-2 .205 8 Mississippi 8-1 .218
9 Mississippi 7-2 .223 9 Clemson 4-3 .205 9 Arizona State 5-2 .203
10 Georgia Tech 6-2 .216 10 Arizona State 5-2 .203 10 Georgia Tech 6-2 .196

Note that these ratings are produced by removing the value generated by special teams, field position, or turnovers from the scoring margin of the game. Due to cases in which the value of these splits exceeds the non-garbage scoring margin of games, an alternate record accompanies each team rating.

Florida State, for example, earned 6.9 points on special teams in its 23-17 victory over Clemson. In the special teams neutral FEI calculations, this result is a 0.9-point loss for Florida State instead of a win.

The full rankings for all teams across each of the Alternate FEI splits are available here.

Degree of Difficulty through Week 10

The degree of difficulty rankings (DOD) are based on current FEI ratings, but instead of measuring efficiency against schedule, DOD measures record against schedule. How difficult would it be for an elite team (two standard deviations better than average) to play a given team's schedule to date and achieve that team's record?

My hypothesis is that the inaugural College Football Playoff selection committee is likely to value and reward something akin to DOD through their process and deliberations. Updated DOD rankings for all teams with two or fewer losses are provided each week, and the current selection committee rankings are provided in the table for comparison.

Degree of Difficulty: Record Against Schedule To Date
DOD
Rank
Team Record DOD FEI FEI
Rank
SOS
Pvs
Rank SOS
Fut
Rank Win
Out
CFP
1 Mississippi State 8-0 .310 .233 8 .310 52 .264 5 .115 1
2 Florida State 7-0 .388 .262 3 .388 65 .484 30 .407 2
3 Auburn 7-1 .488 .299 2 .131 9 .298 7 .329 3
4 Oregon 7-1 .645 .302 1 .237 30 .532 36 .569 4
5 Arizona State 6-1 .653 .224 14 .231 29 .446 25 .247 9
6 Alabama 7-1 .713 .253 5 .272 44 .258 3 .175 5
7 UCLA 7-2 .735 .236 7 .111 5 .590 43 .413 18
8 Kansas State 6-1 .767 .202 17 .268 42 .298 8 .104 7
9 TCU 6-1 .768 .225 13 .345 58 .744 61 .599 6
10 Duke 6-1 .772 .182 22 .303 49 .811 75 .515 22
11 LSU 6-2 .798 .184 20 .116 7 .606 47 .268 16
12 Colorado State 7-1 .803 .157 28 .388 66 .901 93 .685 -
13 Michigan State 6-1 .832 .172 24 .264 41 .614 50 .236 8
14 Arizona 6-2 .860 .225 12 .115 6 .403 17 .206 19
15 Mississippi 7-2 .874 .256 4 .173 16 .653 55 .564 11
DOD
Rank
Team Record DOD FEI FEI
Rank
SOS
Pvs
Rank SOS
Fut
Rank Win
Out
CFP
16 Notre Dame 7-1 .876 .167 25 .391 67 .275 6 .036 10
17 Clemson 5-2 .878 .216 16 .159 13 .542 38 .324 21
18 Marshall 7-0 .900 .118 34 .900 128 .941 112 .805 -
19 Nebraska 7-1 .906 .186 19 .487 80 .589 42 .312 13
20 Utah 5-2 .917 .228 10 .210 27 .310 10 .151 17
21 Baylor 6-1 .924 .176 23 .530 85 .412 20 .116 12
22 Georgia 6-2 .935 .226 11 .333 56 .386 16 .212 20
23 Oklahoma 6-2 .945 .243 6 .300 47 .786 71 .719 15
24 Boise State 6-2 .945 .118 33 .348 59 .913 97 .529 -
25 Ohio State 7-1 .946 .194 18 .637 97 .607 48 .363 14
26 Georgia Tech 6-2 .948 .221 15 .366 61 .423 22 .215 24
27 Missouri 6-2 .981 .137 29 .457 76 .761 67 .345 -
28 East Carolina 5-2 .995 .047 50 .577 91 .930 100 .322 -
29 Air Force 5-2 .995 .016 59 .722 112 .760 66 .048 -
30 Minnesota 5-2 .996 .024 56 .522 84 .361 14 .001 -
DOD
Rank
Team Record DOD FEI FEI
Rank
SOS
Pvs
Rank SOS
Fut
Rank Win
Out
CFP
31 Georgia Southern 6-2 .998 .040 53 .516 83 .913 96 .456 -
32 Wisconsin 5-2 .998 .130 30 .642 99 .607 49 .129 25
33 Iowa 5-2 .998 .111 35 .691 109 .650 54 .113 -
34 Northern Illinois 5-2 .999 -.154 103 .787 120 .870 88 .002 -
DOD - Likelihood that an elite team would have the given team's record against the given team's schedule
SOS Pvs - Strength of Schedule of all games played to date
SOS Fut - Strength of Schedule of all games remaining to be played
Win Out - Likelihood given team will win all of its remaining games
CFP - College Football Playoff selection committee ranking

FEI 2014 Week 10 Ratings

The Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) is a college football rating system based on opponent-adjusted drive efficiency. Nearly 20,000 possessions are contested annually in FBS vs. FBS games. First-half clock-kills and end-of-game garbage drives and scores are filtered out. Game Efficiency (GE) is a function of the starting field position and outcome of non-garbage possessions. Opponent adjustments are calculated with special emphasis placed on quality performances against good teams, win or lose.

Strength of Schedule (SOS) is calculated as the likelihood that an "elite team" (two standard deviations above average) would win every game on the given team's schedule. SOS listed here includes all regular season games scheduled. A multifaceted approach to measuring schedule strength is available here and visualized here.

Mean Wins (FBS MW) represent the average total games a team with the given FEI rating should expect to win against its complete schedule of FBS opponents. Remaining Mean Wins (FBS RMW) represent the average total games a team with the given FEI rating should expect to win against the remaining opponents on its schedule.

Offensive FEI (OFEI) is opponent-adjusted offensive efficiency. Defensive FEI (DFEI) is opponent-adjusted defensive efficiency. Special Teams Efficiency (STE) is the composite efficiency of field goal kickoff, punt, and return units. Field Position Advantage (FPA) is the average share of field position value generated by offense, defense, and special teams efficiency.

These ratings are exclusively produced from 2014 game data and are not influenced by preseason projections. Complete ratings and ratings splits for all 128 FBS teams are available here. Supplemental data including points per drive, game splits, and game factors are available as well.

Rk Team FBS
Rec
FEI LW GE GE
Rk
SOS Rk
FBS
MW
FBS
RMW
OFEI Rk DFEI Rk STE Rk FPA Rk
1 Oregon 7-1 .302 1 .223 10 .126 35 9.5 2.5 .873 2 -.284 36 1.654 17 .537 22
2 Auburn 7-1 .299 6 .160 17 .039 3 8.7 2.1 .766 4 -.564 10 .378 54 .517 33
3 Florida State 7-0 .262 8 .153 18 .188 52 9.2 3.2 .733 5 -.325 33 .704 42 .495 69
4 Mississippi 7-2 .256 7 .220 11 .113 31 8.7 1.5 .361 22 -.645 4 1.170 30 .562 9
5 Alabama 7-1 .253 9 .250 3 .070 14 8.3 1.7 .576 12 -.470 17 -1.091 96 .474 99
6 Oklahoma 6-2 .243 14 .225 9 .236 58 10.3 3.7 .650 6 -.274 38 2.529 8 .539 20
7 UCLA 7-2 .236 12 .049 46 .065 12 8.7 2.3 .639 7 -.321 34 .180 62 .502 55
8 Mississippi State 8-0 .233 17 .217 12 .082 19 8.4 1.7 .426 16 -.602 8 .699 43 .524 25
9 USC 6-3 .231 4 .148 20 .055 8 8.6 2.0 .347 24 -.375 26 .622 45 .500 59
10 Utah 5-2 .228 5 .092 30 .065 11 7.7 2.6 -.174 84 -.694 2 3.049 5 .562 8
11 Georgia 6-2 .226 2 .215 13 .129 36 8.3 1.9 .564 13 -.165 50 1.293 26 .590 2
12 Arizona 6-2 .225 3 .093 29 .046 6 8.5 2.9 .385 19 -.351 31 .567 50 .546 13
Rk Team FBS
Rec
FEI LW GE GE
Rk
SOS Rk
FBS
MW
FBS
RMW
OFEI Rk DFEI Rk STE Rk FPA Rk
13 TCU 6-1 .225 11 .205 14 .257 62 9.2 3.6 .291 29 -.622 7 1.422 25 .565 6
14 Arizona State 6-1 .224 10 .066 38 .103 27 7.9 3.0 .600 8 -.270 40 .497 51 .507 44
15 Georgia Tech 6-2 .221 15 .123 24 .155 43 8.3 1.9 .952 1 .064 74 1.586 20 .540 18
16 Clemson 5-2 .216 16 .078 34 .086 22 8.0 3.2 .167 44 -.787 1 -.882 91 .513 36
17 Kansas State 6-1 .202 18 .248 4 .080 17 7.9 2.4 .372 20 -.477 15 2.069 11 .543 16
18 Ohio State 7-1 .194 20 .301 2 .386 81 10.2 3.2 .335 26 -.415 22 2.905 6 .595 1
19 Nebraska 7-1 .186 13 .235 6 .287 66 8.8 2.1 .208 38 -.529 11 2.660 7 .566 5
20 LSU 6-2 .184 28 .122 25 .071 15 7.2 2.0 .320 28 -.420 21 2.222 10 .538 21
21 Miami 5-3 .183 26 .138 22 .086 21 7.1 1.9 .579 11 -.333 32 .188 60 .494 71
22 Duke 6-1 .182 22 .141 21 .245 61 8.6 3.4 .184 40 -.504 12 3.575 2 .559 10
23 Baylor 6-1 .176 21 .243 5 .218 56 8.4 2.7 .365 21 -.284 37 1.186 28 .564 7
24 Michigan State 6-1 .172 23 .227 8 .162 45 8.2 2.9 .261 32 -.453 19 -.238 79 .540 19
25 Notre Dame 7-1 .167 19 .163 16 .107 29 8.3 2.0 .218 35 -.471 16 .787 40 .522 27

Posted by: Brian Fremeau on 04 Nov 2014

4 comments, Last at 06 Nov 2014, 9:46pm by Brian Fremeau

Comments

1
by techvet :: Wed, 11/05/2014 - 3:10pm

I know that FCS games are not included in the calculations, but shouldn't teams that scheduled them be penalized in the standings? If a student takes a course and but drops it, that student should *not* be treated the same as another student who takes the course, stays the course, does the works, and gets a B in it. Is there any penalty for Alabama playing an FCS school (a "glorified bye", as some call it)?

Theoretically, if Oregon beat Michigan State and then scheduled 11 games with FCS teams, would they still as high in DOD and FEI? If so, then there's a problem with the calculation model. Perhaps you have a multiplier built in of which I am not aware.

This is a case where winning percentage is not the whole story. It would seem to be that simply filtering out FCS games is not the answer.

2
by Brian Fremeau :: Thu, 11/06/2014 - 2:48pm

If Oregon beat Michigan State and played 11 FCS games, their degree of difficulty would be equal to the likelihood of an elite team going 1-0 in Eugene against MSU. This week, with MSU ranked 24th, that would be DOD of .830.

Let me flip your question. Is it tougher to be 6-1 against Michigan State's schedule to date or tougher to be 1-0 if the Spartans had played only Oregon and six FCS opponents? DOD says 1-0 vs. Oregon+6FCS is tougher than 6-1 against MSU's schedule to date. It would obviously be tougher to be 7-0 against MSU's schedule to date than against either of those examples.

3
by RoninX :: Thu, 11/06/2014 - 5:29pm

"DOD says 1-0 vs. Oregon+6FCS is tougher than 6-1 against MSU's schedule to date."

Isn't "1-0 vs. Oregon+6FCS" === "1-0 vs. Oregon" since the FCS schools don't count? If thats the case I assume that the DOD of going 1-0 vs. Oregon in Autzen probably (~.300-400 at best for an "average" top 10 team?) exceeds the DOD of virtually every team tier one college football - not just Michigan State's. Or maybe I'm misunderstanding DOD and this line of argument entirely.

4
by Brian Fremeau :: Thu, 11/06/2014 - 9:46pm

1-0 vs. Oregon+6FCS is equal to 1-0 vs. Oregon. The likelihood of elite team winning in Eugene is about 36 percent, so it that theoretical 1-0 would rank No. 2 in DOD this week behind Mississippi State's 8-0 and ahead of Florida State's 7-0.

I discussed 2013 end of regular season DOD in an FEI preseason FEI article:
http://www.footballoutsiders.com/fei-ratings/2014/fei-primer-degree-diff...

1. Auburn 12-1 .389 DOD
2. FSU 13-0 .431 DOD
3. Stanford 11-2 .547 DOD
4. Alabama 11-1 .554 DOD
5. MSU 12-1 .629 DOD

Interesting that Mississippi State and Florida State DOD to date this year are both ahead of last year's end of year No. 1 mark.