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DVOA has finally climbed on board the Wentz Wagon! The Eagles move into the No. 1 spot, but they aren't the only strong, well-balanced team in the NFL this year. New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and the Los Angeles Rams make this one of the best seasons ever for multiple teams over 30% in DVOA, and Minnesota isn't far behind.

19 Nov 2014

FEI Week 12: Mean Field Position

by Brian Fremeau

Alabama ascended to the top of the latest College Football Playoff rankings this week after knocking off previously undefeated Mississippi State on Saturday. The Crimson Tide remain No. 2 in the FEI ratings behind Oregon, but No. 1 in first-half FEI. Alabama is the only team "undefeated at halftime," outscoring their opponents by a combined margin of 149 points in their 10 FBS games to date.

The Bulldogs were on the wrong end of another strong start for Alabama last weekend. The Crimson Tide offense wasn't firing on all cylinders early, but did move the ball past the Mississippi State 40-yard line on four of their seven first-half possessions, driving each of their last two possessions into the end zone. And the Alabama defense was stifling, recording a safety and allowing only one Bulldogs first-half possession past the Crimson Tide 40-yard line, a drive that ended with a Mississippi State field goal and a 19-3 halftime deficit.

Starting field position was a significant factor in the first half. Alabama started drives on average from their own 36-yard line, and Mississippi State started their drives on average from their own 15 in the first two quarters. Five of the Bulldogs' seven first-half possessions started inside their own 20-yard line, and Mississippi State's offense netted a grand total of only 75 yards on those five drives.

I publish starting field position data each week because of its sometimes significant impact on the outcome of games, but how teams work with the starting field position they are dealt tells an even richer story. I've been playing with ways to represent where the ball goes from that point forward. Where the ball is at the start of a drive is important, but where is the ball on average over the course of a drive, a series of possessions, a half, a game?

Let's look at the first half of the Alabama and Mississippi State game more closely. Alabama's average starting field position in the first half was their own 36-yard line, but they gained an average of 30 yards on each of those drives and ran a total of 43 first-half plays. Mississippi State started their drives on average from their own 15-yard line, gained an average of 21 yards on those drives, and ran a total of 40 first-half plays. The chart below illustrates the line of scrimmage for each team's offense over the first half of the game.

Average line of scrimmage is one way to represent the movement of the ball, but methodical drives carry more weight than explosive ones due to the number of plays. The average position of the ball could also be represented simply by finding the average between the starting and ending field position of each drive. We'll call this "mean field position."

Alabama averaged a total of 30 yards on each of its first seven drives, so its mean field position on its first-half drives was 15 yards downfield from its starting field position, or, the Mississippi State 49-yard line. The Bulldogs' average drive gain in the first half was 21 yards, so their mean field position was about 11 yards downfield from its starting field position, or, their own 26-yard line. Alabama maintained a net mean field position advantage of 25 yards per drive in the first half.

The table below identifies the offense, defense, and net mean field position (MFP) rankings for all 128 FBS teams through Week 12. MFP is represented in terms of yards from the goal line (i.e., Ohio State's offensive MFP of 42.0 is a mean field position of the opponent's 42-yard line; the Buckeyes' defensive MFP means their opponents have a mean field position of their own 38-yard line).

Mean Field Position
Team Record FEI
Rank
Off
MFP
Rank Def
MFP
Rank Net
MFP
Rank
Ohio State 9-1 9 42.0 1 62.0 2 20.0 1
Baylor 7-1 6 45.9 2 61.3 4 15.4 2
Georgia 8-2 4 47.0 5 60.0 7 13.0 3
Marshall 9-0 33 45.9 3 58.8 17 12.8 4
TCU 8-1 10 47.7 7 59.3 13 11.5 5
Nebraska 7-2 25 48.0 8 59.4 11 11.5 6
Mississippi 7-2 3 53.0 45 63.6 1 10.6 7
Louisiana Tech 7-2 64 48.6 11 58.8 16 10.2 8
Memphis 6-3 42 51.5 24 61.4 3 9.9 9
Michigan State 7-2 24 48.5 10 58.0 26 9.5 10
Wisconsin 7-2 21 50.2 14 59.5 10 9.3 11
Duke 7-2 18 50.4 15 59.4 12 9.0 12
Notre Dame 7-3 26 48.2 9 56.9 37 8.7 13
Oregon 8-1 1 46.5 4 54.7 65 8.1 14
Alabama 9-1 2 52.3 37 60.1 6 7.7 15
Team Record FEI
Rank
Off
MFP
Rank Def
MFP
Rank Net
MFP
Rank
Miami 5-4 17 51.5 25 58.7 18 7.2 16
Mississippi State 8-1 15 51.7 28 58.7 19 7.0 17
Arizona State 7-2 14 51.2 20 57.5 32 6.4 18
Kansas State 6-2 28 51.3 22 57.7 29 6.4 19
Minnesota 6-3 39 52.2 35 58.4 22 6.2 20
Georgia Southern 7-3 71 49.2 12 55.4 55 6.2 21
Oklahoma 7-3 20 51.5 23 57.6 30 6.2 22
Florida 5-4 40 52.9 43 58.9 15 6.0 23
Arizona 8-2 16 51.8 31 57.4 33 5.6 24
Louisiana Lafayette 6-3 100 51.0 18 56.4 40 5.4 25
Georgia Tech 8-2 8 47.7 6 53.1 83 5.4 26
Boise State 8-2 38 51.1 19 56.3 43 5.1 27
Arkansas State 5-4 73 51.9 33 56.9 36 5.0 28
Clemson 6-3 23 56.4 90 61.0 5 4.6 29
Central Florida 5-3 61 51.9 32 56.2 44 4.3 30
Team Record FEI
Rank
Off
MFP
Rank Def
MFP
Rank Net
MFP
Rank
Stanford 4-5 37 53.6 49 57.9 28 4.2 31
Air Force 7-2 48 50.6 16 54.9 64 4.2 32
Pittsburgh 3-6 49 51.8 30 55.9 49 4.2 33
East Carolina 5-3 50 51.2 21 55.3 57 4.1 34
Iowa 6-3 54 54.9 68 59.0 14 4.1 35
Tennessee 4-5 32 54.4 62 58.5 20 4.1 36
Utah State 7-3 46 54.2 57 58.2 24 4.0 37
San Diego State 4-5 74 53.0 46 57.0 35 3.9 38
Rice 6-4 99 51.7 27 55.3 56 3.7 39
LSU 6-4 30 56.3 89 59.8 8 3.5 40
Utah 6-3 13 54.8 67 58.3 23 3.5 41
Auburn 7-3 12 50.9 17 54.3 68 3.4 42
Northern Illinois 7-2 86 54.0 55 57.2 34 3.1 43
Colorado State 8-1 29 52.6 40 55.5 53 2.9 44
Western Michigan 6-3 57 52.0 34 54.9 63 2.9 45
Team Record FEI
Rank
Off
MFP
Rank Def
MFP
Rank Net
MFP
Rank
UTEP 6-4 103 53.7 52 56.6 38 2.9 46
Texas 6-5 66 56.8 97 59.6 9 2.9 47
Missouri 7-2 27 55.2 74 58.1 25 2.9 48
Michigan 5-5 63 55.6 78 58.4 21 2.8 49
Arkansas 4-5 34 53.8 54 56.4 41 2.6 50
USC 7-3 11 53.4 48 55.5 54 2.1 51
Boston College 5-4 31 54.4 63 56.4 42 1.9 52
Nevada 5-4 43 51.6 26 53.1 80 1.5 53
Louisville 6-3 19 56.3 85 57.6 31 1.3 54
Penn State 6-4 47 56.7 94 58.0 27 1.3 55
BYU 6-4 51 53.3 47 54.2 70 0.9 56
Florida State 9-0 5 53.0 44 53.8 74 0.8 57
UCLA 8-2 7 55.2 72 55.9 50 0.7 58
Virginia 3-6 44 55.7 81 56.1 47 0.3 59
North Carolina State 5-5 76 53.6 50 53.7 76 0.1 60
Team Record FEI
Rank
Off
MFP
Rank Def
MFP
Rank Net
MFP
Rank
Navy 4-5 56 52.3 36 51.9 90 -0.3 61
Akron 3-6 112 55.7 80 55.3 58 -0.4 62
UAB 4-5 95 55.1 71 54.3 69 -0.9 63
Massachusetts 3-7 97 52.6 38 51.6 97 -1.0 64
Toledo 5-4 69 52.6 39 51.5 99 -1.1 65
Washington 5-5 45 56.9 98 55.7 52 -1.3 66
Houston 4-4 62 56.9 99 55.3 59 -1.7 67
Texas State 4-5 107 56.5 91 54.6 67 -1.9 68
West Virginia 5-4 36 57.2 101 55.1 60 -2.0 69
Texas A&M 6-4 59 54.5 64 52.4 87 -2.1 70
Washington State 2-7 53 53.7 51 51.6 98 -2.1 71
Kentucky 4-6 79 56.0 84 53.9 73 -2.1 72
Temple 4-5 65 57.2 102 55.0 61 -2.2 73
Oklahoma State 4-5 87 58.4 109 56.1 48 -2.3 74
Oregon State 4-5 55 55.9 83 53.5 77 -2.3 75
Team Record FEI
Rank
Off
MFP
Rank Def
MFP
Rank Net
MFP
Rank
Florida Atlantic 3-7 110 55.5 77 53.1 81 -2.4 76
Western Kentucky 5-5 82 50.1 13 47.6 123 -2.4 77
UTSA 3-7 88 58.7 113 56.1 46 -2.6 78
Kent State 1-9 106 58.4 110 55.8 51 -2.6 79
Idaho 1-9 118 54.3 61 51.7 95 -2.7 80
Appalachian State 4-4 119 54.3 58 51.6 96 -2.7 81
North Carolina 4-5 58 54.6 66 51.8 94 -2.8 82
Central Michigan 6-4 83 54.3 59 51.5 101 -2.8 83
Louisiana Monroe 3-7 111 59.0 117 56.1 45 -2.9 84
Ohio 4-5 121 57.2 103 54.1 71 -3.1 85
Ball State 2-6 85 55.0 69 51.9 89 -3.1 86
California 4-5 41 51.7 29 48.5 117 -3.2 87
South Alabama 6-4 115 57.3 105 54.1 72 -3.3 88
Hawaii 2-8 77 58.3 108 55.0 62 -3.3 89
Bowling Green 6-3 114 55.2 73 51.5 100 -3.7 90
Team Record FEI
Rank
Off
MFP
Rank Def
MFP
Rank Net
MFP
Rank
Syracuse 2-7 68 60.2 122 56.5 39 -3.7 91
Buffalo 2-6 113 52.8 41 49.0 115 -3.8 92
Army 3-6 117 53.8 53 49.6 112 -4.1 93
Rutgers 5-4 72 56.3 88 51.9 91 -4.4 94
Middle Tennessee 4-5 98 54.6 65 50.2 110 -4.4 95
South Carolina 4-5 35 52.9 42 48.4 118 -4.4 96
South Florida 3-6 120 59.2 119 54.7 66 -4.5 97
Northwestern 3-6 52 56.7 96 52.2 88 -4.5 98
Colorado 2-8 67 55.4 75 50.8 105 -4.6 99
Indiana 2-7 78 57.4 106 52.6 86 -4.8 100
San Jose State 2-7 91 54.3 60 49.4 113 -5.0 101
Texas Tech 2-7 90 55.8 82 50.6 106 -5.2 102
New Mexico 3-7 80 55.0 70 49.8 111 -5.2 103
Maryland 5-4 60 59.0 115 53.7 75 -5.3 104
Fresno State 3-6 101 57.3 104 51.8 93 -5.5 105
Team Record FEI
Rank
Off
MFP
Rank Def
MFP
Rank Net
MFP
Rank
Tulsa 2-8 109 56.3 86 50.6 107 -5.7 106
Illinois 3-6 96 57.0 100 51.1 103 -5.9 107
Kansas 2-7 89 59.1 118 53.1 84 -6.0 108
Virginia Tech 4-5 22 59.4 120 53.3 79 -6.1 109
UNLV 1-9 104 56.7 95 50.3 108 -6.3 110
Cincinnati 6-3 75 55.7 79 49.2 114 -6.4 111
Tulane 2-7 84 58.4 111 51.9 92 -6.6 112
Miami (OH) 2-8 105 55.4 76 48.4 119 -6.9 113
Iowa State 2-6 81 57.9 107 50.9 104 -7.0 114
Old Dominion 3-6 122 54.1 56 47.0 125 -7.1 115
Connecticut 1-7 92 60.4 124 53.1 82 -7.3 116
Purdue 2-7 70 56.3 87 48.9 116 -7.4 117
North Texas 2-7 124 60.9 125 52.8 85 -8.0 118
Florida International 3-6 94 58.9 114 50.3 109 -8.6 119
Vanderbilt 2-7 108 60.2 121 51.5 102 -8.7 120
Team Record FEI
Rank
Off
MFP
Rank Def
MFP
Rank Net
MFP
Rank
New Mexico State 1-8 123 56.6 92 47.7 121 -9.0 121
Troy 3-7 125 56.6 93 47.6 122 -9.0 122
Wake Forest 1-8 93 63.4 128 53.5 78 -9.9 123
Southern Mississippi 2-8 116 59.0 116 47.4 124 -11.6 124
Wyoming 3-6 102 60.3 123 48.4 120 -11.9 125
Georgia State 0-9 127 58.5 112 45.2 127 -13.3 126
Eastern Michigan 1-8 128 62.9 127 46.3 126 -16.6 127
SMU 0-9 126 62.4 126 43.5 128 -18.9 128

This metric is a work in progress and I'm happy to receive any feedback on its development from here.

Degree of Difficulty through Week 12

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 Florida State 9-0 .278 .251 5 .278 54 .836 53 .756 3
2 Alabama 9-1 .467 .289 2 .132 18 .744 42 .750 1
3 Oregon 8-1 .480 .324 1 .138 20 .881 66 .926 2
4 Mississippi State 8-1 .609 .214 15 .192 29 .472 10 .265 4
5 TCU 8-1 .679 .232 10 .273 52 .940 82 .878 5
6 UCLA 8-2 .696 .244 7 .085 10 .679 31 .553 9
7 Ohio State 9-1 .752 .238 9 .359 72 .968 95 .952 6
8 Baylor 7-1 .774 .244 6 .350 69 .854 55 .794 7
9 Arizona 8-2 .799 .209 16 .085 11 .458 7 .220 15
10 Arizona State 7-2 .828 .214 14 .179 27 .594 24 .396 13
11 Colorado State 8-1 .842 .136 29 .457 84 .864 60 .583 -
12 Marshall 9-0 .873 .109 33 .873 128 .970 106 .814 -
13 Georgia 8-2 .881 .261 4 .231 41 .714 36 .653 10
14 Mississippi 7-2 .884 .268 3 .214 35 .609 25 .560 8
15 Duke 7-2 .909 .183 18 .231 42 .961 89 .868 -
DOD
Rank
Team Record DOD FEI FEI
Rank
SOS
Pvs
Rank SOS
Fut
Rank Win
Out
CFP
16 Georgia Tech 8-2 .920 .241 8 .282 55 .500 14 .347 18
17 Michigan State 7-2 .924 .147 24 .160 24 .856 56 .587 11
18 Kansas State 6-2 .945 .137 28 .260 49 .428 5 .090 12
19 Nebraska 7-2 .951 .146 25 .322 63 .833 52 .477 23
20 Missouri 7-2 .957 .138 27 .371 74 .714 37 .327 20
21 Boise State 8-2 .961 .100 38 .324 64 .946 83 .638 -
22 Wisconsin 7-2 .992 .178 21 .580 96 .833 51 .560 16
23 Northern Illinois 7-2 .995 -.098 86 .638 106 .891 69 .093 -
24 Air Force 7-2 .998 .058 48 .682 113 .868 63 .255 -
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 12 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 8-1 .324 1 .219 7 .122 31 9.7 1.9 .814 2 -.311 33 2.012 10 .542 15
2 Alabama 9-1 .289 2 .205 8 .099 24 9.1 .7 .594 9 -.578 7 -.777 95 .481 99
3 Mississippi 7-2 .268 3 .220 6 .130 32 9.0 1.5 .359 23 -.667 5 1.170 25 .562 6
4 Georgia 8-2 .261 11 .241 5 .165 40 9.0 .7 .609 8 -.334 30 2.437 8 .591 1
5 Florida State 9-0 .251 6 .142 19 .232 58 9.3 1.7 .648 6 -.404 23 .929 32 .498 59
6 Baylor 7-1 .244 7 .257 3 .299 68 9.6 2.8 .429 18 -.447 17 .962 31 .561 7
7 UCLA 8-2 .244 8 .060 41 .058 11 8.8 1.5 .694 5 -.236 43 .143 61 .502 52
8 Georgia Tech 8-2 .241 13 .164 14 .141 36 8.7 .3 .891 1 -.078 57 1.445 19 .556 10
9 Ohio State 9-1 .238 12 .271 2 .348 74 10.6 2.0 .542 11 -.435 18 .752 44 .564 4
10 TCU 8-1 .232 5 .201 9 .257 59 9.3 1.9 .377 21 -.564 9 1.567 15 .557 9
11 USC 7-3 .228 14 .143 18 .064 13 8.6 1.1 .376 22 -.389 24 .614 45 .506 45
12 Auburn 7-3 .225 4 .103 26 .031 3 7.3 .3 .732 4 -.305 34 -.589 90 .504 48
Rk Team FBS
Rec
FEI LW GE GE
Rk
SOS Rk
FBS
MW
FBS
RMW
OFEI Rk DFEI Rk STE Rk FPA Rk
13 Utah 6-3 .215 16 .056 44 .054 9 7.3 1.5 -.095 72 -.670 4 2.701 6 .544 14
14 Arizona State 7-2 .214 10 .060 42 .106 26 7.7 1.3 .507 13 -.345 28 .390 53 .524 27
15 Mississippi State 8-1 .214 9 .189 10 .091 21 8.3 1.3 .336 25 -.585 6 .439 51 .518 31
16 Arizona 8-2 .209 15 .094 30 .039 4 8.2 1.0 .318 28 -.341 29 .593 46 .553 11
17 Miami 5-4 .188 19 .116 24 .080 19 7.1 1.5 .589 10 -.348 27 .140 62 .496 66
18 Duke 7-2 .183 20 .125 23 .222 56 8.5 1.9 .153 42 -.519 12 3.144 2 .559 8
19 Louisville 6-3 .183 17 .098 29 .172 48 8.0 1.5 .065 51 -.700 3 .108 64 .483 92
20 Oklahoma 7-3 .180 22 .168 12 .227 57 9.4 2.0 .528 12 -.171 50 1.926 11 .528 24
21 Wisconsin 7-2 .178 26 .249 4 .484 95 9.1 1.5 .252 34 -.531 11 -.133 76 .500 54
22 Virginia Tech 4-5 .164 30 .011 62 .133 34 7.0 1.7 -.182 83 -.740 1 .780 42 .492 76
23 Clemson 6-3 .156 18 .057 43 .076 17 7.0 1.7 .024 57 -.730 2 -.844 97 .497 61
24 Michigan State 7-2 .147 28 .181 11 .137 35 7.8 1.6 .327 27 -.111 53 .773 43 .549 13
25 Nebraska 7-2 .146 21 .164 15 .268 62 8.0 1.4 .174 40 -.363 26 2.647 7 .564 3

Posted by: Brian Fremeau on 19 Nov 2014

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