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03 Dec 2014

FEI Week 14: You Better Watch Out

by Brian Fremeau

A familiar face has returned to the top of the FEI ratings this week. Alabama has not been ranked No. 1 in FEI since Week 1, drifting down into the middle teens in the middle part of the season. But the nation's best program has very much looked like it is primed for the Playoff down the stretch. The Crimson Tide trailed at the half against Auburn on Saturday, their first halftime deficit of the season, and allowed a short-field touchdown early in the third quarter after an opening series interception. But Alabama dominated Auburn from that point forward, scoring touchdowns on each of its final five non-garbage possessions and outscoring the Tigers 34-11 over the final 25 minutes of the game.

Alabama is the only team currently ranked in the top 10 in both Offensive FEI (sixth) and Defensive FEI (fourth). Only three other teams (Florida State, TCU, and Ohio State) are ranked in the top 20 in both measures. Alabama also owns the top ranking in each alternate FEI rating. The Crimson Tide are the best first-half, second-half, special teams-neutral, field position-neutral, and turnover-neutral team in the nation.

Unlike Alabama, Oregon has consistently held one of the top spots in the FEI ratings all season. The Ducks slipped to No. 5 in Week 6 following their loss to Arizona, but otherwise have been ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in every other week of the season to date. Like Alabama, Oregon holds its spot in each alternate FEI rating split. Oregon hasn't lost ground to the field, either. The FEI rating margin between No. 2 Oregon and this week's No. 3 team is equal to the margin between No. 3 and No. 6.

Oh yeah, about that No. 3 team. Georgia Tech has ascended to their highest rating of the FEI era (2003 to present). I projected the Yellow Jackets at No. 43 at the start of the season, and they ranked outside the top 20 six weeks ago. According to GFEI, opponent-adjusted single game efficiency, each of Georgia Tech's last five game performances ranks among the top 100 single-game performances of the season. The Yellow Jackets join Alabama, Oregon, and No. 11 Auburn as the only teams with five top-100 GFEI performances this year. Georgia Tech's opponent this weekend, Florida State, has only one.

I've discussed the plight of the undefeated and unloved Seminoles on several occasions this year, and the College Football Playoff selection committee released their most controversial rankings last night, dropping FSU to No. 4. Completely unexpected questions are now being asked about whether winning every game is really enough for the committee. In the end, Florida State has met every challenge it has faced, and though they remain atop the FEI Degree of Difficulty rankings and compare favorably with other recent contender DOD ratings, the Seminoles do appear to be in their most precarious position this weekend in the ACC championship game against Georgia Tech.

There is tremendous intrigue heading into the final weekend of the season about how the committee may or may not reward this next round of results. Most are thinking about the College Football Playoff top six and how they may shake out in the end, but I'm most curious about Arizona and whether they are positioned to possibly leap into the mix. The Wildcats are No. 9 in FEI entering the Pac-12 championship game against Oregon, but they have the fourth-best DOD rating, and would boost that even further with an upset victory over the Ducks (for the second time this year).

According to the FEI game projections for the weekend, there is only a 10 percent chance that Alabama, Oregon, TCU, Florida State, Ohio State, and Baylor will all be victorious. There is a 58 percent chance that at least two of those six will lose (FSU and OSU are the most likely victims according to FEI), and a 23 percent chance that at least three of the six will lose. I'm projecting single-score margins of victory in four of the six games, and I wish the selection committee good luck with their deliberations.

Degree of Difficulty through Week 14

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. 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 Rank Win
Out
CFP
1 Florida State 11-0 0.279 0.237 6 0.279 60 0.156 38 0.393 4
2 Alabama 10-1 0.392 0.308 1 0.100 21 0.077 15 0.805 1
3 Oregon 10-1 0.521 0.303 2 0.173 43 0.117 27 0.706 2
4 Arizona 10-2 0.704 0.221 9 0.078 15 0.034 2 0.294 7
5 Mississippi State 9-2 0.726 0.220 10 0.076 12 0.076 13 - 10
6 TCU 9-1 0.727 0.234 7 0.291 61 0.287 64 0.983 3
7 Ohio State 11-1 0.753 0.229 8 0.346 69 0.254 59 0.627 5
8 Baylor 9-1 0.778 0.207 14 0.358 72 0.305 67 0.724 6
9 Georgia Tech 9-2 0.830 0.270 3 0.153 34 0.098 23 0.607 11
10 UCLA 9-3 0.852 0.214 12 0.077 14 0.077 16 - 15
11 Michigan State 9-2 0.905 0.166 22 0.178 45 0.178 48 - 8
12 Kansas State 8-2 0.909 0.157 25 0.218 53 0.135 32 0.276 9
DOD
Rank
Team Record DOD FEI FEI
Rank
SOS
Pvs
Rank SOS Rank Win
Out
CFP
13 Mississippi 8-3 0.911 0.243 5 0.097 20 0.097 22 - 12
14 Missouri 9-2 0.913 0.170 20 0.263 57 0.111 26 0.195 16
15 Clemson 8-3 0.913 0.167 21 0.071 10 0.071 11 - 18
16 Georgia 8-3 0.935 0.262 4 0.126 27 0.126 31 - 14
17 Arizona State 8-3 0.945 0.179 16 0.140 30 0.140 34 - 17
18 Wisconsin 9-2 0.963 0.187 15 0.460 89 0.304 66 0.373 13
19 Louisville 8-3 0.964 0.173 18 0.208 50 0.208 54 - 21
20 Boise State 10-2 0.971 0.114 34 0.396 80 0.390 80 0.965 22
21 Colorado State 9-2 0.975 0.117 32 0.431 83 0.431 84 - -
22 Duke 8-3 0.983 0.138 28 0.216 52 0.216 56 - -
23 Northern Illinois 9-2 0.988 -0.043 74 0.496 92 0.489 91 0.738 -
24 Oklahoma 8-3 0.989 0.172 19 0.259 56 0.255 60 0.980 20
25 Marshall 10-1 0.989 0.111 36 0.845 128 0.829 126 0.805 -

FEI 2014 Week 14 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 and conference championship 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 Alabama 10-1 .308 2 .205 8 .077 15 10.2 .8 .622 6 -.643 4 -.613 92 .483 97
2 Oregon 10-1 .303 1 .262 3 .117 27 10.4 .7 .749 3 -.336 26 1.788 12 .542 16
3 Georgia Tech 9-2 .270 6 .156 16 .098 23 9.8 .6 .854 1 -.170 48 1.484 18 .546 12
4 Georgia 8-3 .262 3 .212 7 .126 31 8.8 .0 .581 8 -.379 22 1.802 11 .585 1
5 Mississippi 8-3 .243 12 .163 14 .097 22 8.4 .0 .257 33 -.699 3 .715 39 .534 19
6 Florida State 11-0 .237 4 .128 21 .156 38 9.6 .4 .617 7 -.392 20 .444 49 .484 94
7 TCU 9-1 .234 7 .203 9 .287 64 9.4 1.0 .369 20 -.567 6 2.141 7 .571 4
8 Ohio State 11-1 .229 8 .268 2 .254 59 11.1 .6 .518 11 -.397 18 1.008 29 .572 3
9 Arizona 10-2 .221 13 .106 25 .034 2 9.4 .3 .412 16 -.342 25 .057 66 .543 15
10 Mississippi State 9-2 .220 10 .196 10 .076 13 8.3 .0 .340 22 -.524 11 .462 47 .526 25
11 Auburn 7-4 .218 9 .072 34 .025 1 7.0 .0 .753 2 -.199 43 -.340 81 .505 52
12 UCLA 9-3 .214 5 .055 43 .077 16 8.3 .0 .669 4 -.109 55 .450 48 .497 66
Rk Team FBS
Rec
FEI LW GE GE
Rk
SOS Rk
FBS
MW
FBS
RMW
OFEI Rk DFEI Rk STE Rk FPA Rk
13 USC 8-4 .210 16 .134 19 .092 20 8.7 .0 .311 27 -.372 23 .535 44 .516 33
14 Baylor 9-1 .207 11 .225 4 .305 67 9.1 .7 .387 17 -.385 21 .941 33 .558 6
15 Wisconsin 9-2 .187 17 .220 5 .304 66 9.6 .4 .364 21 -.472 14 -.313 79 .492 75
16 Arizona State 8-3 .179 15 .061 38 .140 34 7.4 .0 .331 25 -.350 24 .691 41 .532 22
17 Arkansas 5-6 .174 20 .077 33 .046 4 6.4 .0 .316 26 -.394 19 -.385 82 .525 28
18 Louisville 8-3 .173 14 .087 31 .208 54 8.0 .0 .125 49 -.633 5 -.498 89 .472 109
19 Oklahoma 8-3 .172 18 .190 11 .255 60 9.3 1.0 .504 12 -.197 44 2.116 8 .529 23
20 Missouri 9-2 .170 25 .106 24 .111 26 8.4 .2 .066 55 -.529 9 .586 43 .493 74
21 Clemson 8-3 .167 22 .094 28 .071 11 7.1 .0 -.046 63 -.858 1 -1.263 106 .498 64
22 Michigan State 9-2 .166 23 .214 6 .178 48 8.3 .0 .332 24 -.185 45 1.556 16 .549 8
23 Stanford 6-5 .163 35 .091 30 .057 6 6.6 .0 .121 50 -.512 12 -.488 87 .506 49
24 Utah 7-4 .160 19 .026 60 .075 12 6.5 .0 -.112 75 -.471 15 2.674 5 .537 17
25 Kansas State 8-2 .157 21 .186 12 .135 32 7.6 .3 .340 23 -.241 37 2.703 4 .547 11

Posted by: Brian Fremeau on 03 Dec 2014

3 comments, Last at 04 Dec 2014, 9:54pm by Brian Fremeau

Comments

1
by RickD :: Thu, 12/04/2014 - 11:44am

Seems that the message to FSU with the #4 seed is that they have no margin of error. Should they lose to Georgia Tech, they'll be dropped out of the top four barring a highly unlikely set of upsets to other contenders.

2
by gaamoo :: Thu, 12/04/2014 - 7:02pm

The table has Wisconsin ahead of USC and Baylor despite being ranked lower.

3
by Brian Fremeau :: Thu, 12/04/2014 - 9:54pm

Weird. Fixed, thanks.