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» Seventh Day Adventure: Week 13

The biggest game this week is the Iron Bowl, where the playoff hopes of Alabama, Auburn, and Georgia hang in the balance.

05 Jan 2015

FEI: Bowl Impact

by Brian Fremeau

It is tempting to put a lot of weight into the results of bowl games. It is even more tempting to be selective about particular game results before passing judgment.

The Big Ten conference had a very good day on January 1. All four Big Ten teams in the five bowl games played on Thursday were underdogs, but three came away with big wins over highly-ranked opponents. Wisconsin led the charge with an overtime victory over Auburn in the Outback Bowl, kicking a 29-yard field goal at the end of regulation after Auburn took the lead with less than three minutes left. Michigan State mounted a spectacular comeback against Baylor in the Cotton Bowl, erasing a 20-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter with three touchdowns and a blocked field goal to win. Ohio State trailed Alabama 21-6 midway through the second quarter but was dominant the rest of the way, scoring 28 straight and holding off the Crimson Tide 42-35.

Those three victories are worth celebrating for Big Ten fans. According to the opponent-adjusted single game efficiency ratings (GFEI) that form the basis of the weekly FEI ratings, they were the three best performances by Big Ten teams this bowl season. Each ranks among the best 150 single-game performances of the season, each ranking in the 90th percentile of all games played.

Only one of the three -- Ohio State's victory over Alabama -- ranks among the five best performances of the bowl season, however. The best five games played each ranks in the 98th percentile of FBS games this season.

Best Single-Game Opponent-Adjusted Bowl Performances
Team Opponent Final NG Final GFEI GFEI
Rank
TCU Horned Frogs Mississippi Rebels Won 42-3 42-0 .915 3
Oregon Ducks Florida State Seminoles Won 59-20 59-20 .913 4
Clemson Tigers Oklahoma Sooners Won 40-6 40-0 .706 19
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Mississippi State Bulldogs Won 49-34 49-27 .667 26
Ohio State Buckeyes Alabama Crimson Tide Won 42-35 42-35 .663 27

Which conference has had the best bowl season? Many sites track bowl results in terms of wins and losses alone. Among the Power 5 conferences in terms of bowl records, the Pac-12 leads the way with a 6-2 overall record, followed by the SEC (7-5), Big Ten (5-5), ACC (4-7), and Big 12 (2-5). Alternatively, we can rank each conference by their average GFEI ratings in bowl games. The table below presents the rankings for the Power 5 conferences according to average GFEI for all bowls and the average of each conference's best five GFEI bowl performances.

Power 5 Conferences By Average GFEI Bowl Ratings
Conference Bowl
Record
All Bowl
Average GFEI
Rank Best Five Bowl
Average GFEI
Rank
Pac-12 6-2 .360 1 .523 1
SEC 7-5 .279 2 .424 4
Big Ten 5-5 .222 4 .459 2
ACC 4-7 .205 5 .452 3
Big 12 2-5 .251 3 .380 5

The Big Ten had a strong set of performances at the top, but also had some clunkers. Iowa's blowout loss to Tennessee and Maryland's blowout loss to Stanford both rank among the seven worst single-game GFEI performances of this bowl season. The Pac-12 not only were led by an exceptional GFEI performance by Oregon over Florida State in the Rose Bowl, but also had no clunkers. Each of their two bowl losses (Arizona to Boise State, Washington to Oklahoma State) were decided by a single score.

What impact has the overall bowl picture had on the FEI ratings? There were certainly some surprising results -- 20 of the 38 bowls were won by the Vegas underdog; FEI ratings fared somewhat better, picking 21 of 38 bowl winners correctly.

Some teams dropped significantly due to poor bowl performances. Oklahoma, Colorado State, and North Carolina, each of whom suffered a blowout bowl loss, dropped by at least 10 ranking positions each. Rutgers (40-21 winner over North Carolina, 40-7 in non-garbage time) jumped up 12 ranking positions as a result.

Overall, teams changed by an average ranking position of three spots from the pre-bowl rankings to this week. Florida State dropped from No. 4 to No. 7 following its Rose Bowl debacle. Ohio State moved up from No. 6 to No. 4. TCU moved up from No. 8 to No. 6. Baylor fell from No. 9 to No. 10. With few exceptions, the results of the bowl season did not have a dramatic impact on the overall FEI ratings. This is by design, of course. The bowl game is one of only a dozen single-game performances that constitute a team's season to date, and unless the game performance was a significant outlier in comparison to the rest of a team's performances, I didn't expect there to be much movement.

Ohio State and Oregon will play for the national championship next Monday after disposing of their opponents in the inaugural College Football Playoff semifinal games last week. Heading into the bowls, FEI would have projected a 66.7 percent win likelihood for the Ducks over the Buckeyes. Based on the latest FEI ratings, the Ducks have a 68.1 percent win likelihood. Both Ohio State and Oregon had their FEI ratings impacted by their individual bowl performances and by the collective performances of their opponents to date. The impact on Oregon's ratings was more significant.

Oregon Ducks GFEI Ratings Pre-Bowl vs. Post-Bowl Ohio State Buckeyes GFEI Ratings Pre-Bowl vs. Post-Bowl
Opponent Pre-Bowl
GFEI
Post-Bowl
GFEI
GFEI
Delta
Opponent Pre-Bowl
GFEI
Post-Bowl
GFEI
GFEI
Delta
Michigan State .380 .422 .042 Navy .203 .203 .000
Wyoming .279 .277 -.002 Virginia Tech .073 .060 -.013
Washington State .113 .128 .015 Kent State .360 .360 .000
Arizona .198 .202 .004 Cincinnati .230 .222 -.008
UCLA .727 .754 .027 Maryland .426 .357 -.069
Washington .473 .455 -.018 Rutgers .499 .568 .069
California .288 .294 .006 Penn State .203 .238 .035
Stanford .733 .779 .046 Illinois .434 .420 -.014
Utah .574 .638 .064 Michigan State .632 .674 .042
Colorado .377 .378 .001 Minnesota .382 .341 -.041
Oregon State .471 .486 .015 Indiana .006 .008 .002
Arizona .802 .806 .004 Michigan .197 .205 .008
Florida State - .913 - Wisconsin .926 .946 .020
Alabama - .663 -

Only the GFEI ratings in Oregon's victories over Wyoming and Washington were negatively impacted by the results of bowl games. All 10 of their other GFEI ratings improved. And on top of that, they added their best GFEI rating of the year by throttling Florida State. For the Buckeyes, five of their GFEI performances to date dropped based on the results of bowl games, and though their win over Alabama was very good, it merely ranks as their third-best GFEI result to date. Ohio State's FEI rating improved, but Oregon's improved even more.

Oregon and Ohio State are the top two teams in the nation in game efficiency and offensive points per drive. Along with Georgia and TCU, the Ducks and Buckeyes are the only teams ranked among the top 25 in OFEI, DFEI, STE, and FPA. This promises to be a terrific title game. The FEI projections like Oregon by a final score of 35-31.

FEI 2014 Pre-Championship 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 games scheduled, including bowl games and playoff games. 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.

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 GE GE
Rk
SOS Rk
FBS
MW
OFEI Rk DFEI Rk STE Rk FPA Rk
1 Oregon 12-1 .348 .299 1 .040 5 12.4 .753 3 -.492 13 1.793 10 .554 7
2 Alabama 11-2 .302 .190 8 .053 12 10.8 .653 5 -.599 7 -.482 88 .493 74
3 Georgia Tech 10-3 .281 .159 10 .072 22 10.7 .999 1 -.113 51 .959 31 .540 14
4 Ohio State 13-1 .280 .278 2 .042 6 12.6 .627 8 -.533 11 1.178 23 .565 4
5 Georgia 9-3 .275 .215 5 .085 28 9.7 .609 9 -.429 15 1.949 9 .585 1
6 TCU 11-1 .252 .249 4 .258 64 10.5 .338 23 -.644 4 2.015 8 .574 2
7 Florida State 12-1 .228 .083 29 .047 8 9.6 .644 7 -.303 28 .376 50 .480 100
8 UCLA 10-3 .221 .060 39 .049 9 9.1 .650 6 -.150 47 .508 45 .496 68
9 USC 9-4 .217 .126 19 .070 21 9.5 .322 27 -.394 19 .506 46 .508 44
10 Baylor 10-2 .202 .206 6 .269 66 9.8 .542 11 -.231 38 .552 44 .549 8
11 Mississippi 8-4 .200 .112 23 .068 20 8.1 .140 46 -.702 3 .249 59 .518 32
12 Auburn 7-5 .199 .068 35 .027 2 7.6 .758 2 -.166 45 -.234 76 .501 62
Rk Team FBS
Rec
FEI GE GE
Rk
SOS Rk
FBS
MW
OFEI Rk DFEI Rk STE Rk FPA Rk
13 Arizona State 9-3 .199 .067 37 .114 38 8.4 .375 16 -.359 22 .738 38 .529 22
14 Clemson 9-3 .197 .128 18 .054 13 8.3 -.004 60 -.928 1 -1.118 103 .507 47
15 Utah 8-4 .189 .055 41 .050 10 7.7 -.051 69 -.521 12 2.470 5 .541 12
16 Mississippi State 9-3 .187 .168 9 .053 11 8.3 .346 20 -.406 17 .468 47 .523 29
17 Michigan State 10-2 .187 .200 7 .077 26 8.9 .401 14 -.207 40 1.432 18 .545 10
18 Arizona 10-4 .186 .060 40 .014 1 9.0 .339 22 -.307 27 -.052 69 .527 23
19 Stanford 7-5 .185 .128 17 .034 3 7.6 .153 43 -.539 10 -.316 79 .513 35
20 Missouri 10-3 .169 .090 27 .085 29 8.9 .134 48 -.452 14 .803 35 .497 66
21 Arkansas 6-6 .167 .104 24 .058 16 7.4 .316 28 -.393 20 -.440 87 .534 18
22 Louisville 8-4 .159 .071 32 .108 34 7.9 .084 51 -.603 6 -.601 91 .469 110
23 Virginia Tech 6-6 .137 .027 61 .112 37 7.5 -.256 99 -.716 2 .577 42 .493 75
24 Wisconsin 10-3 .137 .153 11 .205 60 9.2 .273 32 -.349 23 -.431 86 .488 84
25 Kansas State 8-4 .131 .141 15 .105 32 7.7 .385 15 -.001 63 2.649 4 .543 11

Posted by: Brian Fremeau on 05 Jan 2015

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