Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

14 Jan 2015

Final 2014 FEI Ratings

by Brian Fremeau

The Ohio State Buckeyes are the champions of the inaugural College Football Playoff. They stomped the Oregon Ducks on Monday night in what ranks as the sixth-best single game performance of the season according to GFEI. Their dominant Big Ten Championship win over Wisconsin on December 6 ranks as the second-best single game performance of the season. No other team this year matched the impressiveness of Ohio State's best pair of wins.

The Buckeyes' win over Michigan State on the road back on November 8 ranks as the 25th best performance according to GFEI, and their win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl ranks 28th. Out of 1,520 single-game performances by FBS teams this year, only one other team matched Ohio State with four top-30 single-game performances this year. That team claimed four of the top 15 single-game performances, in fact. That team is Oregon, and that team is ranked ahead of Ohio State in the final FEI ratings of the season.

For only the second time in the last 12 seasons, the team hoisting the national championship trophy at the end of the season is not ranked No. 1 in the final FEI ratings. In 2011, Alabama claimed the BCS championship with a shutout victory over LSU, but the Crimson Tide ranked behind both LSU and Oklahoma State in the end according to my opponent-adjusted possession efficiency ratings. Especially when a head-to-head victory in a championship setting is claimed in such definitive fashion, it is particularly jarring to find rankings that don't seem to validate that result. Is there something wrong with the system, or is there something else going on here?

It would be absurd to defend the FEI ratings (or any other computer or poll system) as a valid alternative to crowning a champion via the playoff we just witnessed. That's not what the ratings system is designed to do, and college football wouldn't be any fun if it were. After a rough start to the season, Ohio State played their way into playoff contention, was selected by the committee over other strong contenders, and beat two of the best teams in the nation in an 11-day span to win it all. That's a championship, and an impressive one at that.

We aren't crowing championships at the end of the year, but we are evaluating each team on its statistical merit in order to more deeply understand past performances and refine our projections of future ones. As far as the national championship is concerned, it didn't matter on January 1 or January 12 that Ohio State lost by 14 points to Virginia Tech on September 6. But that result, the 634th-best performance of the season according to GFEI, receives the same weight in the formula as the Buckeyes' postseason wins over Alabama and Oregon.

Perhaps a different game weight distribution will provide for more accurate projections. Perhaps the opponent adjustments that are applied to wins and losses should be tweaked as well. These are items on the long list of offseason projects I'll be investigating as we prepare for the 2015 season and beyond.

To get things started, I've updated the 2014 Program FEI ratings, a five-year measure of program efficiency and one of the foundational data points in forecasting next-season success. Enjoy the offseason everyone.

Final 2014 FEI 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 12-2 .330 .262 3 .034 3 12.1 .747 3 -.441 14 1.435 17 .550 7
2 Ohio State 14-1 .308 .272 2 .046 7 13.0 .648 7 -.600 7 1.237 22 .561 5
3 Alabama 11-2 .303 .191 8 .043 6 10.7 .655 5 -.599 8 -.482 88 .493 75
4 Georgia Tech 10-3 .281 .159 10 .071 20 10.7 .999 1 -.113 51 .959 31 .540 14
5 Georgia 9-3 .275 .216 5 .085 28 9.7 .609 9 -.429 15 1.949 9 .585 1
6 TCU 11-1 .252 .250 4 .258 65 10.5 .337 22 -.644 4 2.015 8 .574 2
7 Florida State 12-1 .227 .083 29 .053 10 9.6 .643 8 -.301 28 .376 50 .480 100
8 UCLA 10-3 .220 .061 39 .054 12 9.1 .648 6 -.147 47 .508 45 .496 69
9 USC 9-4 .215 .126 19 .072 23 9.5 .319 26 -.391 20 .506 46 .508 44
10 Baylor 10-2 .202 .206 6 .267 67 9.8 .543 11 -.231 38 .552 44 .549 8
11 Mississippi 8-4 .199 .113 23 .068 19 8.1 .139 46 -.700 3 .249 59 .518 32
12 Auburn 7-5 .198 .068 35 .027 2 7.6 .757 2 -.167 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 .197 .067 37 .118 41 8.4 .372 16 -.356 22 .738 38 .529 22
14 Clemson 9-3 .197 .128 18 .054 11 8.3 -.005 61 -.928 1 -1.118 103 .507 47
15 Michigan State 10-2 .188 .200 7 .073 24 8.9 .399 14 -.212 40 1.432 18 .545 10
16 Utah 8-4 .187 .055 41 .056 14 7.7 -.056 69 -.519 12 2.470 5 .541 12
17 Mississippi State 9-3 .186 .168 9 .053 9 8.3 .345 20 -.406 17 .468 47 .523 28
18 Stanford 7-5 .183 .128 17 .039 4 7.7 .150 44 -.537 11 -.316 79 .513 35
19 Arizona 10-4 .182 .061 40 .017 1 9.0 .329 23 -.304 27 -.052 69 .527 23
20 Missouri 10-3 .171 .090 27 .084 26 8.9 .134 48 -.455 13 .803 35 .497 66
21 Arkansas 6-6 .167 .104 24 .057 15 7.4 .316 28 -.393 19 -.440 87 .534 18
22 Louisville 8-4 .159 .072 32 .108 36 7.9 .084 51 -.601 6 -.601 91 .469 110
23 Virginia Tech 6-6 .141 .028 61 .087 29 7.5 -.246 93 -.718 2 .577 42 .493 76
24 Wisconsin 10-3 .138 .153 11 .165 52 9.2 .275 33 -.352 23 -.431 86 .488 84
25 Kansas State 8-4 .131 .142 15 .106 34 7.7 .385 15 -.002 63 2.649 4 .543 11

Posted by: Brian Fremeau on 14 Jan 2015

6 comments, Last at 21 Jan 2015, 11:18am by Kyndynos

Comments

1
by Kal :: Wed, 01/14/2015 - 7:43pm

Oregon's totally using this as a claimed national championship. Just FYI.

2
by Brian Fremeau :: Wed, 01/14/2015 - 9:34pm

Good to know.

3
by ZDNeal :: Thu, 01/15/2015 - 10:16am

Well, at least Michigan State still only lost to the #1 and #2 teams.

4
by Kyndynos :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:04am

How the heck is Virginia Tech number 23 after going 6-6 in a relatively weak ACC?

5
by Brian Fremeau :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 2:25pm

Beating Ohio State by 14 points helps, as does losing by only three points to Georgia Tech:
http://www.bcftoys.com/2014-game-factors#virginia-tech

FEI wasn't terribly down on the ACC overall, especially at the top. Georgia Tech and Clemson acquitted themselves particularly well in their bowl games, and FSU was, of course, the nation's only undefeated team heading into the bowls.

6
by Kyndynos :: Wed, 01/21/2015 - 11:18am

Okay. I would have thought that the OSU and GT games would have been more than canceled out by 30-6 to Miami and 6-3 to WAKE FOREST.