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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 Oct 2016

FEI Week 5: College Kickers

by Brian Fremeau

The Michigan Wolverines fought off Wisconsin on Saturday afternoon in one of the weekend's biggest conference contender showdowns, ultimately prevailing 14-7 in a slugfest that featured 16 punts and four turnovers. The two teams combined to cross the opponent's 30-yard line (defined as "value drives" in my possession efficiency analysis) only six times in 27 drives -- five times for Michigan and once for Wisconsin. The Badgers scored a touchdown on its only value drive. Michigan scored touchdowns twice, but missed on three field goal attempts on its other value drives. Defense ruled the day, and the hashtag #CollegeKickers ruled Twitter.

If you spend any part of your college football game days tracking the action of games across the country on social media, you are likely familiar with #CollegeKickers, a hashtag most frequently deployed as shared, shorthand references to field goal and extra point failures in key games and situations. Michigan fans and Michigan haters alike used it liberally throughout the game against Wisconsin when those three kicks (from 31, 43, and 40 yards) all missed the mark. Those kicks didn't cost Michigan a victory, but they made what could have been a more comfortable two-score victory much more nerve-wracking for the home crowd.

Every once in a while, the #CollegeKickers hashtag overwhelms the Twitter-verse for more positive reasons -- or perhaps more accurately, "reverse-sarcastic" reasons. Moments after Michigan sealed the win in the Big House, North Carolina was lining up for a last-second 54-yard field goal attempt against Florida State in Doak Campbell Stadium. Nick Weiler, the senior kicker for the Tar Heels, had an extra point attempt blocked (ahem, #CollegeKickers) after North Carolina took a 34-28 lead with two and a half minutes left. North Carolina surrendered that lead on Florida State's next drive to fall behind 35-34, but three plays and pass interference call later, the Tar Heels had one last shot. Weiler nailed the kick and sprinted around the field in celebration, and the #CollegeKickers hashtag simultaneously sprinted around Twitter in authentic celebration of the game-winning play.

It was a huge kick in a clutch situation. In non-garbage possessions over the last ten seasons, college kickers successfully connected on only 43 percent of attempts of 51 to 55 yards. Field goal attempts from that distance range represented only four percent of all field goal attempts in college football in that timeframe. In mid-game situations, teams are more inclined to punt from that part of the field rather than attempt a field goal (by a ratio of more than 2-to-1). Many teams don't even have a kicker on the roster with the leg to reliably make it from that distance.

End-of-game situations are a different story, of course, and whether North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora was confident Weiler would make the kick or not, it was probably a better alternative than a desperation heave toward the end zone. It's hard to compare it with the past, however, because there haven't been many situations quite like it in college football over the last 10 years. From 2007 to 2015, there were only 80 attempts of 51 yards or more with a score margin of three points or less in late-game (final four possessions of regulation or overtime) situations. That's out of 19,969 field goal attempts in total in that span (0.4 percent). College kickers made only 25 of the 80 attempts (31.3 percent).

Only 10 of the 25 successful field goal attempts in those situations were 54-yard attempts or longer, and only four of those were kicked as time expired:

  • 10/25/2008: Fresno State game-winning 58-yard FG to beat Utah State 30-28
  • 11/13/2010: Florida State game-winning 55-yard FG to beat Clemson 16-13
  • 10/11/2014: West Virginia game-winning 55-yard FG to beat Texas Tech 37-34
  • 09/19/2015: Iowa game-winning 57-yard FG to beat Pittsburgh 27-24

Nick Weiler's game-winning kick to beat Florida State is the only kick so far this year that will join this list. And along with the Fresno State game winner in 2008, it is the only kick of 54 yards or longer in the last ten seasons that, had it failed, would have resulted in a loss as time expired rather than a tie game and overtime (assuming that it didn't fall short only to be returned for a game-winning touchdown on the play).

Congratulations to Nick Weiler and North Carolina on a truly rare celebratory #CollegeKickers moment.

Another note about North Carolina's victory was the nature of the Tar Heels overcoming a major comeback and still responding to win. One of my Twitter followers, James Gilbert, asked about the frequency of teams that jump out to a 21-point lead, surrender that lead and fall behind in the game, and still win the game in the end. North Carolina did exactly that on Saturday -- they led 21-0 in the second quarter, allowed Florida State to rally to tie it at 28 in the fourth quarter, took a 34-28 lead, fell behind 35-34, then kicked the game winning field goal.

I made a point of discussing about Florida State's propensity for comebacks back in Week 1, and I won't lie and say I didn't queue up a tweet highlighting yet another Florida State three-score deficit comeback on Saturday before Weiler's kick intervened.

Since the start of the 2007 season, there have been 179 instances of a team in an FBS-versus-FBS game giving up a lead of 21 or more points and losing the game. In the same span, there have been only 27 instances of a team taking a lead of 21 or more points, losing that lead and falling behind in the game, then rallying to win anyway. North Carolina's win over Florida State was second such instance this year -- Navy also did it against Connecticut on September 10. There was only one instance of its kind in all of 2015 -- Florida Atlantic over Old Dominion on November 28.

Again, congratulations to Nick Weiler and North Carolina on a truly rare celebratory #CollegeKickers moment.

FEI Ratings Through Week 5

The Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) is a college football rating system based on opponent-adjusted drive efficiency. Approximately 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. Unadjusted game efficiency (GE) is a measure of net success on non-garbage possessions, and opponent adjustments are calculated with special emphasis placed on quality performances against good teams, win or lose. Overall SOS ratings represent the likelihood than an elite team (two standard deviations better than average) would go undefeated against the given team's entire schedule.

FEI ratings through the first six weeks of the season are based in part on preseason projection data. Preseason ratings (PRE) represent approximately 29 percent of this week's ratings. Strength of schedule ratings for games played to date (SOP) are also provided. Ratings for all teams are linked here.

Rk Team Rec FEI GE Rk SOS Rk PRE Rk SOP Rk
1 Alabama 5-0 .326 .337 5 .061 8 .290 1 .398 21
2 Clemson 4-0 .311 .095 36 .230 50 .235 3 .413 24
3 Texas A&M 4-0 .267 .135 29 .042 5 .111 24 .516 37
4 Ohio State 4-0 .253 .476 1 .152 27 .154 12 .759 79
5 Michigan 5-0 .247 .317 6 .186 37 .123 22 .700 66
6 Mississippi 2-2 .242 .136 28 .035 3 .182 8 .261 11
7 LSU 2-2 .229 .076 40 .036 4 .236 2 .454 29
8 Louisville 4-1 .222 .346 3 .119 20 .137 17 .212 4
9 Washington 4-0 .209 .429 2 .332 69 .144 15 .760 81
10 Houston 4-0 .190 .339 4 .452 86 .104 26 .798 89
11 Wisconsin 4-1 .189 .143 26 .088 12 .058 40 .221 5
12 Florida State 2-2 .189 -.031 81 .068 10 .160 11 .248 9
13 West Virginia 3-0 .180 .071 42 .400 78 .056 41 .764 84
14 Stanford 3-1 .174 .012 60 .168 31 .183 7 .344 16
15 Miami 3-0 .171 .261 10 .353 74 .038 48 .807 93
Rk Team Rec FEI GE Rk SOS Rk PRE Rk SOP Rk
16 Nebraska 5-0 .170 .220 16 .158 29 .134 19 .747 75
17 Auburn 3-2 .168 .146 25 .015 1 .103 28 .190 2
18 UCLA 3-2 .168 .081 39 .128 22 .133 20 .248 10
19 Western Michigan 4-0 .163 .266 9 .756 124 .028 59 .855 102
20 Tennessee 5-0 .157 .107 32 .108 17 .161 10 .726 68
21 Oregon 1-3 .147 -.019 77 .205 42 .187 5 .559 42
22 Oklahoma 2-2 .128 .008 61 .167 30 .200 4 .387 20
23 Baylor 4-0 .124 .201 17 .347 72 .181 9 .914 116
24 BYU 2-3 .121 -.007 70 .264 57 .104 27 .461 30
25 Michigan State 1-2 .119 -.078 87 .186 36 .141 16 .687 61
26 North Carolina 3-1 .119 .049 45 .292 61 .082 34 .548 40
27 Boise State 4-0 .115 .225 14 .678 115 .109 25 .929 120
28 Maryland 3-0 .113 .297 7 .151 26 -.038 80 .917 118
29 Kansas State 1-2 .104 .121 30 .204 41 .058 39 .447 28
30 Utah 3-1 .103 .076 41 .249 55 .091 30 .742 74

Posted by: Brian Fremeau on 05 Oct 2016

3 comments, Last at 06 Oct 2016, 1:11pm by Brian Fremeau

Comments

1
by techvet :: Wed, 10/05/2016 - 9:34pm

The only one of those I ever saw in person was this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qiAEeudOs8.

2
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 10/06/2016 - 8:51am

Pro kickers are only 48% from 50+, late and close.
http://www.pro-football-reference.com/play-index/play_finder.cgi?request...

That rises to about 53% if you put the upper limit at 55-ish yards.
http://www.pro-football-reference.com/play-index/play_finder.cgi?request...

3
by Brian Fremeau :: Thu, 10/06/2016 - 1:11pm

Nice, thanks.